MCCN The Hayes Conference 2008

Conference 2008

The Hayes Conference Centre

Holding the Conference in November rather than in February or March as we have done in the past seems to have been a good decision. Almost sixty participants attended.

What follows on this page are some brief notes to indicate the topics that were presented and discussed at the conference.

A report of the whole conference is available as a PDF. This report has longer summaries of each of the sessions.

Phil Mason

Both notes and summaries of what was presented or said in discussion are based on my notes taken at the time, what I have recalled since, and in the case of Ann Morisy's sessions, what was printed in her handouts. If you were there and remember something significant that I have omitted or forgotten or would like to add to what I have reported then please e-mail me. – Ken Tait

Wednesday 26th November

Our coordinator, the Revd Phil Mason, welcomed everyone before we began our first session.

Where do we find those spiritual places?

For this session we split into four groups. After introducing ourselves and describing the situation and activities of our churches we discussed these questions:
  1. What do you understand by the term 'spirituality'?
  2. What areas of your ministry do you find have the most significant spiritual dimensions to them?
  3. How do we find those spiritual places?
  4. Are there ways in which, through work, we can more effectively create spiritual places?

Plenary session

Flows, fear and faith

This was the first of three talks by our keynote speaker, Ann Morisey (our conference program has more information about Ann).

A place is a space with flows, flows of people who are moving through the space. Flows are created by people following the daily routine to work, to school, but are also created by deliberate actions such as Street Pastors and constructions like the Angel of the North. Flows are local and global, seasonal as well as daily. It is the flows that make places special. As city centre churches we need to be aware of the flows near our buildings and think about the flows that we might initiate to create special – spiritual – places.

Ann Morisey

Anxiety affects everyone. Many people live with long-term anxiety to which they have become accustomed and are not aware of it. Anxiety causes us to react rather than respond, we become more instinctual and cold in our reactions and responses.

Anxiety can be dealt with in a number of ways. Ann suggested four spiritual habits to cultivate or to inculcate in others.

Faith, 'doing business with God', brings well-being. This is supported by research. It is not money and possessions but a self-emptying way of living that leads to well-being. Well-being is about self-forgetfulness, fun, laughter, creativity,...

Thursday 27th November

Sacred space in hard places

Ann began with the notion of 'vicarious religion'. Many people are pleased that a minority of other people are committed to religious practice, and see that this minority is 'holding a holy place' for them.

She offered the idea of 'apt liturgy' as a term to label those occasions when – whatever the place or time – something happens which lifts the eyes of those involved above the horizon and they respond to those aspects of our humanity that are beyond our creatureliness.

Morning coffee break

Offering an alternative performance

Trying to do good can seem like a performance, being an actor. Performance requires reflection and practice before we can give of our best.

The modern human landscape is extraordinarily fragmented. Each fragment is doing its own performance, separate from others, with no inclination to recognise, accept, or take from others.

One of our targets should be structural advantage. This pertains in situations where the power and control lie in the hands of the few whether in communities, in business, or in government.

The foundation for an alternative performance that subverts structural advantage involves doing it like Jesus:

  • eschewing power
  • willing to risk being overwhelmed
  • subverting the status quo
  • having wide fraternal relations
  • avoiding tit-for-tat behaviour
  • investing in the most unlikely

Methodism – fit for purpose?

Martyn Atkins

Martyn Atkins (General Secretary of the Methodist Church) joined the conference for the afternoon. He set out in the first of two sessions some of the challenges facing the Methodist Church, and in the second session led a discussion in which we were invited to respond.

No ecclesiastical unit can do everything. It is impossible for a local church to be the repository of everything local. So we must begin to emphasise and focus on certain elements and recognise the particularity of congregations and not expect that every congregation should strive to do the same thing.


  • is warm-hearted
  • is inclusively inviting ... open and inclusive
  • is connected and committed
  • is engaged and involved ... often with the marginalised
  • is future shaped ... prophetic but not other worldly ... the world does not have to be the way it is ... this is what young people are looking for – they want to change the world.
  • is passionate about God and prayer
  • is evangelical not fundamentalist
  • is radical but not anarchic
  • holds together personal and social Christianity
  • is committed to working with other groups
  • must be committed to connexionalism

Methodism – fit for purpose? Questions and discussion

This section in the full report is inevitably partial and to some extent incoherent.

Preparing for discussion

Topics that were aired included:

  • the ordained ministry
  • the future
  • connexional team reorganisation
  • the covenant with the Anglicans
  • ecumenism or post-denominationalism
  • renewal

Friday 28th November

New developments – Let's be legally positive

David Walton

David Walton, the Vice President of the Methodist Conference, led our final session of the conference in which he set out to provide legal advise relating to new building developments. However, he was not long into his prepared presentation when he provoked the first of many questions or comments relating to specific development projects that concerned members of his audience.

David raised the following issues for our consideration and benefit

  • Charities: pros and cons – the advantages and disadvantages of being a registered charity
  • The 1976 Methodist Church Act – some of the issues it now raises
  • The 2006 Charities Act – some of its requirements and provisions and possible consequences
  • Let's be positive – Some possible changes (related to developments) coming from the connexion
  • Good developments &nash; advice on preparing for and managing a good project

Holy Communion

We concluded our conference with a service of Holy Communion.

After Holy Communion

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3 December 2008