Biggest football transfer: Stuart Pearce comes out of retirement!

Stuart Pearce

In what has to be the biggest news of the January transfer market, the so-called ‘worst team in English football’, Longford AFC, have coaxed England and Nottingham Forest legend Stuart Pearce out of retirement and into their defensive ranks.

The former England defender won 78 caps for his country in a glittering career, playing most notably for Forest, before going on to manage Manchester City and England’s under-21s as well as a short and ill-fated spell in charge of Forest.

His final hurrah as a player, however, will be for Longford AFC, dubbed the worst team in the UK due to the fact that they sit bottom of the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division Two and have lost all 19 of their games this season, their first goal coming in a 9-1 defeat on 13 January.

They have managed to secure Pearce’s signature as part of a marketing campaign for Direct Line, but his experience may not be enough to turn around the fortunes of a team with a goal difference of minus 180, especially given his lack of pace and athleticism!

Pearce said he, “Jumped at the chance” to join the amateur club, citing the fact that “Grassroots is essential to the lifeblood of the game”.

 

Children give their opinion on Adele

adele_kids

Adele’s 25 has been breaking records ever since it was released in November, but what do children think about the British songstress?

Luckily the YouTube channel Fine Brothers have the answers.  They gathered a group of children and played them “Hello” and 21 favourite “Rolling in the Deep.”

[youtube id=”0RLU7hfgP8w” width=”580″ height=”337″]

The seven minute video is full of amusing impressions and comments, with some saying she is perfect while others say they prefer hip hop. One just asks: “What does this all represent?”

Sally Phillips on parenting a child with additional needs in church

Sally PhillipsRuth Jackson from Childrenswork Magazine has done a great interview with actress Sally Philips on parenting a child with additional needs in church.  Sally and her husband have three sons and Olly, their eldest (aged 11) has Down’s syndrome.

RJ: Not every church has the necessary resources and manpower to serve children with special educational needs (SEN). Do you have any advice for churches and children’s workers?

SP: Good will is a good start but it’s often not enough. Generally, children’s workers are not prepared enough and the activities not differentiated enough so that kids with SEN can access them. There’s also a lack of volunteers. In school, Olly has one-to-one support. In church, he doesn’t, even though he still needs it. In school, his lessons are adapted, in church, he has to do the same as the others. If you prepare the lesson with multi-sensory options, all of the children will benefit, as there are many typically developing kids who prefer different ways of learning.

Incidentally, more traditional forms of church are much easier for SEN adults to access than ‘as the Spirit leads’ churches. The ritual and physicalisation of worship and prayer, the prayer book that they can follow, the same pattern every week, the weekly Eucharist etc are very helpful for people whose primary mode of communication may not be verbal.

Sally goes on to give some really helpful practical ideas that churches can use to be more inclusive to children with additional needs – it’s well worth taking the time to read this.

Reflections on nearly 40 years of ministry

Sam Storms, the lead pastor for preaching and vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, has written a fascinating blog post reflecting on nearly 40 years of pastoral ministry.

I’m not sure I full subscribe to everything he has written – for example I would fully subscribe to women being fully involved in church leadership.  But there’s a lot of gold in this article – a few highlights that resonated for me:

1. I wish I’d known that people who disagree with me on doctrines I hold dearly can often love God and pursue his glory with as much, and in some cases more, fervency than I do. The sort of intellectual pride that fuels such delusions can be devastating to ministry and will invariably undermine any efforts at broader Christian unity across denominational lines.

3. I wish I’d known how deeply and incessantly many (most?) people suffer. Having been raised in a truly functional family in which everyone knew Christ and loved one another, I was largely oblivious to the pain endured by most people who’ve never known that blessing. For too many years I naively assumed that if I wasn’t hurting, neither were they. I wish I’d realized the pulpit isn’t a place to hide from the problems and pain of one’s congregation; it’s a place to address, commiserate with, and apply God’s Word to them.

