More learning & caring stories

Responding to Crisis
From: Rohingya Refugees, Myanmar

All We Can and the Methodist Church in Britain are calling for support for an urgent appeal for refugees displaced by the recent violence in Myanmar.

Since late August, more than half a million people have fled violence in Myanmar's Rakhine State to Bangladesh for safety. Many of these people, mainly women and children, are currently living in temporary, unsanitary structures constructed out of plastic sheeting and bamboo, in informal camps and settlements. Refugees are arriving in Bangladesh exhausted and traumatised and the local host communities are struggling to respond to the scale of this disaster.   

All We Can has initially responded in the Cox's Bazar area of Bangladesh with essential food supplies for families that have fled the violence, but much more is needed to help with the situation.  

All We Can Communications Manager, Laura Cook said: "Just £16 could provide a refugee with food supplies for six months. We hope, with more funds raised, together we will be able to do even more for the most vulnerable people caught up in this crisis."

You can find out more about the crisis and how you can help here."   

Source: Buzz 170

Mining for God
From: Keswick and Cockermouth Circuit

Tori Jones, a trainee Local Preacher and tour guide for the Honister Slate Mine in the Lake District, led a tour with a difference this summer.

Assisted by the Revd David Hasson, a group of expeditioners traversed the mine for reflection, prayer, Bible readings and singing, all linked to the history and working conditions of the mine.

Mr Hasson said: "The mine, which is situated high up at the top of Honister pass, is in the midst of the awesome beauty of God's creation. We were enabled to praise him, thank him, pray for others and reflect on our own relationship with God. There was also the opportunity to experience the contrast between complete darkness and the big difference just a little light can make to that darkness."

The Revd Richard Teal, Chair of the Cumbria District, who also attended added: "Mining for God was an awesome experience. It enabled us to experience something of the almighty power of God through worship, movement, spirituality, singing, fellowship and creation."

Source: Buzz 169    

Memory Worship
From: Wesley Methodist Church, Leigh-on-Sea

A church in Leigh-on-Sea has been shortlisted for Premier's 2017 Love Britain & Ireland Award for working with older people, after holding monthly services of welcome for people with and without Dementia. 

Communications Officer for Wesley Methodist Church, Anna Wratislaw, said: "It is our vision, in Memory Worship, that people with or without dementia can approach, worship and praise God together. 

"Worship can be a channel for recalling the past, creating feelings of comfort, familiarity and spiritual fulfilment. 

"The services take a regular pattern of welcome. We sing well-known hymns, read familiar passages of scripture and say the Lord's Prayer together followed by a craft activity, which provides an opportunity for conversation to reinforce the theme of the service."

Minister of the church, the Revd Julia Monaghan, emphasised the need for such a service: "We believe in a God who accepts you and meets you where you are today." 

Source: Buzz 168   

Doing all the good we can
From: Methodists Schools in the UK

A short video exploring the history, values and impact of Methodist Schools across the country was launched at the Methodist Conference this week.

Doing all the good we can features a series of interviews with pupils, teachers, parents and chaplains as they share their thoughts and experiences of Methodist Schools.

Speaking in the video, Barbara Easton, Director of Education, says: "Our schools are about giving children the very best educational opportunities, wherever they are, in whichever sector, however old the children."

With around 25,000 pupils, 5,000 staff and estimated effect on some 100,000 people in Britain, Methodist Schools have a wide-reaching impact on children's education.

However, Methodist Schools are not just concerned with matters of education but also issues of society and well-being.

"We've got a bunch of school values," says Ollie of Holly Hill Methodist/CoE Infant School. "We've got gentleness, kindness, thankfulness, patience, love... there's way too many for me to even say them all!"

Source: Buzz 167     

Baildon goes green
From: Baildon Methodist Church, Bradford

A church in Yorkshire has been making small changes with a big impact to lower their emissions and become more energy conscious.

Germinating from the passion and initiative of a single member, Baildon Methodist Church has gone on to raise thousands of pounds, undertake extra building works and significantly lower their gas and electricity consumption.

Through unique initiatives, such as the 'Green Fund' which encouraged people to donate a small portion of their flights and car journey costs, the church was able to purchase items such as draught excluders and insulation materials.

Today the church is a triple-certificated 'Eco Congregation', with zero carbon emissions due to its Far Infra-red electrical heating and other green technologies.

