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disagreeing without being disagreeable

The article below was Originally from Moira Sleight, Managing Editor of the Methodist Recorder and has been submitted by one of our Church Members as food for thought.

The tricky art of disagreeing without being disagreeable

Captain of Israel’s host was sung with great gusto in the Methodist Central Hall Westminster as last year’s Conference of the British Methodist Church came to an end with its traditional closing hymn. True, some felt that the hymn that had opened the proceedings had a first line more suited to our exhausted feelings — Charles Wesley’s “And are we yet alive?” — but for another year the conference’s work was done.

Meeting in conference is a very Methodist way of doing things. Wherever you find Methodists in the world — from Russia to Brazil, from Finland to Kenya and to South Africa — they hold a conference in order to confer together and find their way forward as disciples of Christ in today’s world.

In doing so they are following in a long tradition. The first Methodist Conference was held in 1744 under Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, when he brought together his assistants — both ordained ministers and itinerant lay preachers — to confer about “what to learn, how to teach and what to do”.

In his writings, Wesley referred to “Christian conference” as a means of grace and at its best it can be. Anyone who has been at a bad-tempered church council meeting or synod will know what it can be at its worst.

Wesley also sensibly once asked: “Do not you converse too long at a time? Is not an hour commonly enough? Would it not be well always to have a determinate end in view; and to pray before and after it?” Many people who have served on church committees at any level would say “amen” to that.

In recent years American Methodists have been exploring the idea of “holy conferencing”, which sets out principles to help Christians to be caring in their conversations, conferring and decision-making, especially when dealing with polarising subject matters.

It should be possible to disagree without being disagreeable, they say. In his Letter to the Ephesians, St Paul felt he needed to urge his readers: “So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbours, for we are members of one another . . . Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up.” Sadly, over the centuries the Churches of all denominations have not always shown that they have taken this advice to heart.

Holy conferencing does not mean that there is no place for impassioned speech. On the contrary, if people feel strongly about something, then it is natural that their passion will show. Within that passion, though, others should be respected and their viewpoints not misrepresented. In this soundbite age, when people are vilified for making comments that have been taken out of context, this is more important than ever.

The principles put much emphasis on real listening. Holy conferencing is not about convincing others that we are right. Instead it is about listening to others in such a way that we come to understand better why they hold their beliefs. That means proper listening — not just preparing what we are going to say next while we wait for them to finish. True listening is not a passive activity but a demanding one. It involves concentration and is hard work.

When we understand another person because we have listened to them properly — whether in a church, community or political setting — we are less likely to demonise them. We are thus better able to interact with them, coexist with them and, yes, co-operate with them, in spite of real differences.

Holy conferencing is a set of principles we should all be applying to the way we conduct ourselves not just in our church lives, but also in our working lives and personal lives too — and how about over the square from Methodist Central Hall in the Houses of Parliament?


Operation Christmas Child


Near Christmas the Samaritans Purse Charity distributes Shoe Boxes filled with Gifts to Children overseas mostly in the countries of Eastern Europe and Africa.

Many of the parents of these Children can hardly afford to feed and clothe there children, let alone buy them presents for Christmas, but thanks to your generosity thousands of these children have received a brightly wrapped shoebox filled with presents to make the festive season special.

Our church has been donating boxes since 2003 when 23 were given one year we managed to send  41 boxes.

Hats and Gloves that are suitable for inclusion in the boxes have been knitted by a member of the congragation and will be available in the Hall on Sundays.

If you are able to donate this year please bring your box along  on 1st or 8th November, and leave it on the table in the church hall.

The Charity requests a donation of £3 towards their costs in getting the boxes to there final destination. Leaflets are available giving more details about all this. The leaflets also contain labels so that the correct recipient of the boxes can be assured. They say things like Boy aged 2 to 5.

You could also look at the website below for more details.

Thank you.

Awayday at Netley

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On Saturday 3rd October  nineteen  people met at the Netley Methodist Church for our Awayday. The day was led by our Minister the Rev. Arthur Cowburn.  Netley Methodist Church is now used by a group called Pioneer as it was made redundant by the Southampton Circuit a few years ago.  We were pleased to have some former members from the Church with us who now attend Hedge End.  Those of us who had visited previously found it strange that it had chairs rather than the Pews now.

