Tuesday, September 25, 2012

OPP Post #2 - Hands-On and Hills

I love doing hands-on work. As much as I enjoy meetings and committees (that's not sarcasm, I really do!), I love being on the ground. And last week I got the opportunity to help in a Drop In, based out of Central Methodist Church, Preston. The Drop In was a re-imagining of a soup kitchen, where those who have very little, the homeless and the lonely can come in, have curry, jacket potatoes, soup, toast and hot drinks, and have a chat. It was great to meet some of the volunteers who are serving the Lord through practical ways.
I had a really interesting chat with one of the volunteers, a really friendly guy who is the de facto 'second in command' of the Drop In. He is a care worker by day, and helps with the Drop In twice a week. He told me that he doesn't really enjoy his work, but loves the work he does alongside Christians. And he told me that he's an atheist. This really touched me, we don't have the same religious beliefs, but for him there is something special about being with Christians, serving others. And I think that he is a real blessing, and is doing God's work, even though he doesn't see it that way. (An aside, He told everyone I was an assassin when I told him I studied International Politics and the Intelligence Services.)

I also got to help with a youth group, filling in for another volunteer who couldn't be there. I was tasked with cooking the pizzas, which is a good use of my talents I guess, but also enjoyed chatting with them. And then on Saturday, I helped with Insync (the Lancashire District Synod Youth Forum), where we were looking at the District's policy, encouraging them to get involved and share their views, which will be fed back to the District Policy Committee. It was interesting talking about how the Church needs to take risks, try new things, and be prepared to accept that some things fail, but they aren't a waste, they are learning experiences. I would also like to thank Lancashire District for allowing me to represent them at Methodist Conference this year, its and important year for many reasons, and I'm glad I'll be part of the discussions in London in July. (And sorry to my Line Manager, who now has to work out how this fits with my Training Weekend, but he did say that I could stand!)

At the top of Pendle Hill
After Synod, Girlfriend and I joined a number of others, led by Rev Stephen Poxon (District Chair) on a walk up Pendle Hill. This was part of the Lancashire Year of Prayer, in which Stephen is walking around the District visiting every Church. Pendle Hill is famous for two, very different things. On one hand, it is linked with witches, being the Site of the Pendle Witch Trials, on the other hand, it is where George Fox, the founder of the Quaker movement, received a vision from God. It is a pretty steep climb, even more so when you are having to half drag your girlfriend up. When we made it to the top, we shared a prayer and a few hymns, which I found very moving. And the views were amazing, you can see almost the whole of Lancashire, rolling hills, and the sea in the distance. I can see why George Fox had a vision from God there! I was wearing my One Programme t-shirt, and got talking to a women wearing a fluffy tiara at the top about what I did, something I wasn't really expecting.

It was a very exciting week, and I'm looking forward to doing some more 'on the ground' work over the next

Worship on Pendle Hill

Saturday, September 15, 2012

OPP Post #1 - Many New Beginnings

 I haven't blogged for so long, mainly because I've not had any ideas for blogs that have really inspired me. But now I have a reason to blog, and am going to attempt to blog at least fortnightly.
Since my last post, an awful lot has changed. I have one and a half new jobs, and am living at the other end of the country. I feel I should explain.

I am now an One Programme Participant, or OPP. This is part of the Methodist Church's Youth Participation Strategy. I, along with 16 other young people across the country, am going a 'year on', an internship. My placement is with Methodist Action North West. Yep, North West. I now live in Lancashire. Methodist Action is a charity that works to support people facing poverty and homelessness in the North West. It's an amazing organisation, and I am set to have a very eye opening year. I'm going to be getting a flavour of all the work they do, from drop in centres to social housing projects, and trying to inspire young people to volunteer. I hope this blog will act as a record of that year. I look forward to reading these posts back this time next year, seeing how I've changed. (*wave to future Matt*).

The first weekend of September was the first OPP weekend, where I met the 16 other OPPs, who are great people. We have a real range, from 16 to (almost) 24; English, Welsh and Scottish (Northern Ireland isn't part of the Methodist Church of Great Britain); Conservative Christians, Liberal Christians and some who wouldn't class themselves as Christian. A couple of them are also blogging their years, I'll put the links at the bottom of this post. We had some great chats over the weekend, a lot of fun, and a good amount of Methodist Geekery (which made me very happy). I am looking forward to seeing them all in October.

So that is the one new job. The half is the fact that I have just transferred to the Pizza Hut in Preston, which is a little strange, because it is very similar to the Cribbs Hut, but also quite different. But it felt strangely good to be back in the black shirt, giving people pizza.

The other really big change is that, for now, I am sharing a house with my girlfriend. It's quite an experience after almost 4 years living 170 miles apart. And it's going well, I like having someone to make me breakfast, and someone to do the washing up for.

Well, I feel I'm rambling now, so I'll wrap this up. But before I go, can I ask you a favour? If you are so inclinded, please pray for me and the other OPPs, that we have a successful and fulfilling year. 

Thanks, you're awesome!

Others Blogs
Hayley Moss - Methodist Youth President
James Adams - Based in Stoke
Glen Reid - Based in Ashton-under-Lyne