John Anderson, former Eco-Officer to the church, said: "As a local preacher, I preach eco-theology, which I define as the study of God as if all God's creation mattered.

"By widening the circle of those involved in acting to preserve all God's beautiful created world, we cease feeling alone."

Source: Buzz 166    

Friendly Faces
From: Truro Methodist Church, Cornwall

Truro Methodist Church held a special commissioning service this month for their 'Friendly Faces' Dementia Ambassadors.

This brand new innovative initiative is a pastoral programme developed at Truro which seeks to work alongside those living with dementia.

The ambassadors have all received training and are part of a Dementia Awareness group active in Cornwall.

The ecumenical scheme hopes to draw alongside families, individuals and couples during the early stages of dementia and help to build a sense of trust which can be sustained for both the person with dementia and their carers as the disease progresses.

Source: Buzz 165    

Amazing Love!
From: Wesley Memorial Church, Oxford

"There's madness in these Methodists!"

Not words you would expect to hear sung in a Methodist Church, but for two nights in February, a group of performers from Wesley Memorial Church, Oxford, put on a new Methodist musical - following the sometimes disastrous early careers of the Wesley brothers.

'Amazing Love' the musical, written by Jack Godfrey, takes its name from Charles and John's realisation that what matters most in life is that "God is with us."

More than 50 members of the Wesley Memorial Church congregation were involved in a variety of roles including cast, musicians, lights, sound, catering, costumes, make-up, publicity and everything else.

One of the organisers of the event, Paul Spray, said: "The result was so much more than the sum of its parts. It was funny, powerful and moving. To God be the glory - and if any church would like to put it on, do get in touch."

Source: Buzz 164      

Social Action Award
From:   Huncote Methodist Church, Leicester

Members from the 1st Huncote Girls' Brigade were presented with an award by His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, at Buckingham Palace, in recognition for their dedication and commitment to social action. 

The group, aged between four and eight years old, have been involved in a range of social action projects over the past year, including games nights, fundraising events and supporting local food banks.

The 'Youth United Dedication Award', presented to the group from Huncote Methodist Church, was awarded for the most significant commitment to social action across the Youth United network, a network of uniformed youth organisations.

The Girls' Brigade Director, Ruth Gilson, said: "1st Huncote are proof that age isn't a barrier when it comes to making a difference. They're an inspiration and a great example of how Girls' Brigade groups across the country help and give to others in their local communities."

(Source: Buzz 163)     

Welcome Boxes
From: Methodist Central Hall, Westminster

A group of volunteers in a central London church have been showing kindness and friendship to their community as part of a new initiative called 'Welcome Boxes'.

Inspired by the work of Karina Martin and her team from Derby in October 2015, the group fill boxes with gifts and presents for refugees in the local area.

The group has five trained co-ordinators and is actively seeking more volunteers. After a slow start, the group now receives regular referrals from The British Red Cross and visits six different refugee families around London, on an ongoing basis. 

Nana Ocran, co-ordinator of the group said: "The feedback from the families so far has been very positive. They have all said they appreciated having someone come and visit them. One of our families has started coming to our church too, where they said, they had been made to feel very welcome. We look forward to visiting more families in 2017." 

(Source: Buzz 162 - New Year Bumper Special)    

Family Farm Fun Day
From: Huntingdon Methodist Church, Cambridgeshire

Hundreds of families enjoyed a free farm experience courtesy of St Mary's Church and Huntingdon Methodist Church in Cambridgeshire.

As part of the church's harvest weekend, a number of helpers from many local churches were involved in making the special day one to remember.

The large tractor and live animals in the car-park, were the main attraction, and inside both churches there were over 30 farm related games, challenges and crafts to be tried. The children were given beans for each game and task they successfully completed and their bag of beans was weighed when the Fun Day came to a close to see who had achieved the most. Free refreshments were on hand to help keep up the energy levels for the children as well as a welcome sit-down for the parents!

The event was the idea of Richard Schwier, the Young People's outreach worker at Huntingdon Methodist Church, and was the latest event in which the Huntingdon town-centre churches worked together to provide free events for both families and young people in the community.

Richard said: "Our churches are a vital part of our community and we wanted to show that we have a living Christian faith which is readily available for everyone, every day of the week, and not just on Sundays and special occasions."