6. I wish I’d known how vital it is to understand yourself and to be both realistic and humble regarding what you find. Don’t be afraid to be an introvert or extrovert (or some mix of the two). Be willing to take steps to compensate for your weaknesses by surrounding yourself with people unlike you, who make up for your deficiencies and challenge you in healthy ways to be honest about what you can and cannot do.

10. I wish I’d known about the destructive effects of insecurity in a pastor. This is less because I’ve struggled with it and more due to its effect I’ve seen in others. Why is insecurity so damaging?

 

New Lead Bishop on Safeguarding

Peter Hancock, the Bishop of Bath and WellsThe Church of England has announced that the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, is to be the Church’s new lead Bishop on Safeguarding.

He will succeed the Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, who has carried out the role for the last six years.

Bishop Peter will take up the role after the meeting of the General Synod in July of this year.

Bishop Paul said:

“It has been a deep privilege to lead this work in the Church over the past six years during a time of transformation. The Church of England is making significant strides in its policies, training and resourcing of safeguarding and whilst we can never be complacent I am grateful for the work that has begun. We have a long way to go and there is still much more to be done.

“I am delighted that Bishop Peter will be leading the Church’s work in this area from the summer. I remain committed to working towards us being a safer church and ensuring the Church of England is a place of safety and welcome for all.”

Jurgen Klopp broke his glasses while celebrating Liverpool’s dramatic win

Jurgen Klopp - GettyImages-506408902.0

During the celebrations of Adam Lallana’s dramatic match-winning goal capping off a ridiculous 5-4 match, Jurgen Klopp broke his glasses. The Liverpool boss stormed the celebration pile with no regard for his own safety.

The ultimate office makeover

I absolutely love this!

When we returned to work after New Year we had an email from our boss containing one simple task: do something to decorate our desks to help the team get over the January blues.

Being the creative team, we decided we needed to do something special. So we decided to build a giant cardboard castle in the office.

Castle office

In the end, construction took around seven hours, with planning and prep taking a further two hours. We were tired but it was all worth it when we saw our colleagues’ faces the next morning

Castle office 1

Go check out their blog at Viking-Direct to see more images.  I am now thinking what on earth could we do in our office at the church!

Church of England Communications Update – February 2016

InReview

InReview - Feb 2016February’s edition of InReview, including details about the Archbishop of Yorks’ Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing, Baptism Matters conferences and more, is available here.

InFocus

InFocus - Feb 2016February’s edition of InFocus, including the new Lent study guide from Paula Gooder, Renewal and Reform and more, is available here (a 4-page version is available here).

Assembly: Tolerance

This was the assembly I gave this morning at one of our local Junior schools, on the theme of tolerance:

The past few hundred years have been marked by ethnic and racial conflict, as the Holocaust, the Rwanda genocide and the ongoing war in Syria demonstrate. There have also been individuals who have stood above the hatred and violence, however, and called for peace and cooperation. One of the most famous fighters for peace was Rev. Dr Martin Luther King.

Can you imagine a time when black people were only allowed to sit on certain seats at the back of a bus? When black people were not allowed to vote in elections? Can you imagine a town where black and white children had to attend separate schools? Where black and white young people were separated at dances by a line down the middle of the room?

Sixty years ago, in the southern states in America, this was how it was. Let’s hear about three ordinary people who had the courage to speak out.

An ordinary clergyman, with a minister for a father and a teacher for a mother, organized peaceful protests and boycotts against discrimination. Here was an ordinary black man who spoke out against the injustice that he saw. This ordinary black man delivered extraordinary speeches with memorable lines like ‘I have a dream that one day down in Alabama … little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.’

This man was Martin Luther King, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1964, assassinated in 1968, at just 39 years old.

In the town of Montgomery, like most places in the deep south, buses were segregated. On 1 December 1955, Rosa Parks left Montgomery Fair, the department store where she worked, and got on the same bus as she did every night. As always, she sat in the ‘black section’ at the back of the bus. However, when the bus became full, the driver instructed Rosa to give up her seat to a white person. When she refused, she was arrested by the police.

