Sunday, January 30, 2011

Heard Tony Campolo speak in London

So I got the opportunity to hear Tony Campolo speak in London on Friday night (28 January 2011).  He was one of a couple of speakers for the speak network.  Very incredible speaker.  He has so much passion for life and for what he believes in.  One of which is supporting "speak."  It's a group made primarily out of mid-20s/30s who are concerned with issues of peace/justice.  I've been on their mailing list for a while, but typically have other work engagements whenever they've got events going on, so this was the first I was able to attend.  Tony gave a couple of stories from his experiences in life regarding mainly "doing what you can" in an effort to raise some money for speak.  We (the crowd) even got him to keep talking after he sat down for about the amount of time he spoke to being with...he's just got a lot of passion.

Speak is a group that has a lot of passion for what it does, but not the resources.  Sounds a bit like my life right now...  A group I'd like to get involved with, but don't know for sure whether anything will pan out due to my own work/life restrictions.

If you haven't heard Tony speak before and he's coming to an area near you - go to see him, he's well worth the trip.  This guy had an incredible itinerary before speaking with us in London...over the previous 2 weeks he was on the west coast for 3 days, then the east coast for another couple of days, back to the west coast, then back to the east coast, then to the UK - day in Ireland, N.Ireland, Scotland, Wales, then London, then back to the east coast... you get the idea - constant travel, no time for adjustment... incredible to do what he does (and at his age - 75).

Busy week coming up as we have a course starting in 1 week's time, lots to do.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Summary of Details from latest LMC Newsletter

A summary of details from a London Mennonite Centre Newsletter which was sent out in January of 2011.  If you would like the PDF copy of it, just contact me and I will e-mail it to you.  I can't post it easily here -not even the text only - I tried.

Letter is from - Jeremy Thompson, Chair of the London Mennonite Trust

Sale of the LMC was completed in December of 2010 for a sum of £3,250,000.  The agreement is for up to nine months until completion.

Bridge Builders (whom I work for), as a product of the London Mennonite Centre's ministry, is going to be granted a one time gift of £105,000 as it works toward becoming an independent Charity.   This should cover expenses incurred in the first two years of operation.  London Mennonite Trustees are still hoping for a possible co-location with Bridge Builders, dependent on an adequate future location, for both parties.

LMC Trustees would like to have a portion of the completed sale for use as an investment to bring in steady income for the future Centre.  They now have under £2,000,000 to work with, including renovation, for use to purchase a new Centre.

Trustees are also in the process of interviewing a possible North American candidate to become the future Director of the Centre.  This is an on-going process and will likely take up to a year from any accepted offers before the Director will arrive.

On a lighter and happier note, a longtime staff member of the Centre was married in November of 2010.

Do let me know if you would like a copy of the PDF.

- Sam

Monday, January 17, 2011


So I'm going to try and reboot my blog.  Basically I fell off the wagon in posting and now need to get back into it.  The last six months have been very busy and very much a roller-coaster so I won't attempt to bring everything up to date (beyond a summary), but rather start off on a new foot from today.  I'm going to try to post three different streams with each new post.  One related primarily to the work I do with Bridge Builders, one for my present "life," and one for my prayer requests.  First, a summary of the last 6 months or so...

Spring/summer 2010: 

I completed two additional Bridge Builders courses in June and July, the Church Leadership and Family Systems course, run by Richard Blackburn of the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center, and the Mediating Interpersonal Conflicts course run by Alastair, Colin, and Jo Williams (Director of BB, Assistant Director of BB, and associate trainer respectively).  I particularly enjoyed the course on family systems given the emphasis on looking at your family history through a genogram.  August was a rather quiet month work-wise since the Bridge Builders' office is more or less closed since Alastair and Colin were on holiday the whole month.

