First Sunday Communion – a refreshed programme for 2017/18

Earlier this month we relaunched our first Sunday evening of each month Communion Service. Each month, and beginning at 6pm, this service is going to have one focus and three characteristics.

The focus is on a service for those who want to think a little more deeply and broadly about their faith. It is designed to appeal to who have responsibility or leadership in some way whether in church or in wider work. You may be a house group leader, leading a group with children or young people or responsible for developing and managing others in your work context.

The three characteristics are:
• An hour service
• A simple and traditional style
• Sharing in communion

We will provide questions to follow up on the thinking individually or in groups. This could be a good resource for house groups.

For now we will be following themes taken from 2 Corinthians. The Christians in Corinth belonged to powerful and vibrant church. But you would be making a naïve assumption to think that such a church had smooth relations and easy working.

The Corinthians had a heady mix of blessings and trouble, which prompted their founder, Paul, to offer some thoughtful insights on leadership and Christian belief and practice.

If you take responsibility or exercise leadership in whatever capacity, as pastor, parent, trusted friend or manager you will find this a helpful book in the Bible.

Graham Brownlee will be leading this programme and drawing contributions from others during the year.

Metamorphosis and all that

My holidays have been saved by my tablet – not the anti-diarrhoea kind but the electronic device. Instead for taking a pack of 6 or 7 books away, I smuggle them in my tablet. This year as well as some holiday crime fiction, I downloaded Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. Oh yes, I know how to have fun in the sun!

I first encountered this book when I was around 10 years old. My primary school teacher read classic books to the class. This is how I first discovered Tolkien’s The Hobbit and also Metamorphosis. Looking back that strikes me as a brilliant and brave thing for my teacher to do.

If you read on beware of plot spoilers.

Gregor Samsa lives with his parents and sister, for whom he is the sole wage earner. He is working hard with the sole motivation of covering his family’s debts and costs. He wakes one morning to the dawning realisation that he has turned into some kind of beetle. The story unfolds with the horror and disbelief felt by his family. Gregor remains locked in his room, fed scraps by his sister. Gradually the family members remove furniture from his room and adjust to life by taking in lodgers and living off their savings. It seems they have been living off Gregor for years. He overhears their conversation expressing frustration at Gregor still being there and referring to him as ‘it’. The final scene is when an emaciated beetle escapes the flat and dies to be swept up by the housekeeper. So the family is free to get on with their lives.

As I reacquainted myself with this book, I made a connection with how we can relate to older dependent generations in our families. Do they easily become non-people whom we suffer as increasing burdens? This is not an easy one to answer honestly.

When my parents died following long, slow declines which sapped their dignity and how I knew them – it caused me to ask myself this. I tried to keep things real, personal and loving. But I saw that the roles we play and the transactions we make are a big part of how children relate to their parents at any age. By transactions, I mean matters of money and control.

Now it has been noted that Kafka may well have been asking similar questions from the other side: how do families and parents relate to children as they reach adulthood? So we could ask whether we see young people beyond the contribution they make or the drain that they are.

Of course, there is much care across generations in our families, much commitment and support. I am not denying or criticising that, it is to be honoured.

But I am asking whether, in the midst of our family roles, people of another generation become objects for us, the “other” we talk about but don’t really understand. They are the “other” we live with, provide for, plan about, worry about and receive from. But I wonder whether all we do for children, young people and older people belies the struggle we have to relate to them as sentient and free people.

I know one reaction to this is to put an age group on a pedestal. I believe that is not the answer for it merely makes those outside that group into providers and objects. I think this touches on issues of identity, faith, development and trust

I write this as a person, a parent and a child of parents.

So I realise that the most shocking thing in Metamorphosis is not the big creepy dung beetle in the bedroom but that the beetle ends up a thing swept away and maybe was a thing all along.

Graham Brownlee, August 2017


Impressive people on our holiday adventure

                       The picture postcard village that Graham and Margaret stayed in


This year Mags and I booked to stay in a rural hotel in Spain. In the mountains 130km from the airport. That’s about all we knew on booking. Something of an unknown adventure.

We have done loads of walking, scrambled up the sides of a ravine, swum in a mountain reservoir and shared in the summer festival. But far and away the most memorable and impressive thing in the holiday has been the couple who run the hotel.

Just under a year ago they swapped two high powered technical careers to move to the remote, under populated countryside. They took up an opportunity to run the local hotel in a village where they wanted people to run the establishment but also have children to populate the tiny school.

They fitted the bill! Now their 8 children provide 2 thirds of the school roll!

During the week, they suggested that instead of eating dinner in the hotel we could go along to the buffet, dance and bingo in the village. We went willingly and had a great time. 400 people of all ages having a great time. We enjoyed the beef stew, the fresh melon, the local unlabelled wine and the conversations. We ended up dancing to Tom Jones’ ‘It’s not unusual’ sung in English with a Spanish accent. We dipped out of the bingo – we do have our limits!

                                        Graham’s mountain top view towards the Med


In talking to our hosts later, we realised that they are on a mission, a mission to save and grow their adopted village. The hotel is one of the biggest businesses in the locality. Their welcome warm, their passion infectious and their aims ambitious.

We asked how running a hotel all year worked for their children and when they got a break. They replied this life is good for the children they don’t need a holiday.

Towards the end of a holiday Mags and I asked ourselves; “Would we come back here?” This time we said we might, just to see how our new friends are getting on.