(Source: Buzz 162 - New Year Bumper Special)   

Churches Supporting One Another
From: Howden Methodist Church, East Yorkshire

A church in Yorkshire demonstrated ecumenical unity last year after seeing that the local Roman Catholic Church needed urgent roof repair work.

Howden Methodist Church held a special coffee morning with a variety of stalls, raising nearly £400 for the appeal.

Minister of the church, the Revd Sue Pegg, said: "Not only did the coffee day help with much needed funds, but it also gave the two congregations an opportunity to get to know each other better over coffee and cake."

(Source: Buzz 162 - New Year Bumper Special)  

Scarecrow Festival
From: Harpole Methodist Church, Northampton

Harpole Methodist Church, with support from the Circuit Leadership Team, held a scarecrow festival to remember, featuring their own 'living' scarecrow.

One of the organisers of the event, Circuit Steward Vic Winchcombe, said: "What started as a small idea became a positive mission outreach to children, families and adults alike. We had some interesting conversations with young and old about faith and prayer and are already planning for next year's event!"

Deacon Richard Beckett, who also helped to organise the day, added: "There were around 200 children and families that joined in the festivities and much work took place behind the scenes too, through publicity, prayers and many cups of tea! Thank you God for allowing us to be part of your mission."

(Source: Buzz 162 - New Year Bumper Special)      

Holiday at Home
From: Freshwater Methodist Church, Isle of Wight

A group of churches in the Isle of Wight put on a special three day retreat to help local senior citizens get away over the summer.

Holiday at Home for Seniors at Freshwater Methodist Church saw a group of 30 seniors 'travel' to Italy, Greece and across the UK. Each day the community came together to enjoy different cultures and cuisine as well as to enjoy lots of fun, friendship and fellowship.

Each day there were new activities including crafts such as decorating picture frames, making model aeroplanes and times for sharing memories of past holidays.

One of the volunteers, Doreen Dace, said: "Perhaps the highlight of the holiday for me was our daily community singing sessions. On one of the days we learnt some Greek dances led by our Lay Worker, Mike Hackleton accompanied by Nana Mouskouri's singing."

Every day finished with a short epilogue which included talking about Paul's letter writing and the achievements of the Olympics!

Doreen added: "It was all such an enormous success, we are already planning for next year's Holiday at Home!"

(Source: Buzz 162 - New Year Bumper Special)     

Funding for the Community
From: Sark Methodist Church, Channel Islands

A £10,000 National Churches Trust Community Grant will help to fund a major project to build a new extension, to be called 'The Centre', at Sark Methodist Church, to allow the church to expand its community work.

The church is one of 29 churches and chapels in the UK to benefit from the latest grants from the National Churches Trust, the UK church repair and support charity.

Broadcaster and Journalist Huw Edwards, Vice-President of the National Churches Trust, said: "I'm delighted that the building of a new modern community centre for Sark Methodist church is being made possible by a £10,000 National Churches Trust Community Grant. This funding will help ensure that this important local building will be able to better serve local children and families and those in need."

"At the heart of the nation's history and at the centre of local communities, churches and chapels are some of the UK's best loved local buildings. But their future is not guaranteed.

"But everyone can make a contribution to the future of the UK's churches and chapels by volunteering to help look after the building. If you've got practical skills you could help clear drains and gutters, if you are a good communicator you could help show people the history and architecture of your local church or you could simply keep an eye out for vandals or thieves.

"Churches and chapels may be historic buildings, but they can be part of our future, too."

(Source: Buzz 162 - New Year Bumper Special)    

Opening Doors
From: Open Door Methodist Church, Durham

In a time when many churches are closing down, a community in Willington have just finished building a new modern facility for local people.

The project was initially inspired by a group of young people who challenged the church to look forward and ensure the building would be fit for use in the years to come.

Those young people started the church on a journey which has seen great commitment of local people including church members, as they have raised over half the cost of the new building.

(Source: Buzz 162 - New Year Bumper Special)    

The Listening Service
From: Edinburgh Sheriff Court

A new chaplaincy initiative called The Listening Service has been launched in Edinburgh, with a team of 19 trained chaplains from the city's faith communities at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

The new court's chaplains provide an independent, confidential support service to all court users and staff - of all faiths and none. Court staff and staff from other agencies at the court (e.g. social work, Victim Support) are also able to refer court users to the Listening Service, which is free, private and confidential; a listening ear for all who request it.

