Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Hope Community Church.

Before I switched to the back row, I played my rugby as a flying winger (actually more of a brutal charger) - and won Shrewsbury RUFC's cup for most tries in a season twice. But no matter how spectacular the try, I never celebrated - just jogged back quietly to my kick-of position. Took the same approach when I was elected an MP in a pretty spectacular result last May. Banned all ostentatious celebration. Never liked putting my inner feelings on show. I knew that my opponent and his supporters were distraught, and I wanted to show people how to win with dignity. Not sure it worked. Everyone just thought I was suffering from shock!! Anyway, its this sort of 'reserve' that makes worship at the Hope Community Church 'not for me'. And I'm too old to change now. Which is a pity, because it is such a hugely successful church which attracts hundreds of worshipers - and I've greatly enjoyed the two occasions that I've been to services there.

This morning, it was the Cllr. Joy Jones, the Mayor of Newtown's Civic Service. Must have been over 300 there. The first thing that struck me was the precision. The service started at 10.30 - on the dot. And the technology worked perfectly. Wouldn't have mattered if I'd forgotten my glasses because the words were up there on three big screens - working better than any autocue I've ever used. How does the Hope Church do it, when every conference I've ever been to has problems. The service began with 'How Great Thou Art', my absolute favorite hymn - though I usually sing it at funerals.

Really enjoyed the Message (sermon) by Pastor Alan Hewitt. Began by condemning (bit strong perhaps) 'aggressive secularism'. I absolutely agree. The airwaves over the last few days have been invaded by voices not content to live happily in their own atheism (to which I have no objection) but want to force it on everyone else. These 'voices' must be very disappointed that the Pope's visit went off so brilliantly - as did Joy's Civic Service in the Hope Community Church. Alan also brought Robert Owen into his 'message'. I applaud this as well. Robert Owen was one of the greatest social reformers that the world has ever known - and he lived the early part of his life in Newtown. I really should have included him in my Maiden Speech, particularly since the Scots are trying to claim some ownership rights over him. And Alan lauded Bishop William Morgan, who has become more of a Montgomeryshire man since the Tanat Valley was transferred to my constituency. He spent much of his life translating the Bible into Welsh, so that the people of Wales could read it.

And then the strangest of things happened. The whole event had been a bit odd, in that the entire congregation seemed to appreciate the work that elected people do. Anyone elected knows that criticism (often aggressive) usually goes with the job. Anyway, Pastor Alan Hewitt called me up to the front and prayed for me - so that I could make good decisions, and serve the people well. Tony Blair had the hand of history on his shoulder. Well I had the hand of Alan Hewitt on mine. For someone who finds ostentation a bit unnatural, it was quite an experience. All in all, today was rather a special day.


Ex-Trowbridge council house laddie said...

"Anyway, Pastor Alan Hewitt called me up to the front and prayed for me - so that I could make good decisions..."

Well, the Welsh economy needs good decisions - boy does it.

You may have heard that MIT is now at #3 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Scotland has four universities in the top 200 (Edinburgh (#40), St. Andrews (#103), Glasgow (#128), and Aberdeen (#149)). If memory serves this is an increase from three (Edinburgh, St. Andrews and Glasgow) in the last published rankings.

Wales has a BIG FAT ZERO.

I believe had issued patents been considered then CalTech or MIT would be in the #1 slot; as it is, CalTech was in the #2 slot.

There was a time when we heard the Deputy First Minister yabber on about world class Welsh universities.

The simple truth is, Welsh universities have gone backwards.

MIT has fewer students than Cardiff University and published a larger number of top rated papers than Cardiff, and has FAR more issued patents than Cardiff.

How is this so when “Simon Gibson – the chief executive of private high-technology investment fund Wesley Clover – concluded some time ago that higher education (in Wales) was sitting on an untapped “gold mine” of IP which could be commercialized”; quote from a Sion Barry Western Mail Sep 26 2007 article.

The buck stops at the door of Ieuan Wyn Jones (Minister for the Economy and Transport).

Despite all his spin, IWJ has FAILED to tap Wales' #1 asset, the "gold mine of IP which could be commercialised".

Anonymous said...

I must disagree, aggresive secularism has never been as dangerous as aggresive faith. Good people do good things, evil people do evil things, but religion allows good people to do evil things.

However, excuse the pun, but religion is a broad church and I have heard good things about the Hope Church and the local work they do in Newtown and the area. All power to their collective elbows. They certainly seem influential in conservative circles.

In my view to be a truly religious person should be a good, kindly charitable person as well having faith in a supernatural being / force. You can be a good person without faith though. Personally, I'm a Hawking/Dawkins devotee.

Anonymous said...

It sounds a lively Church and I'm sure it does good work for the community and brings joy and comfort to its members.

However, a quick look at the Assembly of God's website (to which the Church is affiliated) shows it has a highly conservative outlook in regards to gay rights, women and other issues.

There's nothing wrong with that but it's not being "aggresively secular" to disagree with them.

They hold minority views which should be respected but they shouldn't expect any special treatment because of their supernatural belief system.

It seems to me that it's the religious minority who are aggresive in trying to dictate the mores of a secular society while wallowing in a fake sense of "victimhood".

Nothing to do with this Church, but it was the children who were victims in the the "pedophile priest" scandals not the priests or their pope.

No offence intended to you, the church or its members.