Different faces of rural England are marked strikingly by this little stretch of road known as Chapel Street in Market Rasen, The central feature, alongside the trees, is the impressive Methodist Chapel (a witness both to the continuing powerfully transformative faith of John Wesley (here in Wesley's own county and so far beyond), and to the temptations of renewing movements of living Christianity to risk becoming somewhat 'respectable' and just 'another Church'). I used to fold and staple the Methodist Circuit magazine for distribution when I was a child - I guess, thinking back, that was my first significant ecumenical ministry?! A little unusually, the war memorial stands by the Chapel not the (Anglican) Church - a symbol perhaps of the strength of Methodism in the hearts of so many people.
It is so lovely to see the old Liberal Club again too - built in 1908 during the time of Britains's first great reforming government - a reminder of how British Liberalism (such a different thing from Australian forms) was, and still partly remains, the carrier of rural radicalism (land, people and liberty). The physical connection with nonconformist religion is so very striking here
Meanwhile, the station entrance is a reminder of the great changes brought to this place and its land by the modern age - and a gateway to wider freedom and new and different worlds for some (of us) #landandplacescarryinghistory #ourlittletiown
Dare to be indeed. The first time I heard Jack Spong speak was in October 1992 in Methodist Central Hall in London - at the launch of Elizabeth Stuart's then highly controversial landmark LGBT+ prayer book 'Daring to Speak Love's Name: A Gay and Lesbian Prayer Book'. They were historic and testing times. Two weeks later, after our long struggles, the Church of England would finally vote for women's ordination but opposition to queer people was so much more intense. I'd traveled down from Gateshead in England's north east for the occasion, and was one of 300 or so queer people and allies who shared in what was a powerful and moving show of solidarity titled ''Prayer, Protest, Politics: A Celebration of Who We Are and Our Relationships.'' The evening featured an informal blessing of queer relationships, prayers and recitation of a ''Declaration of Coming Out,'' as we danced, cried and hugged together. Helped not least by negative remarks by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, SPCK, the intended publisher, had pulled the plug on the book. Thankfully however, Hamish Hamilton Ltd (part of Penguin) stepped in at the last minute and the book thus defiantly and joyfully came to birth (more on the story here). Whilst other Church leaders ran from the fray, or hid behind kindly but insufficent words, Bishop Spong stood on the stage that evening and shared his own commitment as true ally. Those kinds of actions matter. I'm grateful to him for many other ways in which he helped set people free from fears into new life. As much as as his words, such actions however really stay with me. In his death, as in his life, he continues to ask us, where are you when life and history is to be made and shown? Dare we continue to speak love's name when and where it is needed? #deedsnotwordsalone
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.