Welcome to Chair of District 2019

Rev Ruth Gee, Rev Dr James Tebbutt & the Rev Lord Leslie Griffiths

The Welcome Service for the new District Chair for Cumbria, the Rev Dr James N Tebbutt, was held at Penrith Methodist Church on Saturday 31st August 2019.

The Service was led by the Assistant Secretary of Conference, the Rev Ruth Gee. The service brought together Methodists from all over the District and an enthusiastic congregation joined harmoniously with Civic Leaders, the Ecumenical partners in Cumbria and the Chairs of the North West and Mann region, for a service of worship which was led by the Rev Michael Cannon on the organ. The opening hymn was STF 357 ‘’Jesus, the name high over all’.

The readings were from Isaiah 52:3-12, read by Rev Sarah Moore, the URC President in Cumbria; Psalm 121 by Deacon Mel Beaven; 2 Corinthians 11:21-29 read by the Mayor of Penrith, Councillor D Lawson; and the Gospel of Matthew 20:29-34 was read by the Bishop of Penrith, the Rt Rev Dr Emma Ineson, interlaced with verses from the hymn ‘Come divine interpreter’.

The preacher was the Rev Lord Leslie Griffiths who has known James “since he was naught but a lad!”. The sermon was inspiring, a robust challenge to the new Chair, the District and to Methodism to preach the Gospel. Taking each of the readings in turn, the Rev Lord Leslie Griffiths charged the new Chair that, firstly, have a God who doesn’t change; secondly, we are called to be preachers who remind us that we are not slaves but free; thirdly, to remember the costliness of leadership, so that we are called to a courageous ministry; and fourthly; we are to preach God’s word with compassion – remembering the Greek word ‘splagxnon’ – Jesus felt the pain of suffering in His gut!

Finally, he invited James not to follow cultural fashion, always to do the right thing, and to remember love, embracing the other and offering hope.

After the presentation and promises, the Ecumenical Officer for the Cumbria District, the Rev Nicola Reynolds, read out the CPEA covenant, followed by Deacon George Bissett (RC), who read the Letter of Companionship, reminding us of the special ecumenical work in the county of ‘God for All’.

The new District Chair, James, his wife the Rev Dr Nicola Price–Tebbutt (the Secretary of the Connexional  Faith & Order Committee), and their daughter, were welcomed warmly by the following Civic, Ecumenical and District officers, who offered a warm welcome and spoke of companionship on the journey ahead:

The High Sheriff of Cumbria – Ms Marcia Reid Fotheringham

The Right Worshipful Mayor of Carlisle – Mrs Marilyn Bowman

The President of the URC in Cumbria – Rev Sarah Moore

The Bishop of Carlisle – Rt Rev James Newcome

Eden District Council Chairman – Councillor Andy Connell

Chair of the Lancashire District – Rev Paul Davis on behalf of the North West & Mann region

Cumbria Deputy District Chair – Rev Jennet McLeod

Lay representative for Cumbria – Mr Richard North

The new Chair James replied with his own thanks and excitement to take up the post, and an encouragement to the District to be both Methodist and ecumenical: to be willing with humility to give and receive in working with others in response to the God who loves all.

Following the Prayers of Intercession and the sharing of the Peace, the Rev Ruth Gee presided at communion, and the Rev Ruth Gee and the Rev Lord Leslie Griffiths distributed to James, family and friends, and to the guests and congregation.

The service finished with a rousing rendition of ‘Ye Servants of God’ (STF 340), placing God in Christ at the centre of this Welcome service.

After the service the congregation and guests had time to meet the new Chair and family over refreshments.

Let us pray for God’s blessing and guidance for the Christian churches and all people in Cumbria in Jesus’ name, that we may be filled with the Holy Spirit and live to God’s glory.  Amen.

Rev Stephen Radford | Synod Secretary