Time to be bored

Earlier this month Lauren Child was named as the new children’s laureate. Her comments on children being allowed to be bored seem insightful to me.

As a parent, I can remember the pressure children place on us by complaining to be bored. Stung by this complaint parents and carers set off on a relentless endeavor to find activities to fill our children’s attention. This is tough but often fruitless.

In education and spiritual development this is also pertinent. If someone says they are bored it is not, of itself, a problem. What we do need to consider is how we are encouraging children to be creative and use their idle times, rather than falling into the trap of simply filling their senses as a distraction.

In terms of Christian spirituality this is what Sabbath is all about. A space in the rhythm of our lives when we have time, a day, when we can be bored, refreshed and creative in God’s presence.

I want to make a distinction between being bored and things being boring. If things are boring then we are not offering or finding the stimulation to dream, experiment and be inspired. As Lauren Child puts it – it is good to be bored in a wonderful world and so discover so much of ourselves and life.

Lauren Child considers being bored as a way to be open to what is around us in a more open and imaginative way. So being bored opens us up to things beyond our initial consciousness, to new and wider things – it is to be receptive to the other.

This is something profoundly Christian. To be still and enlivened so that we can perceive God and all that God has created. To see things beyond our prejudices, existing preoccupations. This is to be encouraged in all generations.

It is time to pause. To be bored. To be open to people and things outside ourselves and our busy agendas.

Graham Brownlee, June 2017

MBC’s Romania Support Group invite you to a strawberry cream tea – 3 to 5pm, Sunday 25th June

products-135-large (600x400)Between 3 and 5pm on Sunday, June 25th the Romania Support Group will be hosting another strawberry cream tea at Howard Dews’ home – 126 The Avenue in Alwoodley. Over the years this event has become a firm summer favourite and all are invited.

Once again donations are invited to support summer Christian camps for young people in Romania. There is a long tradition of holding such camps in Romania, and this forms a very important part of the church’s witness to young people.


ENGAGE, the latest publication from BMS World Mission and it’s news – news – news!

The latest edition of BMS World Mission magazine ENGAGE is now available either free through the post or on line. 

Filled with news stories and features from across the globe this latest edition also contains a farewell message from outgoing General Director David Kerrigan and news of his successor Dr Kang-San Tan.

However, Roger Robson, BMS World Mission’s rep here at MBC has also provided us with links to some other BMS stories, one of which involves an area of the world we now have a particular association with, Nepal, the other to a video about John and Sue Wilson and their move to take up a new in in Paris  Here they are: 



Signing up to receive ENGAGE, the BMS World Mission magazine (either free through the post or on line) couldn’t be easier and it really is the best way of keeping up with what the Baptist movement is doing, world wide, to spread the good news about Jesus.

So to read or download the latest edition or to sign up to receive future copies visit http://www.bmsworldmission.org/engagecatalyst/engage

In addition to producing the ENGAGE magazine BMS World Mission runs a number of schemes specially designed to enable you to support its work. One is the Birthday Scheme. This is a wonderful way of donating as each year, on your birthday, you give BMS World Mission a monetary gift. Another is to become a 24:7 Partner.  By becoming a 24:7 Partner, you’ll become part of God’s incredible mission across the world. Your prayer and monthly giving will enable BMS workers and partners to help transform the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

To find out more about these and other support schemes that BMS World Mission operates either speak with Roger Robson here at MBC or go on line and visit http://www.bmsworldmission.org/

It’s a repeat success for the Brownlees and a brilliant debut for our Gareth

In an exact rerun of last year the second Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon, Leeds proved that for the Brownlee brothers, besides appearing to be head and shoulders above the opposition you can’t beat a bit of local knowledge. 

After a 1,500 meter open water swim, a 40 km bike ride and then a punishing 10km run Leeds lads Alistair and younger brother Jonny claimed first and second place. Alistair finishing in 1 hr 46 mins and 51 secs… Jonny just 12 seconds slower.

However, earlier in the day and taking part in what’s called the Sprint Triathlon our own Gareth Davies had swum, peddled and run that same but admittedly shortened course in an equally impressive time of 1 hour and 53 minutes. 

Below, in our gallery, are a few pictures taken on the day. The ones of Gareth were supplied by wife Louise, the brilliant “elite” action shots were taken by Ross Bromley whilst the one of the riders streaming past MBC is courtesy of the BBC and was taken by John Sherbourne from the comfort of his armchair.

Besides setting himself a personal challenge Gareth who on the morning after the race was describing his legs as feeling “a bit crampy and stiff” entered the event to raise awareness and funds for a charity called The Bone Cancer Research Fund. In fact his Just Giving page (a direct link set up to make donating easy) is still active and can reached by clicking on https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Gareth-Davies96

So to the Brownlees (no relation to Graham) and to Flora Duffy (no relation John and Gill) who won the Elite women’s event we say well done; as professional athletes we know they’ll be back. As for Gareth let’s just wait and see.

Making sense and taking responsibility

The recent terror attacks in Manchester and London have once again presented us with the challenge of how we respond to those who claim to act in the name of Islam.

It seems to me that two polarised approaches just don’t stand up:

The first is to say that this illustrates that such violence is the way of Islam; that flies in the face of the core commitment of Muslims to prayer, charity and hospitality. The other approach is to say that this has nothing to do with Islam. Yet these perpetrators are claiming an Islamic motivation, which is certainly a twisted perversion of Islam but it needs to be addressed and not denied.

At different times in history and in different current circumstances, Christians have had to recognise what is done in the name of the Christian faith and take a stand to confront and name these crimes.