The court chaplaincy service will be the first of its kind in Scotland but is based on a successful model that has been running in Bradford since 2009.

Local faith leaders and the Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association, in conjunction with the Sheriff Principal and the Sheriff Clerk, have been involved in the Listening Service project since it was proposed back in January 2016.

The Revd Andrew Letby, Superintendent Minister of the Edinburgh & Forth Circuit of the Methodist Church and Listening Service Project Leader, said: "After two years of planning and development it is exciting to finally be launching.

"Courts can be a very difficult and confusing place and it's hoped that this new service will offer a non-judgemental listening ear." 

(Source: Buzz 162 - New Year Bumper Special)      

Migration Debate
From: Lansdowne Crescent Methodist Church, Worcestershire

A church in Malvern, Worcestershire, held an engaging debate on the position of migration in the UK toward the end of 2016.

The Lansdowne Question Time Debate, held at Lansdowne Crescent Methodist Church, was a great success, with around 120 people attend the panel debate on a wide range of questions and comments about migration.

The speakers included directors and coordinators from projects, businesses and people who have direct experience of supporting, working with or being a migrant in the UK; along with the Venerable Robert Jones, Archdeacon of Worcester chairing the panellists.

After coffee, several members of the audience asked questions to the panel on many thought-provoking topics including 'what is the impact of climate change on migration.'  Despite some negative emails in the lead up to the event, the atmosphere at the debate was receptive and positive and the speakers and audience remained well engaged throughout.

(Source: Buzz 162 - New Year Bumper Special)     

Pop-Up Christmas
From: Brigg Methodist Church, Lincolnshire

The Brigg Churches Together Partnership undertook a special community service project this Christmas and opened a Christian pop-up shop in the town.

Christmas shoppers were welcomed in to learn about the true meaning of Christmas with a variety of Christian materials available for purchasing as Christmas gifts.

One visitor commented: "This is just what Brigg wanted and needed."

(Source: Christmas Special, Buzz 161)  

Eco-Weekend Celebrations
From: Streetly Methodist Church, Sutton Coldfield

Streetly Methodist Church in Sutton Coldfield held an Eco-Weekend to celebrate being given a Bronze Eco Church award and the commissioning of their new wood pellet boiler.

Following a boiler malfunction, members from the church met together to discuss their options. At the time, the church wasn't particularly aware of their environmental impact, but in researching for the new boiler discovered the benefits of the more eco-friendly option. 

In preparing for the boiler, the members re-discovered some land in the church grounds which they subsequently turned into an eco-garden, with a little help from the kids!

The weekend involved a jam-packed programme of eco-themed talks, competitions and services involving the local community, uniformed groups and guest speakers.

Dr Ruth Valerio, Churches and Theology Director for A Rocha UK, spoke at the event and officiated at the Bronze Eco Church award. She said: "It's wonderful to see what a regular church can do. You don't have to have a huge congregation with lots of resources to do something special and worthwhile. It's a privilege to see so many churches taking care for God's world to the heart of their faith."

If you'd like to learn more about eco-friendly alternatives and how your church can become an Eco Church, please get in touch.

(Source: Buzz 160)     

Ministers on the move!
From: Across the Connexion

Following in the steps of Wesley, Methodist ministers are called to move across the Connexion through a process called Stationing.

While moving away is never easy, it can be a great adventure and an opportunity to get to know and shape different communities across the country.

It's also a great opportunity to be seen in the local paper!

(Source: Buzz 159)    

Work Experience Church
From: Trinity and All Saints Church, Abingdon

For the past seven years, Trinity Learning has offered work experience placements to Abingdon's three secondary schools with great success, its year seeing their 25th student.

Every year, thousands of Year 10 pupils across the country have to find themselves a work experience placement. For many, this won't be too difficult, but for some - without family ties, or those who aren't confident in their abilities - even finding a placement can be a daunting prospect.

Trinity and All Saints Church have been able to provide experience to a wide range of students with learning difficulties and disabilities. Having a work placement with the church offers young people more encouragement and care than they may receive in other environments. So far, pupils have been involved in a wide variety of tasks, including preparing for events and catering, and always leave with a sense of achievement and value.

