Lindisfarne Goes Global

Julia Myles, 2nd Year Ordinand writes:

My Pentecost sermon at Evensong had begun thus, ‘As part of my training for ordination I had the privilege of spending last weekend with Anglican and Methodist Church leaders from around the world: a Bishop from Zimbabwe, a Precentor from Ghana, a Priest from South India, others from Burma, and Sri Lanka. They were overflowing with enthusiasm for the gospel, testifying to God’s goodness despite some having lived in situations of difficulty that I couldn’t begin to imagine. The effect they had on me was profound and I have reflected on it often this week.’

My Facebook status once I had arrived home from that weekend on Sunday 20 May was rather more informal, ‘Loving the wonderful company of the Selly Oak Colleges Mission Society group that joined us in the North East this weekend. UK needs you HERE as missionaries guys!! You have lifted my spirits, fuelled my faith and reminded me of a part of who I am. THANK YOU!!’

This had been a very special Ordinand’s Residential Training weekend with Lindisfarne. Having taught in inner-city Birmingham and moved to the Tyne Valley in 2003, the cultural diversity had always been one of the biggest losses for me. The weekend had given us opportunity to host these special visitors at Shepherd’s Dene and we gained so much from it ourselves. Spending times in small groups talking about who Jesus was to each of us was very poignant. To Pavan, a Priest in the Church of South India, Christ was ‘a friend of the oppressed’; in particular to the Dalit people. To Ebeneezer, a Canon from Akra Cathedral in Ghana, Christ had become ‘a black brother, an encourager, one who helps them over obstacles’. It was a privilege to walk and talk to these brothers and sisters in Christ as we toured Newcastle and Gateshead. It was special to join the Mission Initiative Newcastle East tent at the Walker Park Festival and sing ‘Amazing Grace’ in the ‘Wor Church!’ tent. We heard from Stephen Herbert at St Martin’s, Byker and visited the new garden overlooking the Tyne at St Michael’s Byker. Crossing the Millennium Bridge we were led by the Revd Jon Wilkinson to St Edmund’s Gateshead and Sanctuary Artspace and heard from the Revd Jim Craig, Chaplain to the Arts.

I revert back to my sermon in an effort to describe how special it was to be in the company of these students who had left home and family to study for Masters degrees in Birmingham for a year. Some had left newborn babies and were watching them learn to walk via Skype … and we think training is hard!!

‘It seemed to me that the vibrancy of these people was far more than simply a cultural one. Yes, there was a distinct lack of our famous British reserve – I doubt that Chelsea fans of white British origin could have equalled the dancing, whooping, praising and charging in and out I witnessed on Saturday night when that winning penalty hit the back of the net!

Quite apart from this exuberant celebration of victory – I heard quiet, slow and moving accounts of faith forced to play the long game, a hard game where there are no victors. Faith refined in the fires of civil war or religious intolerance. This was tenacious faith, kept alive, I felt, by the very breath of God, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.’

It was very apt that we spent time in this Pentecost season with people of whom it was clear that God had given them a ‘new heart and put a new spirit within them’. Thank you Lindisfarne for a very special weekend.

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