My Introduction to the Ways of Methodist Council

Tuesday 12th October

My Epic Failure and Playing Dodgeball

Visited a youth group at St Georges Church Boscombe. I told them a bit about what I do as Youth President.

We made Chocolate mug cakes (which are amazing and only take 3 minutes in the microwave!). I was told that I had produced an “epic failure” but it tasted good so I didn’t mind too much.
After that we played Dodgeball. I felt sorry for the team that picked me and was praying I wouldn’t make an utter fool of myself! Amazingly I was still in near the end with one other person on my team (I think this may have had more to do with the fact that no-one wanted to throw the ball at me rather than my incredible dodging skills!). I was also very proud that I managed to get someone out- something of a miracle considering my throwing arm. Despite me being fairly inept (read rubbish) at any kind of sport, I really enjoyed it and had a laugh.
The group was really friendly and one of the youth workers was kind enough to let me stay overnight (in a very cool basement bedroom!).

My failed but tasty mugcake

Wednesday 13th- Friday 15th October

First joint Methodist Council and Mission Council (URC)
Up at 5.15 on Wednesday to get my train from Bournemouth. Arriving in Derby I was still feeling bleary-eyed. Outside the station I spotted a large group who looked like they could be from the Methodist and Mission Councils, so I scanned the faces until I saw John Colenutt (Youth Assembly rep). We were all bustled into taxis and sent on to The Hayes conference centre. When I arrived I briefly passed my Dad who was there for another conference. He insisted on wheeling my suitcase round which probably made me look very lazy!
In the first session I made an impression by introducing myself as Christy-Anna Briggs (my maiden name), which peopled seemed to find funny as they all laughed- well at least they’d remember me!

Methodist Council Session

Had a good time at Council- met the Fury (Fellowship of United Reformed Youth) rep, had an inspirational Bible study and heard about Fresh Expressions. At different points we split into groups. My group was fantastic. We talked about poverty, news ways of Church, what it means to be Church and one guy even suggested we sell all our Church buildings and start everything from scratch! (Not sure this idea would be popular with everyone...).
I went to a workshop about the “missing generation”. Ironically about half of us were actually in this age group, but it was good to get different perspectives on an issue currently affecting our churches.

Joint Council session

One thing I thought about a lot at council was prayer. I think everything we do should be based in Prayer and a desire to see God’s will done. Over the 3 days we had a Communion service and an in-depth Bible study which were really refreshing and helped to keep the focus on God instead of us.

The Joys of Travel

5th October 2010

Off to MCH for a YPS (Youth Participation Strategy) team meeting.
Frankly, the day didn’t get off to the best start. For some reason, my arms and legs didn’t want to co-ordinate with the rest of me so I tripped up escalators several times and even managed to get my suitcase stuck in the barrier leaving the toilets at waterloo.
At MCH the first thing I did was chat to some of the media team and record a podcast interview about Youth Assembley.

Good food and Good Company

Next, I had lunch with John Ellis and Mark Wakelin (two of the Strategic leaders of the Methodist Church). We went to a vegetarian restaurant called the crypt, which was lovely. It was really great to find out more about their specific jobs and talk about some of my thoughts so far- so much so that I was 20 minutes late for my next meeting with Doug Swanney (Head of Discipleship and Ministries Cluster)! Luckily he was very understanding and we had a chat about the Cluster which was very helpful.

After work, I had the pleasure of going for a curry with the PPM’s (Sharon, Rachel, Lynne, Carl and John). We waited a long time for food, but when it arrived it was well worth it. We then headed over to Leicester Square and had delicious real ice cream before going back to the hotel.

6th October 2010

My First (and hopefully worst) Walk into Work at MCH.

It was unfortunate there was a torrential downpour on the way so my linen trousers and canvas shoes were competing to see which could soak up the most rainwater. I think I left a puddle in the lift as I had to wring out my clothing when I reached the 6th floor to stop the drips!

More Good Food and a Team Field Trip!

Then for my first Connexional Team lunch! Got off to a good start with the food- stuffed vine leaves, olives, falafels and hummus- all my favourite foods. Yummy!
I’ll be honest and admit it was much more interesting than I expected. The Methodist President of Benin was visiting and gave a short speech. We also got to hear more about Bible Fresh and Equality and Diversity. Martyn Atkins (another Strategic Leader)spoke on the themes mentioned in his book, “Discipleship and the People Called Methodists”. I did nab myself a copy as I haven’t yet read it!