"Church work placements are a great opportunity, not just for the young people, but for the church as well," said Rosemary Perrow, Education & Development Officer. "You don't even need a church office - just someone who's patient, able to co-ordinate the young person's week and lots of church volunteers who need a helping hand!

"Why not, take the plunge and contact your local secondary school? They may well have someone in mind." 

(Source: Buzz 158)    

Free Bike Scheme
From: Winterslow Methodist Church, Wiltshire

Cycling 1A church in Wiltshire has bought bicycles, helmets and reflective equipment to be used by the local community as part of a new initiative to bring people together.

Paul Hardiman, the organiser of the initiative, said: "So far several local groups have taken advantage of the equipment, including the Scouts, the Beavers, the Cubs, the Guides, the Brownies and even some adult groups too.

"The bikes are for all ages to use and have fun. The aim is primarily for enjoyment, but clearly learning to ride and increasing your confidence in cycling also come as part of the package.

"As well as promoting good health, it is yet another way that the church can show it is engaging with the community and sharing God's love for us all."

(Source: Buzz 157)   

#RethinkSanctions
From: Department of Works and Pensions London

Immediately after the Conference adjourned on Thursday 7 July, the President and Vice-President of the Conference, along with Deacon Tracey Hume, delivered a letter to the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) about Methodist concern on Benefit Sanctions.

The letter came following a Memorial from the Newcastle upon Tyne District highlighting the effects of benefit sanctions on poor people. Speaking to the Conference, Deacon Tracey Hume, who proposed the memorial, said: "The sanctions regime disproportionately affects some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Young people, homeless people, single parents, people with long-term mental health problems.

"At our foodbank, we regularly have clients going without food so their children can eat."

The letter expressed the Church's concerns and repeated its call for a full independent inquiry, asking that the DWP implement the recommendations of the All Party Parliamentary Group Report, 2015.

In its reply, the Conference referred to the report produced by the Joint Public Issues Team: 'Time to Rethink Benefit Sanctions'.

(Source: Buzz 156)  

Pilgrims on a Journey
From: Cambridge Methodist Circuit

Following the theme of the Methodist Prayer Handbook, Pilgrims on a Journey, the Cambridge Circuit decided to explore pilgrimage and migration in a day of prayer and reflection at Toft Methodist Chapel, Cambridgeshire.

Almost 100 people filled the chapel, with representatives from churches across the circuit and the local Anglican church. The day comprised of music from the Circuit Music Group along with readings from Ruth and Colossians and a reading of Refugees, a poem by Malcolm Guite.

Members of the congregation were also encouraged to write their own prayers considering the needs of migrants on small squares of paper which were transformed into origami boats. These were then floated on water, serving to highlight the fragility of the boats the migrants use.

Reflecting on the day, Circuit Steward Steve Acklam said: "Refugees and Christians have much in common.

"Both are on journeys: one to reach safety in the world and one to reach safety in the Kingdom of God. Just as the refugees' journey has a path and a purpose, so too do our journeys with God and the journeys in the Bible.

"It's within the journey that identity is created."

A collection on the night for the Methodist Refugee Support Fund raised over £440 and this has been rounded up by the circuit to £500. 

(Source: Buzz 155) 

Community Banner
From: Oadby Trinity Methodist Church, Leicester

Members of Oadby Trinity Methodist Church, Leicester, have made a community banner after members were inspired by attending a banner making workshop.  

Community Outreach Worker Lesley Green said: "We are part of a multicultural community in Oadby, south of the city, and our church and café are used by lots of different groups. We wanted to make everyone feel welcomed, especially as Oadby Trinity Methodist aims to be 'A church for all at the heart of the community', and thought that a banner would be a wonderful way to do this."

Through the combined effort of church members talented in art, calligraphy and banner making, a colourless banner was made. Other members and visitors were then asked to help complete the design by colouring in the different sections.

The banner was dedicated on the church's Easter Day service and now hangs in the entrance of the church for all to see.

(Source: Buzz 154)

Giving up church for Lent
From: Castle Street Methodist Church, Abergavenny

Castle Street Methodist Church agreed to 'give up' traditional church for Lent to worship together in different and unique ways.

