Let the train cause the strain

Our Diocesan commitment to environmental responsibility means that journies outside of the Diocese have to be taken by Public transport. The conference in Wakefield last week was the first major trip beyond the bounds since the transport policy was aligned with other environmental responses.
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So how did this initial experiment go I hear you ask?
Not great! The journey there would have taken three and a half hours by car (granted there could have been traffic jams but I generally avoid them with a mixture of RDS radio reports and driving at a time which minimises the posibility). The way there wasn’t too bad with the trains on time, and the seat reservations in place giving a door-to-door travelling time of just under five hours.
The way back however was more taxing. The train I was booked on was cancelled (due to vandalism so admittedly beyond the Train companies control) so a wait at the station until an overloaded and old 125 pulled in. I was fortunate enough to get a seat and thus the train bounced and rocked towards London. Arriving in London I discovered that the Victoria Line was shut due to strike action and a train had broken down on the Circle line. The underground platform was overflowing back to the escalators and I sat on my rucksack for a good while in the corridor. Once the Circle line started working again I managed to cram into a very packed carriage and toottle round to Paddington. Now at this point the train company do deserve credit as they allowed me onto a train that my ticket wasn’t valid for (given that my train South had been cancelled causing the missed connection). Finally got back to Macdonald Towers six and a quarter hours after leaving the hotel.
As well as the environmental benefits it’s aslo considered that we get some valuable work time on the train. This wasn’t my experience however as on the way there the first train was too packed, the second had no curtain and the sun was too bright to see the Laptop screen. On the way back the train was swaying, bouncing and rocking too much to achieve much meaningful endevour.
So I find myself in a quandry, fundamentally agreeing with the environmental rationale BUT hating the practice.
We have to invest in Public transport in this country but with all the money gone to propping up the banks (and paying MPs expenses), I’m unsure how this will happen!

The News ………….

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Base 33 is a superb youth project in Witney (Oxfordshire) , they are currently looking for a new Director. Details: Base 33 ADVERT.pdf
FYT have sent me advanced notice of a network conference for those Christian based youth workers working with young people on the edge, outside the church, in hard to reach settings etc. September 2-3. Birmingham. A partnership event with FYT, Worth Unlimited, East to West, Living Well Trust, Church Urban Fund, 24/7 Prayer network. More details (including the title !!) to follow just as soon as they are available. E-mail Nigel Pimlott to register an interest.
On September 26th the Growing Leaders (Youth Edition) training day will be coming to Oxfordshire. I’m still sorting out the details with CPAS but let me know if you would like more information.
Tony Campolo is in town on the 10th June. Go and hear him if you can! Details
Foundations 21, the online Discipleship course from BRF is now being made available free. Details here if you are interested

A couple of holiday opportunities:

Cathedral Camps are working holidays for 12-25’s
Cathedral camps.pdf
Smallwood is a houseparty for 10-13’s run by Urban Saints
Smallwood Flyer.pdf

End of a blogging era

ys marko blogger.jpgYouth ministry uber blogger YS Marko is calling it a day and withdrawing from Twitter, FB and blogging!
Marko and I met at Soul Survivor back in 2005 (or it might have been 2004?) and discussed our respective fledgling blogs. I’ve been a regular reader of Marko’s blog since … especially as he is among a very small number of Youth Ministry bloggers who post very regularly AND use the blog for reflection and discussion. I’ve linked to his blog over forty times in the last five years! Marko is bowing out of the blogosphere as part of re-prioritising his life and time, fair play!
It’ll be weird not tuning in each day Marko! Every blessing for the future.
(It looks like I didn’t finish my review of YM 3.0 in time eh!)

Christian car?

Idly fettling in the shed and casting an ocassional eye at the incoming e-mails I happened to notice a bit of SPAM that made it past the Diocesan Spam Bouncer. The unsolicited advert in question was offering me a Christian car! (I guess it depends on how you punctuate the e-mail title, but I like my reading of it). This set me off on a muse regarding automobile names and especially those that might hint at a redeemed status. (Forgiven from their ‘Manifold’ sins*)
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Messing about with the names ‘a bit’ I got

  • The Rolls Royce Holy Ghost
  • The Nissan (narrow) Pathfinder
  • The BMW (John) 316

I’ve got to get back to fence building and the like, so over to you!
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*this gag only works if you are familiar with the technical term for where the exhaust system and engine join!

No time like the pleasant

I’m off work for a couple of days and won’t be, either driving the desk or travelling the Diocese until Thursday. However I figure this week will either be REALLY busy for youth workers or you’ll be taking a break too, thus I won’t be too anxious if the blogging is more ‘Special K’ than the ‘Full English’


I had a fantastic morning in Bradford yesterday, meeting the crew of E:Merge, a Christian youth work project in the heart of a deprived area of the city. They talked us through the work that they do which involved detached, school based, centre based (their own in a disused church), sports and specific summer projects.
E:merge has been running for over 12 years and it was obvious that the workers loved both the area and the young people they serve there. They face enormous hurdles with funding, challenging behaviour and how much they deliver tagetted work with targetted groups (which attract funding) or continue to engage on the basis of the voluntary participation of the young people. None of which detracted from the commitment to inspring young people and helping them to encouter opportunity.
bradford academy.jpgWe then went on to Bradford Academy where E:merge are very much involved. The headmaster spoke passionately about the work of the academy and particularly recognised the work E:merge do paying tribute to the fact they were local, had been around long enough to be trusted, worked with the young people in the community, on the streets and in the school and that there work was based around when young people needed them, the Head’ noting that Young People tend not to have crisis in office hours. The academy too was a real encouragment, the values and practices seem to be really well aligned. I loved the importance too of affirmation … and their policy of NEVER excluding a pupil.
It was an fantastic morning and so good to see such a great piece of gritty, gutsy Christian youth and community work. Work that recognised that the work had to be long term, needs based, incarnational and flexibly delivered.
Last year Jude Simpson wrote a book about the project called “Just Walk with Me” which I am now reading and finding heartbreakingly inspiring.