All posts by rebecca


Today was my penultimate Sunday in Nairobi; Lavington United Church never fails to amaze me – the Preacher this morning was Rev Canon Rosemary Mbogo [an Anglican, obviously] who was a short middle aged giant of a personality whose booming voice would keep everyone awake and cause mayhem to the timid and the elderly! But she was a good speaker whose message was that if we ignored opportunities with our friends and neighbours, come the day, we would be accountable. No nonsense! She also mentioned that growing churches focused on their young people as they were future leaders of the Church and as a priority over the elderly. Not that the elderly should not be considered at all, but that efforts should be prioritised for the young and the very young.

Rev John Maromba [Circuit Super] took the intercessory prayers [with very feint organ mood music in the background, a la Billy Graham] but not before many announcements [and clapping for good efforts] but also some homilies. Last week the collection was Kenya Shillings KES 860,000 [£6770.oo] of which KES 446,000 [£3430.oo] was from tithing, KES 130,000 {£1000.oo] from the Sunday services offerings plus balance from many other activities. Remember there are five services every Sunday morning with about 400 people at each. He also said that at date they had now collected KES 23. Million towards building a new sanctuary. Super said that every single week since the campaign began he had new funds for the new sanctuary campaign. Tellingly [please note carefully] he said that congregational giving at church was ALWAYS directly linked to spirituality of the church membership and those who did not dip into their pockets should take an immediate look at their own spirituality. The Pastoral Team were responsible for encouraging spirituality. He publicly thanked God and the thanked the congregation for being such a generous and a giving Church. He announced that the Pastoral Team had noticed many children were attending the second and third Sunday morning services and they are, starting next week, having a sixth morning service to scoop these children out of these two services [and making more room at those services] and to have a third service on Sunday morning specifically for young people. The congregation were told to bring all their children and grandchildren and all their friends to the brand new service.

Every week we are all asked to exchange names and why we are attending – my neighbour today was named Ezra and was an Immigration Officer at Nairobi Airport – he was an enthusiastic hand clapper and lively participant in the singing [and signing] of choruses, some of which were in Swahili. I asked Ezra if Lavington was a typical Methodist church in Nairobi and he said it was the biggest Church and was also the liveliest! [For ‘lively’ I think it would be sort of ‘Pentecostal’ in the UK!]. However, it caters for everyday folk as well as some high-income members and definitely attracts many young people.

The congregation is ubiquitously called ‘Church’ by the Leaders and there is enthusiastic clapping when choirs sing [today it was the Swahili Choir [mixed] who were all dressed in bright green outfits [trinity theme] – they sway as they sing and occasionally get into a bit of a dance – ………..not like Hedge End!] There are five Bible study house groups meeting on the Sunday afternoon, so it is quite a day.

That’s all folks!


For Grahams First Post See 26th May blog click here.
For His Second Post see June 6th blog click here.
To see all the blogs click the travelogue category.


Another Letter from Nairobi

Some More thoughts from Graham

I think you should know about the two big growth industries in Nairobi.  Potholes and the security sector.  There are big pot holes in the road because it has been the rainy season [goodness – it happens every year and is called the ‘long rains’]. It does not rain – it pours torrentially for about an hour or so and it would quite impossible to walk for two minutes without being thoroughly drenched.  As a result, traffic is slow, chaotic, disorderly and endless – not helped by the traffic police at all main junctions and roundabouts – complete log-jams break out all over the city every day and the police seem unable to unravel them!

The other big deal is security – everywhere has high walls and metal fences always capped with barbed wire plus 24-hour uniformed guards on all the compounds and office blocks. Seems half of Nairobi is in guards’ uniform of one sort or another…………….even at the Churches.  Curiously, it makes it a safe city, as, unwittingly, there are guards on every corner.

Yesterday Lavington United Church was as idiosyncratic as ever……………a very old Kenyan [ a ‘Mzee’]named Phillip sits outside with me when I am waiting to go in – he is what I call ‘smart-grubby’; he is very tall and almost toothless and speaks reasonable English and is interested in where I come from and he mutters ‘Amen!’ quite frequently – I think he is a saint in disguise and I look forward to our conversations. I think there may be a lot of Phillips in Glory! He is a delight.

I forgot to tell you last week of a couple of the more regular/spontaneous happenings you will not be familiar with. New attendees are asked to stand up and introduce themselves, together with anyone who has been missing for more than a month, after which we all sing that old refrain ‘ there’s a welcome here, there’s a welcome here, there’s a Christian welcome here’ [two times!]. The other oddity is that when the sermon ends, everybody says ‘Amen’ and then there is a round of applause for the preacher In the end, there were ‘over 100’ women who turned up to the all-day Women’s Conference last Saturday…………..and they get a lunch as well[ but LUC do have a school next door which I suspect has a kitchen].

For the month of May the four Sundays have had the theme of ‘The Servant Leader’; the Super preached yesterday and made an interesting statement – ‘it is not that you hope they know, it is that you know they have hope’. Think about it.