"Giving up was the easy part; more puzzling was how to 'do' church in a different, though Christian, way - on six consecutive Sundays," said Hilda Turnbull, Vestry Steward for the church.

To set the tone of the Lenten 'fast', the first 'non-church' service was held in the schoolroom.

The second Sunday saw the congregation join other Christians from the local community for a joint service followed by a Bring and Share lunch, and an evening of praise and worship.

The congregation also gathered for a quiz, which was concluded by a three-way draw!

The following Sunday saw people join together for a prayer journey with Jesus. Seven scriptures, which had been written in the style of archive articles from "The Jerusalem Shofar", were each placed amidst thoughtful displays, which helped introduce the congregation to a new way of contemplative prayer.

Palm Sunday involved a walk from 7 Corners, the nearby drop-in centre for 13-25 year olds, to the church. On the journey, Ang, the centre manager, gave an insight into the centre's work and the new caravan outreach project, "Hotspot". The Church is a long-term supporter of 7 Corners.

Hilda added: "No-one likes change, but interestingly, only a few of the congregation didn't want to join in with the fast. Quite counter-intuitively, giving up church for Lent seemed to give people a real sense of meaning and gave us all the chance to get to know each other a bit better."

(Source: Buzz 153 Easterl) 

Passion for the disadvantaged
From:  America

Organisation was one of Asbury's strongest gifts. When in America, he created 'circuits' of churches, each of which would be served by circuit riders - preachers who travelled from church to church to preach and minister, especially in rural areas. In the late 1700s, around 95 percent of Americans lived in places with fewer than 2,500 inhabitants, and thus most did not have regular access to church or clergy.

Asbury's administrative skills went beyond the facilitating of churches and, despite leaving school at only 12 years old, he would go on to launch five schools himself and founded many more Sunday schools across America, in which children were taught reading, writing and arithmetic.

Asbury's passions did not end with administration and preaching though. He hated slavery and petitioned George Washington to enact anti-slavery legislation. "My spirit was grieved at the conduct of some Methodists," wrote Asbury, "that hire slaves at public places to the highest bidder, to cut skin, and starve them." Contrary to his time, Asbury would go on to ordain the Revd Richard Allen in Philadelphia, the very first black minister in the United States.

(Source: Buzz 152 - Asbury Special) 

Top royal award
From:  Driffield Methodist Church, York

Driffield Methodist Church has received the Duke of York's Community Initiative Award for 'the total transformation of an old and dilapidated school room into a superb, clean, well-maintained facility in which members of the community could promote their own organisations.'

The committee in charge of the project has so far raised more than £100,000 for the works - leading to a number of improvements and upgrades to the building including new windows, modern heating, new toilets and the fitting of solar panels.

The church has been transformed into an accommodating space for all aspects of the local community and is already being used for many activities including playgroups, yoga, slimming clubs, dance and sports.

Richard Mole, speaking on behalf of the Custodian Committee, said: "The Community Initiative Award is given annually to organisations who are seen to be making a very real difference to the communities they serve. It is a delight to receive independent recognition for all the hard work involved, especially in honouring the work of all the volunteers who continue to support the community through the various groups that use the premises."

The Duke of York's Community Initiative is open to local charities and community groups from across the whole of Yorkshire. More details can be found atwww.thedukeofyorkscommunityinitiative.org.uk

(Source: Buzz 151) 

Historical Panel 
From: Mint Methodist Church, Exeter

John Wesley visited Exeter many times but unlike many other towns he visited, there was no plaque or indication of these visits anywhere in the city.

Following grants from the Exeter Civic Society, The Devonshire Association, the Exeter Local History Society and individual donations, an information board was produced and unveiled on Wesley Day by the Lord Mayor of Exeter and the former District Chair, the Revd John Carne.

The Historical Information Panel is displayed on the front railings of the city centre church in Fore Street, Exeter. A large crowd of members from the church and friends from other local churches attended the event: enjoying the talk, refreshments and exhibition of Wesley memorabilia.

Browen Lea, Senior Steward at the Mint Methodist Church, said: "We hope that many walking past our church will stop to read the information panel which not only describes past events, but encourages people to come into our recently redeveloped church centre to find out what goes on in our church today."

(Source: Bumper Buzz Speciial 150)   

Survival Training
From: Wesley Centre Harrogate, Leeds

The Wesley Centre, Harrogate, hosted a special event organised by Matthew Lunn, the Circuit Children and Families Worker, and Poppy Winks, the Circuit Youth Development Worker.

