Julie Hulme: Biography

JulieJulie was a British writer and a member of the Methodist Church of Great Britain. Born in London in 1957, she was educated at a comprehensive school in North Wembley, at Harrow College of Further Education, Durham University (General Arts degree, 1979) and Wesley House, Cambridge, where she trained as a Methodist minister from 1991-1994.

From the age of ten, Julie defined herself as a writer and throughout her adult life she followed a call to live the Ministry of Word and Sacrament (which is how British Methodism defines its presbyteral ministry) as a life of prayer. This call was endorsed by the Methodist Church when she was accepted for training in 1991 and ordained in 1995.

Though primarily a contemplative, she was always open to the full breadth of experience in prayer, from charismatic worship (e.g. prayer for healing with the laying on of hands; "speaking in tongues" etc.) at one end of the spectrum to the complex lectionaries and ordered liturgies of the Benedictine tradition at the other.  

Julie's approach to prayer was always enquiring and explorative, asking basic questions such as "What works for me in prayer?" and "What doesn't?" and most important of all, "Why?" and "Why not?" During the 1980s and 1990s, it was her difficulties in praying and in sustaining the life of prayer to which she felt called that fuelled her research.   Finding little to read that satisfied her, she focused on paying attention to her own responses to prayer, to the Bible and to the world around her.

In 1998, an experience of "burn-out" prompted her to plan a radical change of direction and in 2000 she received permission from the Methodist Church to withdraw from normal circuit (pastoral) ministry so that she could focus on the life of prayer.   However, a series of experiences in 2001-2002, including two bereavements and several months' treatment for aggressive breast cancer, left her exhausted, vulnerable and unable to pray or write.  


Julie's approach to prayer was always enquiring and explorative, asking basic questions such as "What works for me in prayer?" and "What doesn't?" and most important of all, "Why?" and "Why not?"

 

Unable to draw any strength from conventional Christian spirituality, she began to explore forms of spirituality developing outside the Church, especially as these related to the building of confidence; how "everyday" faith empowers us; how such "everyday" faith is related to various aspects of contemporary culture and also to specific forms of faith such as faith in God; and how a greater understanding of "everyday" faith can revitalise Christian spirituality.   As before, her inquiry was rooted in asking basic questions such as "Does this work?" "Why does it work?" and "How does it work?". Again, her main method of research was to pay close attention to her own responses, explore the ideas in relation to the Bible and express what she was discovering in writing and, increasingly, in art. 

However, from 2003 onwards, she also tested out her observations and ideas through Bible study, preaching, planning and conducting courses, group discussions, conferences and retreats. With the feedback gained from this experience, she wrote a book ("Bread in Our Hands: Feeding God's People in Hungry Times" which was published by the Methodist Publishing House in 2008). In addition, she applied her ideas to pastoral strategy by helping a variety of organisations navigate processes of change. As part of this work, she served as the final Connexional (national) President of the Methodist Women's Network (2010-2011) and the first Vice-President of Methodist Women in Britain (2011-2012).

Most of her travelling, teaching and organisational work was brought to a halt on the recurrence of the breast cancer in June 2011. Almost continuous chemotherapy treatment steadily reduced her physical capabilities until she became largely house-bound. However, she continued to write throughout this period, from within the knowledge of her now terminal condition. Some of her writing from this period carried even greater depth, arising, as it did, from her “engagement” with her cancer.

She died on 15 January 2014.  

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The journey begins…

IA logo 2Welcome to the Imagining Abundance website.

The aim of this site is to show how any one of us can:

  • imagine abundance for ourselves and for others,
  • act as if our vision is real
  • and persevere through adversity until it becomes so.

This website was an ongoing project which the Revd Julie Hulme (creative writer in Christian Spirituality) worked on right up to her death from advanced cancer in January 2014. It has been set up as her legacy, so that her writing may continue to be used – and to inspire others – in the years ahead. It is inevitably “unfinished” – and yet maybe that was always going to be the case, for it is up to each one of us to find our own path, and to write our own story.

Sections of this site:
There are seven major paths through the material on this site, each with a slightly different focus and approaching particular ideas and themes from a specific direction. Julie likened this to the different routes on offer when entering a country park - the two-mile route, the five-mile route, the lakeside path, the woodland one.

