THIS church year ,which runs from September like the academic year, the Methodist church has as its theme “Testimony”. This has been chosen by this year’s president and vice-president, the aim is for us to share how we came to be Christians, in the hope that this will encourage others. In a way it’s a throwback to the early days of Methodism when at the start of every service people from the congregation would be invited to give their testimony.

We, Christians and non-Christians alike, are used to the idea of Testimony being given in court, either spoken or written, as being a witness to the truth and this has been transferred to matters of faith and belief. The root of the word is the Latin , “Testis” meaning witness.

So we Methodists are encouraged to tell our story. Story can be a very powerful tool in influencing others. I’m not going to tell my faith story as such, or not today. Instead I’m going to tell you about a journey I made last week and the stories they tell about other people’s faith journeys.

Last Thursday I travelled to Winchester to attend the thanksgiving service for a man called Ted Ashley. He had been a local preacher in the Methodist church for over 50 years and had served the church and his local community in many other roles. Despite a very serious illness some years ago and now getting on he was still volunteering when no-one else came forward.

I first met him when I came to Winchester as a Local preacher “on Trial” in 1985 and when other people found fault [doubtless for my own good !],Ted always managed to make the point in a very positive and encouraging way.

I wished I had told him of the encouragement he gave me…..I shall try to make a point in future of giving more feedback before it is too late, a different form of testimony.

On the way home I swerved to avoid a cyclist, who wobbled in front of me, and managed to clip the raised edge of a bollard with my front tyre.[Quite why it was necessary on a country road ?]. As I entered the village of Hursley, various alarms came on and I heard a funny noise. I pulled over and parked on the cross hatchings outside The King’s Head. [an obvious place for a Methodist minister to park …..] I was about to phone Green Flag for assistance, when a young man asked if I had a spare and offered to change it for me. He would accept no money, not even for a drink …. A true Samaritan in coming to my rescue. I did thank him profusely and who knows maybe he will get to hear this testimony?

Rosemary A.Baker