On Monday, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, made this point and made the connection with the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica.

To give another example, I remember the unrest and violence on the streets of Birmingham when I was starting out in ministry in the late 1980s. Some involved and committing these acts were young people from the urban church communities. I remember vividly, church leaders weeping and sharing in acts of community soul searching and repentance. Not because they had taught that people should act this way, nor because they were directly responsible, but because these young people had been nurtured and taught in a Christian worldview which clearly hadn’t sustained them.

These examples show two shortcomings: Firstly people twist faith and secondly people nurtured in faith disguard the hope faith offers for patterns of violence or behaviours in which only the fit survive.

So I believe that faith does not teach these violent acts but faith is implicated and shares a responsibility because it needs to foster and create the world it teaches.

I believe that we are obligated to reach out to all faith leaders and say we understand and we stand with you. And at the same time to say we ask you condemn acts and see that faith is connected with these events and the solutions.

The responsibility of faith is to say that our arms have not been strong enough to save from, or our influence not clear enough to encounter extremism. The responsibility is to say that faith plays a crucial part in finding solutions.

We can ask this of fellow Muslim leaders because on other occasions we have had to tread this path ourselves, as Christians. In that sense, we show solidarity.

This is a difficult path to follow, it is one about making sense and taking responsibility. It involves digging deeper to find how and why our faith is twisted (by powerful institutions and evil rebels), in what ways we fall short and how we can find a better way.

I am reminded of the prayer of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1: 1 – 11), who observed a desperate situation, wept, confessed the sins of the people in wider society and concluded by asking for God’s help in shaping a new future.

I sense that if we, as people of faith, don’t work in these ways, and pray such prayers, then we will abdicate the public space and leave it to politicians and policy makers who are ill equipped to resolve things themselves.

I was struck by London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s powerful response that as a patriotic British Muslim these acts were not done in his name. In a diverse democracy, there are many acts committed by either individuals or governments that we want to say are not done in our name. We can show the world that when we deeply object to things that are done – we can and should protest, campaign, pray, even create disturbance but we do not follow violence and destruction. We have the opportunity to show positive, honest and responsible ways to say: Not in my name.

My argument is not to merge all faiths into one, nor to move faith to the margins. Rather, as a Christian, to say that we need to learn to coexist in this world for our sake and that of our children. We must not allow ourselves to become different tribes simply nervous and suspicious of each other

Simply apportioning blame or proclaiming our innocence won’t do, we are involved and part of the solution.

I write this as a Christian man in his 50s, who is a husband, father and pastor. So this is not just an theoretical argument, it is personal.

Over the years, I have seen pastors and church people wrestling with how to live as Christians our society. It is tempting to live in a separate bubble of faith away from all this – but it just isn’t credible.

With our children, I have come to realise that the headlines of “the other groups are awful” or “we all love and are in this together” end up sounding like slogans that we give each other. Real life is more complex and with them I must get off my high horse and be prepared to work things out.

I hold to my belief in Christ with the same assurance and passion, but not as something to hide behind, rather something to put my hope in.

Graham Brownlee, June 2017


This coming Sunday, 11th June, there will be no morning service here at MBC. The reason being that like last year we sit fairly and squarely right in the middle of the World Triathlon route.

There will however be a Communion Service here at 6pm.

Making memories, Pentecost 2017, a day Steph will always remember

As her theme for our Pentecost sermon Shona chose Making Memories. For Stephanie Whyte (centre in the picture below) one can be sure that the memories of this particular day will stay with her for ever.Following an emotional testimony in which Steph, who recently completed an MBC Alpha Course gave some powerful examples of God’s goodness and grace it was time for her to step in the baptistery. With Shona Shaw on one arm and Janet Walker on the other Steph rose from the water to greet the packed church with a joyful Alleluia!

Sharing Steph’s special day was her mother Sandra, sister Melanie and nephew Jordan.

Another highlight of the service was the return of our “pop up” choir. Under the watchful eye of their leader, Abi Tilley, and after just three weeks rehearsal the singers were brilliant. 













As he faces one of his biggest challenges ever, don’t dare tell Gareth that Sunday is a day of rest…

Next Sunday, that’s the 11th of June there will be no morning service here at MBC owing to road closures and us being slap-bang in  the middle of the ITU World Triathlon Series course.

For the elite athletes, and following a 1,500 meter swim in Roundhay Park’s Waterloo Lake there’s a quick change from wetsuit to lycra for their 40 km bike ride into and around town. After that it’s just a small matter of a 10k run: then the rest of the day’s their own!

As an amateur Gareth Davies, however, will be undertaking a slightly less arduous schedule. For him and his fellow athletes taking part in what’s called the Sprint Triathlon involves a mere 750 meter swim, a 20km bike ride and a 7.5km run. “I’m pretty fit” says Gareth “as I do a fair amount of running but swimming that sort of distance in a lake that I’m told years ago was once used as an armaments dump is a bit scary.”

So in readiness for the challenge, Gareth has been honing his aquatic skills by training in a flooded gravel pit alongside students at a diving school near Castleford. Another of his clever tactics is to borrow a bike from Graham and Margaret’s son Aodhan (in 2016 Aodhan rode this particular bike when he took part in the insanely tough Iron Man challenge).

So next Sunday, if you decide to sneak an extra hour in bed, or maybe opt for a drive out in the Dales spare a thought for Gareth. In fact, more than that – go online and visit  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Gareth-Davies96 and sponsor him, because every stroke, every revolution and every step he takes will be counting towards his goal of raising £1,000 for The Bone Cancer Research Trust.


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