From Bryan Coates May 2022

Dear friends

Would you buy a bottle of hair restorer from a bald-headed salesman?  It is a question asked by the Rev’d Dr Colin Morris in one of his many books.  Colin served not only as President of the Methodist Conference but also as the first President of the United Church of Zambia.  That office was one part of his outstanding ministry in central Africa where he was variously described, like Archbishop Thomas Becket, as a ‘turbulent priest’ or, quoting The Wisdom of Solomon, a ‘spark in the stubble’ because of his outspoken advocacy of the rights of the indigenous population.  Colin was also an eloquent preacher, a prolific writer – a true wordsmith.  I see the question as a forceful variant on the subject of practising what we preach.

As we publish the Preaching Plan for the Summer Quarter you will see that, as well as sharing Worship with members of the Anglican Churches at Pitton, Sandleheath and Woodfalls, for this coming Quarter, at least, we will share Worship with members of the Fordinbridge United Reformed Church.   There is a different background and pattern in each of these four places, but the result of conversation, planning and prayer is that congregations coming from different traditions are growing in trust and fellowship and moving together. In our other churches too, we work in quiet and undemonstrative ways to develop relationships and move closer to our ecumenical partners.

I see that as far, far more than just a pragmatic solution to some of the problems we face as a Church; it is, for me, a matter of principle. And of God’s purpose for His Church!

I cannot read that part of the prayer of Jesus from his last Thursday evening with his friends in Jerusalem – as recorded by John, where with his disciples in mind he asks “Father!..May they be one, so that the world will believe…” John 17 v21, without being troubled about our failings as the Church over the centuries.

I really hope and pray that the steps we are taking will be signs to the world of genuine Christian love and care for one another and that through them our message of God’s love will ring true.



Bryan Coates, Acting Superintendent Minister.