After that, a group of us legged it to the tube so we could catch our train to Swindon to visit the PGL centre in Liddington- the venue for Youth Assembley 2010. We were a bit disappointed to find our seats were in the Quiet Carriage- but not as disappointed as the other people sitting in it when they realised they’d be sharing with us! I think we did a fairly good job of keeping the noise down...
I was very impressed by the site. It was fun having a look round and talking about how it’s all going to come together. I’m really excited about it!

planning Youth Assembley at PGL centre

8th October 2010

The Not So Wise Taxi Driver

On Friday I went to Birmingham for a YPS reference group meeting at the Diaconal centre. Was slightly concerned when I spent the first ten minutes in the taxi waiting for the driver to figure out where we were going with his sat nav! When he finally started moving, we drove for 30 seconds, turned a corner and he announced “This is the road!”. Well if I’d known how close it was I would have walked, but as it was we spent the next 15 minutes driving up and down trying to find the place. After asking 2 random strangers (who also had no clue as to the elusive nature of the Diaconal Centre) we finally spotted the house number, so the taxi driver locked me in the car while he went to investigate (apparently I look like the sort of person to do a runner without paying!).

When I got inside, I was greeted by the beautiful, but homely decor and a delicious smell coming from the kitchen. People arrived over the next few hours, and we had a dinner of pasta bake and flatbread followed by ice cream and homemade chocolate and toffee sauces (mmmm...).

After the 1st 2 sessions introducing everyone and looking at the history of the YPS, we all wandered to Tesco to get some drinks. We spent the next couple of hours relaxing and chatting in the living room. It was great to get to know the group better- although after another long day I was very sleepy so didn’t add much to the conversation!

9th October 2010

Strange men on trains

The next day we discussed a range of issues surrounding YPS- it was fun and informative. It was also my first experience of chairing a meeting, which I think went ok, except that I kept forgetting I was chairing and was supposed to move the conversations along. A few prompts from Jude (Youth Participation Development Officer) helped me along the way!

The journey home was fairly uneventful, until I was on the train between Bristol and Weymouth. The drunk man opposite me seemed to think that by looking over his shoulder it would somehow disguise the fact that he was taking pictures of me...very weird. I hid behind my book until he got off! Then another man sat opposite me and we got chatting. He asked me what my job is, so I said “I work for the Methodist Church- I’m the Youth President for the year.” To which he replied “ you’re religious?...You don’t look like that sort of person! You know what I mean by that?” I can honestly say I didn’t know what he meant so I just laughed. He then went on to say “Isn’t that odd...I don’t meet many angels in my life”

I wasn’t sure what to make of this encounter, but it did make me smile!

(Not so) Scary CLF

First Official Meeting

Spent Monday and Tuesday in Swanick for CLF (Connexional Leaders Forum). It basically consists of all the chairs of district, the 4 strategic leaders, the presidency and me. It sounds a bit scary, but I had so much fun!

When I arrived, people quickly started introducing themselves and I was made to feel really welcome. There was a mix of presentations and discussions and I even contributed twice during the last half hour! I ‘d been praying for the nerve to speak up when I got there- but in reality everyone was so encouraging, it was easy. It was clear this is a group of people who are passionate about discerning God’s will for the future of the Methodist Church.

It’s a shame my journey home wasn’t so great. Stupidly, I forgot my young person’s railcard and had to pay a £52 excess for my journey. I won’t be making that mistake again in a hurry! At Chesterfield my train was delayed by 40 minutes so I missed my connection and added an hour to the journey. Then to add insult to injury, after running to the bus station in Weymouth I was told by a bus driver “Going to Portland? I wouldn’t bother. The traffic’s so bad we’ve got 9 buses stuck over there. Not sure if there’ll be another one”. Really helpful…As you can imagine, after already travelling for nearly 8 hours, I wasn’t best pleased! I eventually got home 9pm after getting a lift from one of the bus drivers who goes to my church.

Despite the rubbish end to my trip, I was still left feeling uplifted by my time away and can’t wait for the next one in January!