Treasure or tat?
I was not a great student of history at school, giving it up at the earliest opportunity. Only fairly recently have I come to understand that history is not about learning dates but about trying to interpret the various accounts of the past to discover where we have come from (which might help us discern where we are going).
Yesterday I spent the morning at the second of two days organised by Methodist Heritage to bring together some of the heritage enthusiasts around the Connexion. I had been asked to speak on “Heritage and Pilgrimage” to start the day off, which I was glad to do. The first day was in York a few weeks ago, yesterday we were in Salisbury, in a most beautiful Methodist Church, on a gloriously sunny day. Around 35 folk had gathered and I noted with interest that it was one of the few Methodist functions I have attended where the men outnumbered the women (just). Most of those present had some sort of archiving/heritage role in their local church, circuit or district and it was fascinating to find out what goes on behind the scenes.
One workshop helped us to distinguish between “treasure” and “tat”… helpful for anyone who has ever opened a cupboard at church and shut it again in horror and despair. I think my favourite idea was “upcycling” old Methodist hymn books to make keyrings and ornaments. Maybe more on this another day if I manage to do any!
It was certainly a fascinating and eclectic collection of people, and during coffee, after my presentation, I was engaged in some curious conversations; someone had misheard a town I referred to but wanted to tell me all about the place I hadn’t mentioned, someone else thanked me for wearing a spotty scarf (because of the link with Children in Need) and someone else was convinced that they had already seen a photo from my presentation, taken some years ago on my 50th birthday and showing members of my family making a sort of emotional pilgrimage round the village where I grew up… I couldn’t see how he could possibly have seen the photo before, but here it is anyway – now well and truly in the public domain!
Of course Salisbury is quite a long way from Glasgow, so I travelled down on Friday and was able to stay with my good friends Alison and Les near Southampton – so much catching up to do as I heard more about the World Assembly of the WFMUCW of which Alison was elected as World President in August. She will serve in that role for 5 years – we are very proud of her and hold her in prayer as she takes on this role. Alison accompanied me to the Heritage Day and also came to the “treasure and tat” workshop, knowing she too might have to make some decisions about what to keep and what to discard as the Federation moves forward.
Today became a day to look through my own archives and find a service suitable to lead, as I received a phone call at 6:45am to ask me to cover for a preacher who had been taken ill in the night. Whether the sermon I found was treasure or tat I leave for others to judge, but I was glad I hadn’t thrown it out!