Graham Brownlee, August 2017


The art of apology, the truth behind a condemnation

You know the words – “I am sorry if I have offended you in any way!”  You maybe said them yourself or had them said to you. I have certainly done both. 

But on careful observation this is not an apology at all. The speaker is not saying sorry for what she/he have said or done, but regretted it’s affect. She/he is sorry about how the affected person feels or the response engendered.

This is subtle and very clever. So the problem is not the first action but the reaction by those on the receiving end. The speaker is actually putting the focus on the other person and diverting it from themselves. The offended one now has the onus put back on them for feeling wronged! This is a deft assertion of power over another and highly controlling. In fact it is no apology at all.

Try playing those tapes in your memory of when you have said and heard these words and see how it fits.

Here’s another statement – “I condemn all forms of violence on both sides.” This paraphrases Donald Trump’s vacillating words following confrontations in Charlottesville. But such vague words are commonly on the lips of leaders – consider Theresa May last summer on the USA’s position on climate change or Jeremy Corbyn on Venezuela. What the leader is actually saying is that I don’t feel strongly about the rights and wrongs of this issue, or I may even sympathise with the extreme/ unpalatable positions being taken, or I already have alliances in this area that are gagging me. So in a subtle move the politician ignores the underlying issue and focuses on the headline-making effects. So the political leader makes ambiguous statements rather that taking a much needed principled stand. In these cases no real and deep condemnation is being made. More so, the onus for responsibility and action is then put upon others, especially those on the front line. In saying such things the leader is exercising power and saying I regard control and vested interest over principled leadership. (Indeed violent confrontation may play into the hands of a leader seeking exercise control and appeal to those on the extremes.)

Often in the ensuing days, the weakness of the condemnation is spotted. Advisors come out to clarify and strengthen the initial statement, to ameliorate the damage or ‘misunderstanding. But the hearers are not fooled. In those initial statements we actually learnt where Trump, May and Corbyn truly stand, in what they didn’t say as much as what they did. For a mix of the reasons given above Donald Trump will continally fall short of issuing the clear statement against right wing extremism that is so necessary.

Extremism is to be condemned (likewise abuse of our environment and oppressive regimes). Violence should be too, but the violence is not the primary issue – this is fundamentally about values and justice. The root matter is that we are failing to express our core values credibly/consistently and at the same time give freedom and scope for these to be critiqued openly and peacefully applied. Condemnation is needed at times but it should be unambiguously focused.

Do this well and we uphold inclusion and justice whilst letting all have a voice. Fail to do this and we undermine equality and freedom, in forgetting what it is about and thinking that it can be won by violence.

When it comes to condemning, I guess we can all play a similar game. Moaning about the symptoms and brushing away underlying causes when it suits us.

Genuine apology and responsible condemnation are key elements for a person of integrity and a fair society.

It is time to reflect how apologies and condemnations work in our society and at a personal level how we apologise and what we find time to condemn.

Graham Brownlee, August 2017


Two years on from the devastating earthquakes, BMS World Mission reports on a very special self-help project


Manisha is ten and Ayushma is six. These little girls are two of the thousands of people your gifts to BMS World Mission’s Nepal earthquake appeal continue to help.

Living in Gorkha District, one of the areas hardest hit by the 2015 earthquakes, Manisha and Ayushma were left particularly vulnerable after the disaster. Both of them have hearing problems, and their mothers were having to shout at them to get them to understand anything.

BMS and our partners have set up a self-help group in the village for people affected by the earthquakes, particularly focusing on those with disabilities. Thanks to this, both Manisha and Ayushma have managed to get operations to improve their hearing. Now they can learn at school and thrive!

You can meet Manisha, Ayushma and some of the other people you are helping in Nepal by reading this story.

Debbie Drew and her post holiday blues

August 2017

Dear friends

We returned from holiday last week and I must admit to the post-holiday blues.  Although we live comfortably in Nepal, adjusting again to power cuts, monsoon rains, 90% humidity, water deliveries when our water runs out, soaking our fruit and salad in iodine solution to clean it, putting loo roll in a bin rather than down the loo, takes a few days.

With nervous excitement, Rebekah, Sam, Tabea and Josh started back at school on Tuesday (years 10, 8, 4, 6).  It’s their school (KISC) we would particularly ask you to pray for this month. 


New Wine – how about going there in 2018

Last  Sunday the BBC’s Songs of Praise came from the New Wine event that Chris Puckrin and the Thompson family have just returned from.

Richard Thompson says “it would be ace if more folk from Moortown could come together for this, and as this year was fully booked up it’s worth booking for next summer’s event as soon as places are available in September.

If you are interested I’m sure Richard, Kathryn or Chris will be more than happy to give you more information.

Meanwood Olympics – Wed 23 August

Meanwood Olympics:  23rd August. 11.30am to 2.30pm at Woodhouse Cricket Club, Meanwood Road, LS6 4AW. Free family fun days packed with games, crafts, dance, sports, music, competitions, races, bike rides and much more! Leaflets available at the back of church.

Messy Church is on the move

Messy Church is moving from Friday tea time to the 2nd Sunday of every month, starting on Sunday 10th September, 3pm – 4.30pm.

Right now we are looking for people to join our team. There are lots of ways you can help; welcome team, kitchen team, craft table, talking to people, helping to set up and/or pack down, worship, PA, prayer team.

If you would like to know more please see Cas.

PHP Code Snippets Powered By :