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I do not get excited about church business meetings. I’ve even arranged my next sabbatical, rather like my last one, so that I miss two Synods. God so loved the world that he didn’t send a committee, etc. – that’s my feeling.

But last night I had an encouraging Church Council. We’ve recently had a review of our circuit and all its churches by a small team from our District. I hadn’t expected much from the process. Oh me of little faith, as it turned out.

So our main business yesterday evening was to discuss five recommendations the District team had made for this particular church. They weren’t all appropriate to us, because in some cases the team didn’t have exhaustive information on the church, and their Maths became the ‘two plus two is five’ variety. In other areas, their recommendations needed filing away until a later date.

But … what excited me was the way we riffed on one theme and created something new. We began from talking about how we might have more contact with those who hire our premises, but we got onto the question of children. We have several different ways of connecting with children – Sunday School, Messy Church, Craft Club, Holiday Club, Boys’ Brigade, school assemblies. But we realised that just putting on something for children is aiming at a soft target. (Sorry, that’s a lousy metaphor, but it’s the best I can think of.) However, if we are to be truly family friendly we need to offer resources and outreach for all generations.

So the Council grabbed an idea I’d first floated rather quickly a couple of years ago. We need to operate things like parenting courses to the local community, and do so on neutral territory such as the community centre or a pub function room. In fact, they developed the idea further: not just parenting, but marriage courses and bereavement sessions. We thought we might be able to offer one of these courses a year. It doesn’t matter that we’re a small church: we can work with those whom God has given us, as opposed to pining for those we don’t have.

Hence, I’d be interested if anyone reading this blog has positive or negative experience of particular resources or courses. A quick surf has found the following:

Parenting The Parentalk Parenting course; 21st Century Parent from CARE for the Family; a course from the Family Caring Trust.

Marriage The Marriage Course and The Marriage Preparation Course from Holy Trinity Brompton; 21st Century Marriage from CARE for the Family.

Bereavement Harder to track down Christian courses. The only one I found with a Christian basis was one run at Holy Trinity Brompton, The Bereavement Course, but it isn’t a package you can buy and run yourself. It’s just something they run at HTB.

These are just my initial quick trawl. I’d be delighted to hear whatever comments you have about positive or negative experiences or impressions of different courses

UPDATE, SUNDAY 19TH OCTOBER: I also put this request on the Family Friendly Churches’ Trust email discussion group. Two people have spoken highly of the CARE for the Family courses, and mentioned one or two others of theirs about which I didn’t know. One person has suggested debt counselling or money management courses. I have heard good things about Christians Against Poverty’s CAP Money Course.


Mum does not have lung cancer. I heard that a few minutes ago from my sister, who is at the hospital with her today. The consultant visited her in the recovery suite after this morning’s surgery to say that the lesion he removed was not cancerous. This is an astonishing piece of news, given that he had written to the GP and another consultant, saying he was fairly sure that not only was it lung cancer, but a specific type in particular.

As yet, we do not know exactly what the diagnosis is. For that, we await the next ward round, either this evening or tomorrow morning. Next suspect on the list was TB, followed by a list of obscure conditions.

My sister and I had so prepared ourselves for bad news, that Wednesday’s results (no secondaries) and today’s are astounding. Much as I believe in the healing ministry, I have hardly dared pray for healing. Terrible confession, I know, but true. There is no way I wish my dear mother dead, but knowing she is seventy-eight, I had begun to prepare myself some time ago for the thought that one day bad news will come and it will be the beginning of the end, and I would then have to wait for the outworking of our Christian hope to see again. My faith has risen since Wednesday’s news, but this is amazing.

The feeling of relief is almost indescribable, except to say that in my case it is so strong it has left me feeling weak and dizzy. Somehow, in the next few minutes I have to cook dinner for the children and then go out to give a Boys’ Brigade devotional. I’m not sure my mind will quite be on the job – in the nicest possible way!

Thank you to everyone who has prayed. Of course, the family wouldn’t turn down more prayers …