The Year 7 Survival Guide was a day of special activities specifically aimed at Year 6 pupils leaving primary school and are going on to secondary school for the first time.

The day was organised to alleviate youngsters' fears and to help them get ready for their big move.

Children took part a variety of activities, including games and crafts, talks by local experts and a bungee run.

The Wesley Centre was only able to hold this event because of its very successful renovation, which included the removal of pews and the fitting of a wooden floor, making the Upper Hall extremely flexible.

(Source: Bumper Buzz Speciial 150)   

A Safe Place in the City
From: The Cornerstone Café, Lancaster

"Fantastic food"; "Excellent staff"; "Welcoming and caring atmosphere" - just some of the glowing comments given by customers at the Cornerstone Café.

The café has been open for over two years and is run by Lancaster Methodist Church in the heart of the city centre.

It was set-up as a way to build community in the city, but also as a way to reach out to vulnerable folk and provide a place where skills for life and future employability could be gained.

Employing two members of staff and supported by a team of volunteers, most of whom have learning disabilities, the café seeks to express the love of God through a warm welcome to all, healthy food, yummy cakes, and good coffee at affordable prices.

The Revd Steve Charman said: "Two years on, we have a vibrant and caring community. There have been challenges along the way, such as balancing the costs to the customers with our commitment to Fairtrade.

"However, we are seeing lives transformed through the café. Our volunteers are gaining personal skills, confidence and independence and teamwork experience, and we are seeing barriers such as prejudices being broken-down.

"We are experiencing something of the kingdom of God being built in our midst. We've also been nominated for 'Café of the Year' in our local paper!

"If you're in Lancaster, come and find us!"

(Source: Bumper Buzz Speciial 150)    

'The New Testament, but not as you know it'
From: Around the UK

Methodist minister the Revd Dr David G Palmer has been touring the country with 'An Exhibition in Art: Seeing the New Testament for what it is.' With his books, educational and evangelistic aids, David has travelled the UK promoting 'a disciplined reading of the New Testament texts'.

"The presentations," David said, "reveal features of the books that people have not really seen since the first centuries. At that time, the Greek texts were not translated as documents, just as words."

The tour continues and it is David's hope that it will conclude in his home town of Hull, sometime next year.

(Source: Bumper Buzz Speciial 150)   

Getting away without going far
From: The Methodist Church Centre, Stratford-upon-Avon

They say "a change is as good as a rest" and that theory is proven each year by Holiday at Home, a project attended by 30 older people, which saw its participants benefit from a welcome holiday experience and a refreshing break from their routines.

With support from Stratford Town Trust and Contact the Elderly, the project, now in its seventh year, operates over three days in the summer with an additional Away Day each spring, held at the centre.

No holiday packing nor shopping were required as a team of volunteers drove and served the holiday-makers. They participated together in a wide range of opportunities for fun activities, to learn new skills and to make new friends.

Last summer, the project's theme was 'Food for Thought', which saw participants take part in a variety of activities including baking bread in flowerpots.

A professional artist from Escape Community Arts also encouraged the group in tasks, such as designing and painting canvas bags

(Source: Bumper Buzz Speciial 150)    

Airport Chaplaincy Takes Off
From: Leeds Bradford Airport

The Revd Andrew Atkins is the newly appointed Coordinating Chaplain for Leeds Bradford Airport. He was welcomed to his role by an ecumenical group of senior Church leaders during a visit to the airport.

The post was created with financial support from the Leeds and West Yorkshire Methodist Districts and the Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales. Andrew, a Methodist minister in the Aireborough and Wharfedale Circuit, shares the airport ministry with two volunteer chaplains: the Revd Richard Dimery, Vicar of Woodside, Horsforth, and the Revd David Arblaster, a Catholic deacon.

Andrew said: "Chaplaincy enables a visible Christian pastoral ministry to staff and passengers alike. I'm round and about the airport with my hi-vis vest that says 'Chaplain' on it and that can lead to all sorts of conversations.

"For example, I recently helped a couple find a taxi and in the process they told me that their son died two years ago and it was the first time they'd been away since. Airports are often fast-moving, anonymous places and they were evidently feeling vulnerable and were glad just to have a chat."