A bit about my almost new special subject, ‘Church Finances’;  last week LUC took KES 550,000 shillings [about £4050.oo] which was made up of the Collections, the new Pledges that week [towards the new Sanctuary Fund – this is not money now, but public solemn pledges to deliver when asked later on] and proceeds of  bookstall sales and other sales. The estimated Sanctuary costs are KES 22 million and they have raised KES 14 million so far. EVERY WEEK the current progress in the weekly takings and the current status on the Sanctuary fund is announced and shown on all the CCTV screens………………………and if your car is blocking people in the car park, during the service a small ticker runs along the screen telling the owner of Car Regn XXX XXX to go and move it. The ticker stays there until someone gets up sheepishly and goes outside!  Small children are reasonably behaved, but the odd wanderer is there and is occupied by whoever is nearest and is eventually sent back through the congregation to the parents later on – very casual – all the ladies coo!

Civic Service for Mayor of Eastleigh

On Sunday 31st of May we hosted the Civic Service for The Worshipful the Mayor of the Borough of Eastleigh Councillor Mrs Jane Welsh.  Mrs Jane Welsh is a well known face around Hedge End as she has lived here for the last 57 years.  She has served on Hedge End Town Council for 32 years and has been a member of Eastleigh Borough Council since 1991.  She is also  involved with the Village Hall Committee and the Carnival Committee.

Our Minister Rev. Arthur Cowburn has been appointed the Mayors Chaplain for her year of Office.

We were pleased to welcome many members of Eastleigh Borough Council and their families and friends to the Church for this occasion.  The guests included  Nick Tustion, the chief executive of Eastleigh Borough Council.  There was a rumour that some people had come from the Orkneys to celebrate with us.

The Service content was about Trinity Sunday as well as the civic occasion.  One of the bible readings was  “Isaiah 6: 1-8″, where Isaiah was called by the Lord; this led to us thinking about people being called to their tasks, whether as Church Members or Mayors.  One of the Hymns we sang was ” The Lord’s my Shepherd” which reflected the Mayor’s scottish heritage.

Our Thanks to everyone who had put in the work behind the scenes to make this occasion possible.

Methodists in Kenya

Some words from Graham (one of of Church members) on his adventures whilst working in Kenya

Greetings from Nairobi!

I contacted the local Methodist Church Headquarters for Kenya before I left the UK. They told me about two Methodist Churches in the City.

As a result, as I am working here for a few weeks, I am attending Lavington United Church [LUC] – Lavington which is a short taxi ride from the project apartments where we stay in the nearby suburb of Hurlingham. LUC is about the size of SJR(Saint James Road in Shirley Southampton) although it does have an adjoining Academy/Boarding School and a large prefab meeting hall and it is about to build a new Sanctuary. It is a joint Methodist-Anglican-Presbyterian Church but the Constitution evidently requires that always it is administered in the Methodist tradition. It is over 50 years old.

However, it is a BIG Church in every way – with six different services on Sunday mornings each targeted at a different type of congregation, the Bulletin lists four full time team Ministers and five assistant Ministers/Pastors plus pastoral Support staff. All nine team Members are ordained clergy. It is led by the Superintendent Minister [a Methodist of course!] and the Church Minister who is an Anglican but I do not know the denomination of the others, at least one of whom must be a Presbyterian Minister. Strangely, there is a wide social mix between people who are everyday workers through to senior business people, but they all seem to mix well.

I must tell you about today – the ‘4th Service- English/Family’ as it is called begins at 1130 but it was a little late because the third service [the Youth Service which began at 0930] did not file out until just after 1130, so we began at about 1140. The Sanctuary seats about 400 people and the overflow sit on benches outside and watch the service on CCTV screens. Evidently it is full up for all main services. For the first 20/25 minutes or so there is community hymn/chorus singing, Africa style. {A bit ‘Moody & Sankey’, in some ways, I am happy to say] The 24 person uniformed choir leads but the Church Minister is very musical and has a guitar and a strong voice and he is a sort of cheerful Master of Ceremonies and gets the crowd working. It is both joyous, noisy and sprinkled with clever wit – hand clapping, feet stomping and shaking hands with neighbours always takes place, It is all done standing up but some older people sit down when it gets a bit too much!

After this come the announcements by one of the pastors-always cheerful and identifying individuals for praise if they have done anything for the church – and this always gets a big cheer and clapping. Announcements about future events come here – next Saturday a Ladies Convention is being held in the Church and people are told to turn up early with a free gift for the first 50 –‘the maximum number is 250 people, so do not turn up late!’.

The Minister asked if any teenagers were in the congregation and one feckless youth put his hand up- he was asked to stand up and then all other teenagers were asked to stand up –there ‘ teens service’ was being held by the Youth Pastor in the next building and would they please go there – the Assistant Youth Pastor then stood up and asked them to follow him –everybody clapped when they left and the Minster said we should thank God first, because perhaps we could get another Youth Pastor from this group in a few years’ time.