JulieJulie's Vision:
"I long to see more spaces made available for reflection and the creativity which emerges when we encounter the Source of life in ourselves and the world through honesty, attention and trust.

Through questioning, purposeful reflection and playful creativity - in solitude and in collaboration with others - we become more aware of the abundant resources available to each one of us in our talents and character, in the generosity of others and in the riches of creation.

If life is a spiritual journey, then most of us need a map to help us understand our longings, make life-giving choices and devise strategies for reaching the personal and collective goals that matter to us.

Discovering abundance is a process of life-long learning in which we accompany one another in a way that generates clarity, generosity, compassion, creativity, conviction and courage.

Courage is required because life is not easy in the first place and engendering life-giving change is not a "quick fix". In pursuing abundant life we will encounter resistance in ourselves and others; various forms of adversity and, depending on our circumstances, obstacles and even aggression.

However, the good news is that there is always a way through if we are determined to live from faith, hope and love, rather than fear. There are simple techniques and tools we can learn which will help us turn each point of fear to a way of faith and a spring of hope. And if we are prepared to work long and hard, alone and with others, even the "passion places" of the world can become gardens of peace.

The journey is a process which, through perseverance and collaboration, transforms us, our relationships, our situation, circumstances and environment. We work together, encouraging, enabling and equipping each other to replicate the process and refine it further so that we generate abundant life in every sense, for all.

And we are sustained on the road by returning, as often as we can, to those spaces of reflection where we find our connection to the Source of life. Here we are renewed in confidence and faith, ready to travel on."

Julie Hulme

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Biography

Julie was a British writer and a member of the Methodist Church of Great Britain. Born in London in 1957, she was educated at a comprehensive school in North Wembley, at Harrow College of Further Education, Durham University (General Arts degree, 1979) and Wesley House, Cambridge, where she trained as a Methodist minister from 1991-1994.

From the age of ten, Julie defined herself as a writer and throughout her adult life she followed a call to live the Ministry of Word and Sacrament (which is how British Methodism defines its presbyteral ministry) as a life of prayer. This call was endorsed by the Methodist Church when she was accepted for training in 1991 and ordained in 1995.

Though primarily a contemplative, she was always open to the full breadth of experience in prayer, from charismatic worship (e.g. prayer for healing with the laying on of hands; "speaking in tongues" etc.) at one end of the spectrum to the complex lectionaries and ordered liturgies of the Benedictine tradition at the other.  

In 1998, an experience of "burn-out" prompted her to plan a radical change of direction and in 2000 she received permission from the Methodist Church to withdraw from normal circuit (pastoral) ministry so that she could focus on the life of prayer.   However, a series of experiences in 2001-2002, including two bereavements and several months' treatment for aggressive breast cancer, left her exhausted, vulnerable and unable to pray or write.  

Unable to draw any strength from conventional Christian spirituality, she began to explore forms of spirituality developing outside the Church, especially as these related to the building of confidence; how "everyday" faith empowers us; how such "everyday" faith is related to various aspects of contemporary culture and also to specific forms of faith such as faith in God; and how a greater understanding of "everyday" faith can revitalise Christian spirituality.   As before, her inquiry was rooted in asking basic questions such as "Does this work?" "Why does it work?" and "How does it work?". Again, her main method of research was to pay close attention to her own responses, explore the ideas in relation to the Bible and express what she was discovering in writing and, increasingly, in art.  

However, from 2003 onwards, she also tested out her observations and ideas through Bible study, preaching, planning and conducting courses, group discussions, conferences and retreats. With the feedback gained from this experience, she wrote a book ("Bread in Our Hands: Feeding God's People in Hungry Times" which was published by the Methodist Publishing House in 2008). In addition, she applied her ideas to pastoral strategy by helping a variety of organisations navigate processes of change. As part of this work, she served as the final Connexional (national) President of the Methodist Women's Network (2010-2011) and the first Vice-President of Methodist Women in Britain (2011-2012).

Most of her travelling, teaching and organisational work was brought to a halt on the recurrence of the breast cancer in June 2011. Almost continuous chemotherapy treatment steadily reduced her physical capabilities until she became largely house-bound. However, she continued to write throughout this period, from within the knowledge of her now terminal condition. Some of her writing from this period carried even greater depth, arising, as it did, from her “engagement” with her cancer.

She died on 15 January 2014.

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