Message from our minister, October 2017

A man had to walk across a desert. Hungry and thirsty he eventually came to a small village and asked the villagers if he could have something to eat and drink. Unfortunately for him, one by one the villagers told the man “Sorry – the harvest was bad and I barely have enough for my own family.”

Hungry, thirsty and discouraged the man sat down under a tree. Suddenly an idea occurred to him. He searched and found a stone and called the villagers over to him in a loud voice.

“Friends, your worries are over. I have in my hand a special stone that will greatly improve your lot in life. This is a magic stone. With it you can make stone soup.”

“Stone soup?” an old man repeated. “I have never heard of stone soup.” “The wonder of stone soup,” the stranger continued, “is that it not only feeds hungry people, it also brings people together. Now who has the largest empty pot?”

Quickly a huge iron pot was found. “The pot is barely large enough, but it will do,” the stranger said. “Now we must fill the pot with water and start a fire.”

The intrigued villagers brought water and firewood. As the water began to boil the stranger dramatically raised the magic stone above his head, and then he gently placed it in the pot.

“Stone soup needs salt and pepper,” the stranger announced. Two children ran to find salt and pepper. After the water had boiled for few minutes the stranger sipped the brew. “This stone makes an excellent soup, but it would be better if we had a few carrots.”

“We have a few carrots that we’re willing to share,” a farmer replied. Immediately his daughter ran home and returned with an apron full of carrots.

“It’s a shame the harvest was so bad,” said the stranger. “Stone soup always tastes better if you add a cabbage or two.” “I think I know where to find a cabbage,” a young mother shouted as she dashed towards her home.

“The last time I made stone soup was at the castle of a rich man. He added a few potatoes and a bit of beef.”

Several people talked quietly, “A bit of beef and we can eat like rich people”, they whispered. They went home and soon returned not only with beef and potatoes, but some brought milk, onions and barley too.

By the time the soup was ready it was almost dark. The aroma of the stone soup was so enticing the villagers couldn’t wait to taste it. The stranger finally declared that it was done and invited everyone to have as much as they could eat. The villagers ate and had a lovely time together! It was an evening they would never forget.

The next morning the whole village gathered to say goodbye to the stranger. As he was leaving a small child called out, “You forgot to take your magic stone!”

The stranger smiled. “I am going to leave the stone with you as gift of gratitude for your hospitality,” he said. “Remember, as long as you make stone soup, you will never have to worry about being hungry.”


Rev Andy Clark

Message from our minister, June 2017

It’s only a few weeks since London suffered a shocking terrorist attack and now we have learned of another tragic incident in Manchester. Andrew Lunn, who used to be one of my lecturers when I was a student, is now a Chair of District and he writes the following…
Best wishes,

Rev Andy Clark

From Andrew Lunn, Chair of Manchester and Stockport District, and Paul Martin, Chair Bolton
and Rochdale District

In the face of the violent and deadly attack at the Manchester Arena, the Methodist people in Manchester are united with many others in their sense of shock, and in their prayers for all those who
have been bereaved, wounded, or traumatised.

As we seek to respond to this terrible event we are grateful for those who have affirmed that, so far as it is possible, we will not let this attack change our daily lives. Some people have been tweeting using the hashtag #WeAreNotAfraid – in this way those who are stronger support those who feel the weight of anxiety, pain and fear.

Among the stories beginning to emerge there are many about the ways people have sought to help others: providing safe places, or lifts home, or passing on messages to help those who were separated find each other. It is through such small acts that we reaffirm our commitment to one another. Every such act makes a stand against violence and fear.

In a diverse city one thing we can be sure of is that people in Manchester will not let this event divide us. Manchester is the home of a movement called We Stand Together (#WeStandTogether), in
which people of many different faiths and backgrounds recognise that we find strength in our common humanity.

We are deeply grateful for the many assurances of prayer which we have received from around the country.

God of compassion and mercy,
amidst the pain and trauma of this day we turn to you,
for through Christ crucified we know that you have taken to heart the suffering of our people. In fear and anxiety, strengthen us.

In despair and pain, comfort us.
In incomprehension and anger, reassure us that your love and life are stronger than the hatred and violence which overshadows our city today.

Console those who carry a burden of loss, injury, or trauma and empower all who support them. Strengthen all who seek to stand together in peace and unity.

We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Message from our minister, May 2017

Easter is upon us once more – and may I convey my warmest Easter Greetings to you all. Some of you, if you’re like me, will have eaten too much chocolate over the Easter weekend, perhaps after giving it up for Lent. Well, unbeknown to you I gave something up for Lent – light bulb jokes – so now that Lent is over I wonder if you would indulge me in a few….

A) How many mystery writers does it take to change a light bulb?

Two – one to screw it almost all the way in and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

B) How many real men does it take to change a light bulb?

None. Real men aren’t afraid of the dark.

C) How many Methodists does it take to change a light bulb?

Well, I remember one occasion when it took five of us actually. Of course we were all real men and not afraid of the dark but nevertheless we were asked to fix one of the lights in the church. We first discussed the safest way to get the large old ladder to straddle the pews. Three of us eventually held the ladder in place and one climbed the ladder to change the bulb. It would have been barely possible, and very dangerous, with one. It would certainly have been possible, though still not particularly safe, with two. With three it could have been done safely and well but there seemed no harm in adding another two to make a team of five. It was more fun working as a group.

