My rest from being a school governor seems to have drawn to a close.
While Vicar of Neston and Gastard I was governor of two schools in the parish: I enjoyed the camaraderie and sense of contributing to something worthwhile. I stopped these in 2005 as I started my new job with CMS.
I have been invited by Wiltshire County Council to be a governor of Corsham Regis Primary School, in Corsham, and look forward to joining the team.
I've just returned from a week in Austria, organised by Accts MMI (see other articles in this blog) and hosted by the Austrian army chaplaincy.
There were around fifty participants from about ten European countries: mainly from the former communist area plus a lot from Austria. We had gathered to enjoy fellowship and skiing together, as well as to explore what it means to be a Christian in the armed forces. There were impressive speakers giving lectures and Bible studies (I led one of the Bible studies) and participation was enthusiastic.
This is an enjoyable way to do Christian mission, and it was great to see relationships growing during the week.
This is an annual activity by the now-renamed Military Ministries International.
This last weekend I attended my second annual conference of Accts MMI. The chain of events that has led me, with little military background, to be trustee of this organisation devoted to the mutual support and growth of Christians in the armed forces worldwide still seems to me very curious
This unassuming conference held in rural Wiltshire is the only event I know where in a little over one day one can hear something of what God is doing, and how Christians are faring, pretty much world-wide. This achievement flows from the ability of military people to be concise and to the point, and from high quality speakers who are able both to give a clear report and present moving testimonies – for example generals and former ambassadors.
Testimonies range from stories of soldiers greatly respected because their Christian faith brings with it an independent integrity, to those who have been killed because of their faith. The context ranges from countries where religion is seen as unimportant, to those where Christians are oppressed, to those where societies are rapidly becoming Christian as a result of years of prayer and effective strategic planning. This is humbling.
In countries where much power lies in the hands of the armed forces, a movement which seeks to encourage the fear of God and not just the fear of man has much to commend it.
Links to Accts MMI partner organisations:
MSO (Mission Support Organisation, South Korea)
To find out more of my history with Accts MMI, search for “Accts” in this blog.
Today I returned to Send a Cow for a final conversation about the report that I had completed for them about church fund raising.
They clearly valued the work (which was encouraging and good to hear!) and I have enjoyed being part of the charity in this way for the last few months. I was surprised to receive quite a send-off!
Recognising what I am good at and enjoying at the moment, through doing the consultancy work for Send a Cow and the Spiritual Direction course over the Summer now leads me to the bold step of setting up my own business to offer these things. Another influence has been that seeking (employed) work within the church or other organisations has not produced satisfactory results.
I have a particular heart to work with people who are struggling with a sense of identity, purpose, and direction. I realise that this connects the coaching and the consultancy work as both can be about working with individuals, groups, or on a particular issue.
I couldn't resist putting this cute donkey window sticker, from Send a Cow, in our front window. It looks even more realistic in a photo!
I've now clocked up an enjoyable ten days doing marketing consultancy work for the charity that sends not only cows but also goats and bee hives.
The next few weeks hold out time for a trip to Spain, spending time at home, and a (another) course on spiritual direction.
Yesterday I attended my first meeting as a trustee of Accts MMI.
Since meeting General Ian Durie some years ago, when he was their chief executive, I have been interested in their mission work amongst the world's armed forces.
Instead of appointing me to paid work at the beginning of the year they asked me to become a trustee. This will be a good way to serve, and useful experience. The other trustees and staff are an impressive group to spend time with.