Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the second Open Meeting of the season and welcomed the lady guests in attendance. He advised that nine apologies had been received.

Under ” Initial Notices” the Chairman confirmed Ray Snowden’s funeral arrangements which would be on Thursday February 1st at 11.15 a.m. in the Wesley Chapel followed by a private cremation.

Today, as well as an Open Meeting, was President’s Morning and the Reverend Christine Gillespie was given a warm welcome.

Reverend Christine’s talk focussed on a short visit she had made to Sierra Leone in 2011 in an official representative capacity to celebrate the bicentenary anniversary of the Methodist Church involvement in that country. The Methodist Church in Sierra Leone had its roots in groups of freed slaves who arrived from 1792 from England and Nova Scotia (1,190) and indeed the capital of Sierra Leone is Freetown. The group started to organise into a church but had to appeal for help from Britain. This resulted in the sending of the first Wesleyan missionary in 1811, the Reverend George Warren with three others, and it was this event and their support that were being celebrated.

Although only in the country a short time the Reverend Christine gave us a flavour of the country and in particular the capital Freetown, it being a poor country, hot and humid with a need to drink plenty of liquid and with water being sold in plastic bags!! The Sierra Leone civil war was mentioned and related to her visit to the Freetown Peace Museum. The University was also visited and this was the site of the last battle in the civil war which was interestingly ended by a certain Tony Blair sending in troops and he is a highly regarded person in this country. Limited sightseeing opportunities were afforded but visits along the coast were made and the sight of young children at work breaking rocks on a mountainside gave pause for thought.

The Reverend Christine shared these highlights of her trip:

— a conversation with the night-watchman at the Maroon Church.

— the official celebration dinner for the bicentenary and observing an american auction.

— leading communion and the outstanding singing of the church choir and congregation.

The talk concluded with a number of questions and answers.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Frank Ellis on behalf of the thirty-five member attendees and the six lady guests.



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