In protest against bus segregation, it was decided that from 5 December, black people in Montgomery would refuse to use the buses until passengers were completely integrated. For 382 days, the 17,000 black people in Montgomery walked to work. Eventually, the loss of revenue and a decision by the Supreme Court forced the Montgomery Bus Company to accept integration.

An ordinary woman showed extraordinary courage. This ordinary woman became known as the ‘Mother of the Civil Rights Movement’.

On 28 August 1963, two to three hundred thousand Americans converged on Washington DC. This was the ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom’. The organizers had many aims, but what unified the march was a call for greater freedoms for African-Americans. The date chosen for the march fell on the one-hundredth anniversary of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery in the United States of America. Racial inequality was still rampant, however, and African-Americans were treated as second-class citizens in many states.

President Kennedy was attempting to pass the Civil Rights Act at the time, which would provide greater freedoms for African-Americans. While many marched as a show of support for the President, others marched to criticize the Act for not going far enough.

Dr King was tasked with giving the final speech and he captured both the anger and the optimism of the march. ‘America has given the Negro people a bad cheque’, he said, referring to the centuries of slavery and racial injustice, but ‘we’ve come to cash this cheque’ by marching together. The civil rights leaders had come together to the nation’s capital to demand a fair deal for all.

Yet it is the ‘I have a dream  . . .’ segment of his speech that has passed into history. Dr King called not for acts of revenge against oppressors but understanding and cooperation. The most famous line of the speech – ‘I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!’ – carries a promise of peace, reconciliation and an end to racial conflict.

Those two examples are completely true. This one is not. It is taken from the 2007 hit movie Hairspray. It’s Baltimore, 1962, and Tracy Turnblad, an ordinary young girl, is obsessed with the Corny Collins Show. Tracy auditions for the show and gets to appear – a dream come true! However, she becomes aware of the way that her black dancer friends are being treated and realizes that she has to do something. As she tells her father, ‘I think I’ve kind of been in a bubble … thinking that fairness was gonna just happen. It’s not. People like me are gonna have to get up off their fathers’ laps and go out and fight for it.’ This ordinary young girl brings about an extraordinary integration.

This, too, was the power of Mahatma Gandhi – the humble little man in peasant’s clothes who, armed only with the weapons of love, peace and justice, brought the mighty British Empire to its knees. Gandhi believed passionately that if his cause was a just one he would win – no matter how powerful the forces against him. He famously said: ‘Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.’ Gandhi was ‘one man come in the name of love’.

At the heart of the Christian faith there is also ‘one man come in the name of love’. Jesus enters Jerusalem knowing that it is there that he will come into conflict with the might of the Roman Empire and face the fury of the Jewish religious establishment. And so he comes armed – armed with the weapons of love, forgiveness and peace – and he comes riding the humble donkey.

Into a world of division and barbarism and violence – a world, in other words, not unlike our own – comes the Prince of Peace, whose power lies not in military might but in selfless love. And here’s the thing: his kingdom, established by the power of love, rather than bullets, has lasted far longer and been far more influential than the kingdom of any military conqueror?

Time for reflection

What are you and I prepared to do in the name of love?
Do we have even a fraction of the courage of the Tank Man
or Rosa Parks
or Martin Luther King
or Gandhi?
Can we walk with Jesus on the way of the cross?

In the face of a world of greed, violence and oppression;
here at school in the face of the bully and the aggressor
or in the face of those who simply do not care –
what will you and I do in the name of love?
Prayer
Lord,
give us vision that we may see a better world,
and give us courage that we may act to make it happen.
Amen.

It’s never too late

College Graduate Dream

I love this!  Too often in the 21st century we think dreams are time limited.  This photo is a challenge to show us it’s never too late to make your dreams come true.  This sign was spotted at the 2015 Virginia Commonwealth University commencement ceremonies.  A comment from classmate Ryan Blevins on the picture at Unilad magazine tells us more.

His name is Tap Kieu, he’s a Vietnamese man who left his country during a time of persecution wearing only one shoe. After a long life building for his family, he wanted to go back and do this for himself. His lifelong dream was to be a choral director, so he studied music and made his dream come true. Go Tap, VCU Music class of 2015!

This man is amazing!