People who not attended before were asked to stand up and introduce themselves – we all then sang a welcome song to them……..and we all clapped hands again! One newcomer was deaf and the Minister asked if anyone knew sign language – nobody did, but he then asked someone to write the man a note there and then [we all waited], telling him to come back next Sunday and they will have found a signer to sit with him, without fail. The man beamed happily.

The preacher was a person from the choir; a cheerful lady in her thirties. She spoke authoritively without notes for about 25 minutes and was very inspiring and enthusiastic – all services on Sunday morning have the same theme [summarised in the Weekly Bulletin] but, I guess, individually presented by the various different Preachers and the different Services.

They are very big on Prayer Groups and seem to have at least 14 house Groups that meet fortnightly or so with details in the Bulletin. They do not seem to have any Rambles though!

Just a few odd things –

  • they have a school of Prayer and you can progress from level 1 through to Level 3
  • Meetings seem to begin on weekdays at 7.0, 7.30 or 8.00………in the morning!
  • They only say the LORDS Prayer at the Communion Service [the 0700 Service on Sunday]
  • They always have a Church Bookstall selling Christian Books, CDs and other items
  • They own a school bus, as they run a school on site
  • They have a daughter Church

If you are interested – go to .

This is New Testament Methodism I think?

I have seen nothing quite like this in the UK, but it is very thought provoking to go there.

Awards Evening for Boys and Girls Brigades


This Event will take place on Wednesday 24th June at 6.30 p.m. Everyone is welcome to come along and see what the Brigades have been up to.

To give you an idea of what to expect an article about a previous awards Evening is below.

During the Evening, Relatives and Friends of the Boys and Girls  Brigades attended the Annual Display and Awards Evening. This was an opportunity for us all to see what the Brigades had been up to during the last year, and congratulate them on the Badges they had achieved. We were pleased to welcome the Boys Brigade Battalion President, to present the Awards.
Our thanks to all who where involved in this enjoyable event.

To see more about the Brigades please look at


Congratulations Blue Team

Congratulations to the Hedge End Methodist Blue Football Team who won there match against Leigh Park yesterday. Making them the proud holders of the Solent Churches League Cup. The score of the Match was 2 Goals to 1.   A short Video of the team receiving the Cup was shown during this mornings Church Service.

If you would like to find out more details about the Cup Final or about the football teams please see.

New Music Makers Concert

The New Music Makers have a concert coming up on Friday 5th June at the  Berry Theatre in Hedge End.

The New Music Makers practice their singing in Hedge End Methodist Church on a Thursday Evening.

More details about them and  there  concerts can be found at:-

More details of the concert at the Berry Theatre can be found at

Happy Gardeners and Jigsaw Puzzlers

2015-05-01 09.22.21

On Saturday 2nd May we held our Jigsaw Puzzle Festival and Plant Sale.  This event was attended by well over a hundred people some of whom had travelled to be with us for the occasion and some Hedge End regulars.

We sold  over 150 of the ready assembled jigsaws and several hundred plants.  No doubt many of the people who have been preparing for this event for months are pleased to have space in there homes and garages again.

Many People took the opportunity to catch up with their friends while eating the cakes and ploughmans lunches that were available on the day.

Our Thanks to the Village Hall and the United Reform Church for kindly lending us the extra tables needed.  Our Thanks also to all those people who helped in any way to make this event possible.

Many people asked if we would be holding another Jigsaw Festival in the future; this decision has not yet been made, but watch this space.

In the meantime we are looking forward to our Autumn fayre which will be held on the 17th October.

Football Teams

Please note that for various reasons a decision was made in 2018 to disband the Football teams.  Our thanks to everyone whom has made the teams possible over the years.

Since 2009 Hedge End Methodist Church has had  two football teams who complete in the Solent Churches League. They are known as Hedge End Methodist Reds and Hedge End  Methodist Blues. The Solent Churches League has been described as “Church teams whose aims are to use football as a tool to share the Christian message with others”.  There is no requirement for players to be practicising Christians or religious but they are required to fully respect the faith and abide by the league and Club rules.

We are pleased to report that the  Blue Team has gone through the whole season without losing a Match. The Team hopes to continue its success by beating Leigh Park  in the League Cup final which will be played on  16th May.

If you would like to find out more details about this Match or what the Red Team have been up to please see

Jigsaw Puzzle Festival and Plant Sale

Spring Fayre

On Saturday 2nd May from  10 a.m. to 4 p.m. we will be holding a JIGSAW PUZZLE FESTIVAL AND PLANT SALE There will be an Admission charge of 50p which will give you access to hundreds of Jigsaws to View and Purchase, of several different sizes up to 1000 pieces. The Jigsaws are displayed already made up so you can see all the pieces are there. When you buy one it will be placed in a plastic bag, back into its box. Plants for Sale including,Annuals– many varieties, Perennials,Herbs Veg plants,Tomato hanging baskets and Potted summer flower arrangements. Refreshments available all day including Ploughmans at Lunchtime.