I was walking Max in the park today and happened upon a group of dog walkers together. It’s a common sight – the already enjoyable pursuit of dog walking can be improved still further when shared with other dog walkers. Sometimes things are just better when shared with others.

During our Lent Studies this year we had 14-18 people that came along every week and shared their experiences of following Jesus. Making time to study God’s word with others and honestly reflecting on the joys and challenges of living for Him can really help us to grow as Christians. House groups, for example, offer prayer, Bible study, support in times of need or stress, and friendship at a deeper level. We are fortunate to have such groups led by Linda and Anne, but could we have more such groups? Reaching a wider group of people? Would you be interested in joining such a group?

If your answer to any of these questions is yes why not come and have a word with me about it. When Mary Magdalene met with the risen Jesus he suggested she go and share the news with the disciples! The disciples on the Road to Emmaus, on recognising Jesus also hot footed it to share the news with the others. The followers of Jesus have been sharing news of Him with each other ever since! And house groups stand proudly in that tradition. As the disciples gathered together, Jesus appeared to them and they were filled with joy. I hope you will have a share in that joy over the Easter season and beyond…


Message from our minister, April 2017

In my younger days I wondered what all the fuss was about the resurrection. On the one hand I wondered why anyone wouldn’t believe in it. On the other I wondered what the problem was even if they didn’t believe in the resurrection. I couldn’t see why it was that important. I felt that it would be of far more use to us to consider what Jesus had to teach us during his ministry rather than
deliberate on his death.

Nowadays I see it a bit differently. Death is the great equaliser – no matter where we are from, how old we are, how prosperous we are or how downtrodden we are – we know that we are going to die and that death is final – to come back to life after death is impossible. This is why the resurrection of Jesus is central to the Christian faith. When we are mindful of the sheer implausibility of the resurrection we begin to see its importance.

The author George Ladd is in no doubt of the importance of the resurrection, “If Jesus is dead, his entire message is negated. If he is dead, the hope of a triumphant coming of the heavenly Son of Man is obviously impossible. Furthermore, if Jesus is dead, his entire message about the Kingdom of God is a delusion.” You see it is the resurrection of Jesus that validates everything he said
and did. His works aren’t just to be seen as good works by a good man. He did those things not just as a man but as the Son of God.

And, no one other than Jesus has ever been recorded as being resurrected. There are other cases in the Bible of people being brought back to life, having died, of whom Lazarus is the most obvious example, but only Jesus was resurrected. As the author John Stott said, “Resurrection, is not the same as resuscitation. Those whom Jesus raised from death during his earthly ministry were resuscitated. They came back from death, resumed their former way of life, and then later died a second time. Resurrection, however, means the beginning of a new, a different, and immortal life.”

No human could come back from the dead so this event is something supernatural. There must be something different about Jesus. And, of course, the pages of scripture tell us exactly what that difference is – that Jesus is the Son of God. He is unique! For Christians the resurrection is final proof that Jesus is the Son of God.

Whatever your plans are this spring – I hope this will give you a lot of joy over the season. I wish you a very happy Easter.


Rev Andy Clark

Message from our minister, March 2017

As I write this I’ve just come home from the Friday morning prayer meeting. It is led by Ann, and is a great way for those of us that come to focus our thoughts on God, to enjoy spending time in his presence, and to share with Him and each other our thoughts, hopes and concerns. The pattern is Bible study, followed by the leader’s prayer, followed by open prayer. We are also blessed to have the monthly Saturday morning prayer meeting led by Andre – this meeting has a stronger emphasis on open prayer and happens on the last Saturday of the month.

Prayer meetings can be a bit intimidating for some who are not used to them. “What if there are awkward silences? What if my prayer isn’t as good as everybody else’s? What if I can’t think of anything to say? Perhaps I’d better leave those meetings to the people who are better at praying out loud than I am….” Actually the best way to answer such questions would be to come along a few times and see how you get on. Jesus offered different models of prayer – In Matthew 6 it is suggested that it is good to pray privately on your own – without making a show of it. But in Matthew 18 we are told that when two or three gather in Jesus’ name He is there with them. Prayer meetings, then, are not ‘instead of’ personal prayers; they are in addition to them. And actually they can be very useful if you are finding it difficult to pray on your own – something that many Christians will struggle with every now and then.

It’s also worth turning to God in prayer when big decisions have to be made – not to get out of making them (!) – but rather to share our plans with Him and seek his blessing on them. Just at the moment the church has a number of decisions to make. John and Joanna B. have done a wonderful job heading up our contemporary service – so how shall we develop the service now that they are moving on to pasture new? The parlour area of the church is where most of our building users enter and exit the building – so can we develop it to make it a more user friendly space? And the Circuit has asked each church to come up with a Mission Action Plan (which we are calling the 1% challenge – read on to learn more!) so this will also involve continued decision making.

Those attending the prayer meetings have already started praying about some of these things which is a great comfort to me. After all, the old proverb says, ‘Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.’ (Proverbs 19: 21) In all of our decision making, and in all the work we do as a church community we need to show God we are dependent on Him – not independent of Him! How do we do that? The prayer meeting is a good start…..


Rev Andy Clark