Our Study was focused on the Holy Spirit. Some of our Study Material was based on the  Alpha Course Material and some of it was created by Rev. Arthur Cowburn. We had many chances for discussion in large and small groups and it was interesting to hear many peoples different experiences  and Views of the Holy Spirit.

We Studied in several sessions having breaks in the Morning, for Lunch and in the Afternoon. We had several different sorts of cake in the Afternoon which had kindly been made by members of the congragation.

The day was not all spent in serious contemplation, as some of it was very lighthearted, and in the breaks and during Lunch we were able to spend some time enjoying the company of our fellow attendees.

Exploring Healing


On Saturday  10th October we will be holding our next Jammy Church. This event will take place between 10.30 and 12.30 p.m.

We shall be exploring Healing, Focusing on The Story of the Ten Lepers in Luke Chapter 17.

Jammy Church is our once monthly  activity session for children, their families and the young at heart.    There will be various activities and crafts to take part in and some food to eat.  You do not need to attend all the session; you could just pop in to see what we are up to.

More information can be found on the Jammy Church Facebook page.

The Picture above is from last Months Jammy Church on The Laws for Living.

2015 Harvest Celebrations


The Pictures above all on the theme of Harvest. Some were taken at Jammy Church on Saturday 12th September and some are from are Harvest Festival Service last week. We are grateful to all those people who bought food in. The Food has now been donated to the Southampton Basics Bank and St Dismas. Thank you to all those People who decorated the Church for Harvest and those that helped to make Jammy Church Possible.

Our New Scarecrows


Meet our New Scarecrows. “Wurzel” and “Sally” these were made by kind volunteers at the weekend. They have been placed outside the Church to publicise our Harvest Festival. Which will take place this Sunday. (See the Harvest Festival  2015 blog for details).  We have made scarecrows for this event for three years now. We hope that the weather improves and we will not have to call them “Wet” and “Soggy” instead.

Fair Oak Fun

On Thursday 23rd July eighteen  of us met up in the early evening for a Ramble around Stoke Park woods in Fair Oak.  We saw a Hare in one of the fields near the path. We also enjoyed a view of Winchester, (approximately 5 miles away). If we had been inclined we could have followed a different path through the Woods until we had reached Bishopstoke. We all enjoyed catching up with each others news whilst strolling round.

One of our regular walking couples had bought some relatives with them, and it was the gentlemens Birthday, so we got to enjoy his birthday cake when we met up to continue our discussions in the Clock Inn. Our Thanks to those kind people who had organised the Ramble for us.

Our new Methodist President visit next door!

Last Sunday evening our new Methodist President, the Reverend Steve Wild was in the Meon Valley Circuit and preached at Shirrell Heath Methodist Church, the very first Sunday following his induction. Our new President is quite a character! He has a lively wit and a very unusual personality – not a staid, quiet cerebral sort, but a very outgoing personality and a strong character. He reminisced somewhat amusingly about his life in Methodism and found time to give thanks to those in the congregation he knew from the past, including Phillip Seaton, with whom he had been to Bible College at the same time.

He reminded us that his Mission in his Presidential Year was for each Methodist Community to get at least one convert during the year [not a Church Transfer mind you!] and that a small Church in Cornwall district with just 8 members has grown in a short period to 45 Members and is still growing . He gave examples of people he had met in recent days and how he spoke with them about his faith. He reminded us that prayer was important in Church life and we should – each and every one of us-  look for daily opportunities to share our faith with others. Not everybody is as skilful as our President but with time and prayer, I am sure we can all improve.

He also publicly anointed those from the local Church who were participating in the up-coming Wickham Festival and he also anointed with oil, any who were personally concerned about church outreach in their own local communities.

Incidentally, Shirrell Heath was an elderly building but a few years back but it is now a new modern purpose built place which can easily and quickly be reorganised for various purposes. Looks very nice.

It was worth attending. Opportunities like this do not come often and the experience was thought provoking. It was also a good time to meet others from the wider Southampton District who were there as well.