Thursday, June 27, 2013

Oxford Day 6-A real crapper! Some Wesley, a Bunyon and a little Investment talk about the multi-national church

We begin this blog with an authenticated reality. A toilet is called a "crapper" because in Victorian England, the Crapper family made toilets. Let any of you who ever got made at someone for calling a toilet a crapper be ashamed...

That said, I found said toilet in the basement of the Wesley House and Foundry Chapel building. Here we learned more about the founder of Methodism, Rev. John Wesley and his work as an Organizational Leader of a community. Wesley, an ordained Church of England pastor, worked to reform his church and organized a system of discipleship built around small group gatherings focused on preaching the Gospel and sharing together in ministry. Banned from many pulpits, he went outside into the streets and the gardens to proclaim God's grace. Ultimately building (at age 65) the Foundry Chapel building. In this building was the pulpit below. Which I was privileged to stand in today. Behind me is a picture of George Whitefield, a fiery preacher of the era who Wesley both loved and parted ways with eventually due to doctrinal differences.

Below is a picture of Wesleys "prayer closet". Lest we ever forget the importance of prayer in the life of leaders, Wesley is a good reminder. While I do not plan to emulate his 4am wake-up for an hour of devotional time (I would be asleep in 4 minutes) I do admire his dedication and the importance of prayer in the life of a leader. This room, a small closet, was called the "Powerhouse" of the Methodist Movement.
We went quickly across the street and found the grave of John Bunyon (of Pilgrim's Progress fame). More on him tomorrow.
After visiting Wesley House we went over to the British Library. Where I got to see a Gutenberg Bible, the Codex Sinaiticus and also an interesting exhibit on Propaganda. Fascinating stuff on how the printed word and visual word have been used to move people and nations. Below is a copy of a printing press. Interestingly, they placed the Gutenberg Bible in a case with a copy of a printed Indulgence above it. While the Gutenberg press enabled Luther to more quickly share his pamphlets and writings, it also simplified the production of the Indulgences he railed against. Technology works both ways.
After the Library we adjourned for an afternoon meeting with the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church of the UK. This board is responsible for managing 1.25Billion Pounds of resources entrusted to ministries of the Methodist Church in the UK. These are congregational endowments and other resources that are pooled to be invested ethically and responsibly. We were privileged to have the ear of the CEO of this organization for over an hour to hear his understanding of stewardship and leadership of an organization that is committed to managing funds in a way that both honors God as well as earns a strong rate of return. It was inspiring and challenging to hear about the work that they are doing and their future challenges. To be faithful to Biblical principles of stewardship as well as to faithfully increasing the resources of the Church is a challenge. The most interesting line from the CEO was "The church is the only other multi-national than the corporations. It must claim its role there." Strong and challenging words given that so often I think we only think of the church as our little congregations.
After that time we departed London to come back to Oxford. On the way, for you Potter fans, we drove by King's Cross station. Home of platform 9 3/4's. Of course, you should note, that due to the success of the Potter films and the increase of tourism there. The facility is under construction and renovation and they actually didn't use Platform 9 and 10 for the filming. But then again, it is film right, it is all magic!

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