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THE CONTENTS OF MY HEAD AND HEART
SO DO CHECK BACK-MEANWHILE :
Pat and John fed me, prayed for me and then made me a packed lunch and sent me on my way. I arrived at God TV around 10:30 a.m on the dot and again John Lonsdale had even arranged a parking spot for me in the underground car park. I met with Jens the European director, had tea and biscuits and got a great interview.
Audrey was his PA and she put me in contact with a church not 5 minutes away.I walked down there under a very gloomy Sunderland sky. It wasn’t cold mind you, but by gum it was gloomy and heavy along with it. This is the second time I had been to Sunderland, it was raining the last time.
I found the church and the back of it had graffiti all over it and the front of it looked like Fort Knox, with entry phone and pull down metal shutters. The church was called Hope but it was bolted up and under the grey sky did not depict its’ name. The wonderful lady inside however, not only gave me a few more contact numbers, but said that the church was doing exceptionally well.
I walked back to God TV and re-parked myself in their Café and accessed the free Wi Fi. I made the usual calls but Sunderland was closed. However, though the priest in charge of Sunderland Minster was away, the lovely lady left to administrate said I could come along and speak my message. There was even a thriving Café and Bistro which was pretty busy at the moment. So I asked if I could speak there. She said she would ask the manager. So, Sunderland Minster, here I come.
No offence to Sunderland or its people, but the lack of inward investment is clearly seen on all the run down streets. Those that love this city will no doubt tell me different, but over all, despite the multitudes of bustling shoppers under this very grey sky, Sunderland seemed a very sad old place.
The Minster was tucked away in the Centre of the city, but was open and the Café was thriving. Margaret the administrator told me that the manager did not want me to disturb her customers. I fully understood, but I wanted to know if she would allow me to invite her customers to a five minute meditation. I went down the Café and it was very busy. I tried to speak to the manager and as I approached the door it was unceremoniously closed upon me. Message received and understood.
I left the café and literally bumped into three young women from Cyprus who were looking for an Orthodox church. I told them I was an Orthodox Minister and would be doing a Bible meditation shortly and they were invited to stay. Indeed, I even recruited one of them to do the filming. Frankly they were too polite to say no.
I spoke from the front of the Minster about John Mark, the last words recorded in the Gospel being from a Roman Soldier and the fact that John Mark had damaged a missionary team, sending both he and Barnabas back to Cyprus. It seemed a very appropriate message for these three young ladies and Bob, after which I prayed for them and they departed.
Bob is the head verger and he is at the church every day. A lovely and knowledgeable man, he took time to show me around the church building.
I was fascinated by the fact that in the list of incumbents, there were three names which were followed by the bracketed term of (INTRUDER). Apparantly these were Puritan ministers appointed by Cromwell. ‘Intruders’ indeed. Religious episcopacy held dear its apostolic succession and special licencing. Indeed, all religious institutions ‘protect’ their pulpits less the very stupid sheep are misled by someone who with a couple more brain cells than they, should arrive and lead them astray.
One of the rooms in the minster has a portrait of John Wesley on the wall which he had commissioned for them as a gift. Apparantly he was taken care of by the minster when he regularly came to preach on the green outside, but he was never allowed to preach inside the church. Even though he was an Anglican minister, he was outside his appointed Parish and way outside the bounds of good churchmanship. By the way, we independants are no different and are often much much worse in our lack of openness to what God may be doing. My wife for example, trying to find a church for me to speak in Rippon this Sunday got the following email back
Dear Mrs Farrell,
Thank you for your message. However, we already have our services arranged for that day, nor would we accept a preacher unknown to us without a prior reference and commendation from his (Bible believing) church.
Kind regards, etc
It’s a polite and informative email. I am an INTRUDER, indeed, a much rushed priest came up to me and Bob and said he forgave me for inviting myself to preach in his church. He wasn’t joking and despite my getting permission to do so, made it very obvious that my actions had been a very rude intrusion. Sigh. It was a very brief and weird encounter without any open malice but it did highlight to me the gross secterianism we proliferate within the Kingdom of God. The five fold ministries only exist within our denominational parameters and then with much control. This is the way it is. Maybe this is the way it has to be. However, let none of us call it the Kingdom of God, but rather let us refer to it as ‘The Confinement of the Spirit’. I did a couple of interviews and went back into town.
By now I had lost any heart do anything else. The grey drab and lifeless city centre did nothing to cheer my spirits, so I spent the rest of the afternoon in Maccy D’s catching up on administration. A colleague had recommended I get an external hard drive to back up all this vital video data. So, I npped round the corner to Rymans and got a cheap back up facility which I would back up to daily and keep in my suitcase in the car.
I collected the car from the underground parking lot at God TV ate around 5:30pm and headed on back to my hosts, where tonight they were hosting a wee birthday party for a young man of 88.
I got back around 6:15pm and connected the drive to begin the back ups and tried to set some video uploads onto a very weak wireless signal.
Pat is a tremendous cook and the Gammon and Pineapple with parsley sauce and boiled potatoes with fresh garden picked vegetables went down a treat. Add to that the blackberry cordial and the trifle and custard and you will understand how after a very disappointing day in Sunderland that I began to be cheered. Robert, aged 88, was as bright as a button and as sharp as a tack, being able to remember with intricate detail and accuracy, every event of his long and well informed life. It was a fascinating couple of hours before I politely excused myself to my room to follow up on the backups and chase down some family matters.
I went to bed around 11:30pm, setting the alarm for 4:45am. I still had a lot to do before I was ready for Durham.
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