Over the spring/summer months I geared myself up for training for the Loch Ness Marathon, starting my training in mid-June.  It consisted of running *only* 3 days a week and cycling twice a week.  I really really really enjoy cycling in London.  It gives me such an adrenaline rush as well as being good cardio.  I also cycled to Brighton from London (and rode the train back) in a day with Will Newcomb, one of the other staff of the LMC.  Definitely a worthwhile experience.  I hadn't ever cycled more than about 30 miles in a single day and we did a total of 73-4 miles or something like that.

Autumn/early winter 2010:

In the autumn we ran two additional "foundation courses" (the week-long Transforming Church Conflict course), one in September, one in late October/early November in London and Cheshire, respectively.  The second course was followed by our "Training of Trainers" course, which I was a participant on last year, so my role this year was basically doing a lot of the prep work for the course, but letting Alastair and Colin get on with it since it was a very short course (3 day).

In the beginning of October I ran the Loch Ness Marathon in a time of 3 hours 27 minutes.  It really whipped me hard.  I was really really tired when I got done.  Basically I went out way way way too fast.  The general flow of the course was the first 8-9 miles being downhill, 10-16 being "undulating", 17-20 being uphill, and 21-26.2 being mostly downhill or flat.  Running down really really steep hills for the first 8-9 miles took a beating on my legs.  I screamed through the half point in under 1 hour 35 minutes, which was a personal record for a half marathon for me, but I still had another half to complete after that.  The next half started to go downhill (not literally yet) until after mile 16.  After mile 20 (the last hill) I was truly hurting.  My quads and calfs were starting to get "mini-cramps" so I periodically was trying to  stretch/loosen them out and trying to take in as much fluids as possible to postpone any further cramping. Overall, a beautiful marathon, but not one to shoot for a decent time on.  I still ran faster than my first marathon, which was on a flat course, by about 7 minutes, so I guess I have something to be proud of, even though I didn't finish the way I wanted.

In November I got the opportunity to go to Vermont and Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving due to the "Moyer grant" - a.k.a. Mom & Dad.  It was really a good trip where I got the chance to see many family and church friends.  It reminded me how long I've been gone and particularly how much some of my cousin's kids have grown.  Not seeing their kids (or them or their parents :-) ) more regularly is one of the drawbacks to being overseas.

Christmas this year consisted of multiple "family traditions" of those living or in close connection to the LMC.  Traditions included: making gingerbread houses, eating oyster stew, eating seafood quesadillas, and eating eggs benedict (my own family tradition which I altered by making half a batch as eggs benedict and the other half as eggs florentine - for 9 people).  Notice how all of our traditions revolved around food :-)

So far in 2011:   

Bridge Builders' has been very busy since the start of the year.  We've got two week-long foundation courses in early 2011, one in February in London, and one in March in Sheffield.   Although they are still a ways away, we've got a lot of prep work to do for each course, some of which is administrative, such as making course manuals, sending out a mailing, making sure people have paid, etc... and some of which is planning how we will do things differently on each course.  I've also got a lot of misc. projects going on at the moment, mostly in preparation for Bridge Builders' eventual separation from the LMC Trust to become an independent charity.

I've done a bit of planning for some holidays to take in 2011, including a trip to Rome in mid-February (17-21) and a half-marathon in the end of May in Plymouth, England (my home town's namesake).  I look forward to both, but still would like to fit in another trip somewhere between the end of March and the beginning of May.  Mulling over a few ideas, but nothing concrete yet.

I would ask for continued prayers for the London Mennonite Trustees as they work toward finding a new location for the LMC.  The Centre is now sold with completion of sale coming later in 2011.  There will be a "friends" letter from the Trustees *hopefully* by the end of January to update folks on it.  I'll try to remember to post the text of the letter here.  Until that time I can't give specifics on when the move will happen beyond that it will be after the springtime, but before 2011 ends.

I would also ask for prayers for myself as I ponder my future and what I might consider doing.  In my mind, I need to have figured out whether I want to pursue graduate school by the end of May, in order to provide adequate time for any possible letters of reference for applications due in late 2011/early 2012 for a start in the autumn of 2012.