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Calderdale Methodist Circuit : Michael Appleyard

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Many years ago I was born at Castleford where there is the confluence of the Aire and Calder rivers and apart from eighteen years in Africa my ministry has been in the valleys of these two rivers.

The years overseas were due to service with the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia when I first went) and after working in both

English and vernacular speaking circuits I was appointed to the staff of Epworth Theological College which became fully ecumenical during my time there and later renamed the United Theological College.

My three sons were all born in Zimbabwe and are now happily married, each with two children and we enjoy visiting their homes, Martin and Helen in Abingdon. Andrew and Bianca in Southampton and less frequently Stephen and Pat in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

On returning to England I served in the Horsforth & Bramley and Keighley & Worth Valley Circuits. It was at Keighley where my first wife, Margaret, died – just a month after the birth of our first grandchild. Two years later I was able to spend a sabbatical in Zimbabwe at the College – accommodation in return for lectures and tutorials – and during that time the Methodist Church also celebrated its centenary. It was good to meet many former students, now ministers. It was also in Keighley that Eileen, a colleague in the circuit, and I were married, the Revd Kathleen Richardson officiating.

We both went to Huddersfield Circuits and after five years there became supernumeraries and moved to Brighouse.

While here Eileen and I initiated a Traidcraft stall, which we managed for ten years, fair trade and trade justice issues being shared concerns. I have also been a Local Preacher's Tutor, the Brighouse representative for Christian Aid and a member of the Huddersfield branch of Amnesty International.

I try to keep up with theological and biblical studies and in particular commend recent works concerning Jesus and Paul by Neil Richardson and Tom Wright (British) and the Americans Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. All offer new insights and suggest how we can look at issues in the contemporary world from different perspectives. I have also learned much from our forebears from what can be called Celtic Christianity, particularly with regard to spirituality.

Other interests include travel, exploring early Christian sites, especially where there are Celtic crosses (I have a collection of replicas) and enjoy the detective stories of Peter Tremayne (the pen name of the Celtic scholar Peter Berresford Ellis) whose novels are set in seventh Century Ireland with Sister Fidelma as detective.

Philately (posh name for stamp collecting) is also a hobby and I support my hometown rugby Super League club, Castleford Tigers who nearly made it to Wembley earlier this year.