Carol Burrows, Head of HR at the airport, added: "Millions of passengers pass through the airport every year and the people element here is so dynamic; you get glimpses into peoples' lives that you don't get in any other job. It can be hilarious one moment and then very distressing the next - and so the chaplains' work is invaluable to us and a great support."

In addition to their regular duties, the chaplains are also part of the airport's Disasters and Emergency Planning - which means they're always on call in case of an emergency.

If you would like more information about setting up an airport chaplaincy, or would like to volunteer with the team, get in touch below.

(Source: Bumper Buzz Speciial 150)      

Listening Year
From: Christchurch Ilkley, Leeds District

The appearance of a traditional nomad yurt inside Christchurch Ilkley's worship area is not a sign of roof problems, but a new initiative in inter faith outreach.

The colourful yurt is the new focal point for the launch of a Year of Listening. The yurt itself is on loan from 'Touchstone', an inter faith outreach organisation based in Bradford

Minister, the Revd Rob Hilton, explains: "During the coming 12 months we are encouraging individuals and groups to find space and listen to each other, our community, the wider world, and, of course, God! Anyone is welcome to call and take time out in the yurt to be still and aware."

15-21 November marked Inter Faith Week 2015, which saw religious groups of all kinds celebrate their diversities and commonalities, highlight their good works for local communities and facilitate greater relationships with others in their area. For more information on the events which took place, and on how to get involved next year,  click here.

(Source: Buzz 149)  

Providing Hospitality
From: Lincolnshire District Synod

Methodists in Lincolnshire passed a motion at their Autumn Synod calling upon local councils to each provide hospitality and accommodation for at least 10 refugee families in response to the current refugee crisis.

Concerning the motion, the Revd Bruce Thompson said "It is our fundamental belief that as a society based on Christian principles we should meet our neighbours' needs providing food for the hungry, accommodation for the homeless and refuge for the persecuted."

Directly in response to the motion, Winterton Town Council agreed to take in refugee families following support from both local schools and doctors.

In addition, the Synod encouraged its circuits to identify premises that could accommodate refugee families. Since then, a number have initiated or supported local groups seeking to work alongside local authorities in providing refuge.

(Source: Buzz 148)  

Creative Sustainability
From: Methodist Chaplaincy, Brighton University

Tallula Bentley has won first prize for her final year textile project in the new 'Creative Sustainability' category, co-created by the Brighton University Dean of the College of Arts and Methodist Chaplaincy team.

Entrants had to be final year students who used recycled products as part of a project or covered recycling as a topic for a written piece of work.

Assisted by the University, the prize was judged by the Revd Robin Selmes and Sue Harrington, the Brighton Circuit Student Development Worker, both of the Brighton University Chaplaincy team.

In awarding the prize, Robin stated "We liked the complete nature of Tallula's project - from its inspired use of recycled materials, to the use of patching techniques to extend the life of the garment; a piece of recycle and repair rather than rejection."

This award is the latest in a range of creative ways that the chaplaincy team have been raising their profile - from Fairtrade events to film nights.

If you would like to hear more about the good works of the Brighton University Methodist Chaplaincy, get in touch below.

(Source: Buzz 147) 

Life-sized igloo turns heads
From: New Longton Methodist Church, Lancashire

New Longton Methodist Church, in the Preston Ribble Circuit in the Lancashire District held a holiday bible club this summer with a difference.

Following Scripture Union's 'Polar Explorers' materials, the church came up with the unique idea of creating a life-sized igloo to help the children get into the frosty spirit. Approximately 15ft high by 13ft wide, the igloo was made out of between 4500-5000 milk bottles collected from church members, friends, local businesses, coffee shops, lunch clubs and neighbouring churches.

Ms Alison Wallwork added, "Despite the months of collecting, gluing and constructing the effort was well worth it in the end - making a huge impact on the community. Everyone who walked by stopped to ask about the igloo. People have even driven past and then turned around to come back and look again! This has given the church many ideal opportunities to share the message with them and invite them to come along. The church has even had people put their name down for the holiday bible club mailing list in two years' time for when their children will be old enough to attend."

(Source: Buzz 146) 

Seeing Red
From: Blaydon, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

Last year, nearly a million people had their benefit payments sanctioned (stopped) for failing to obey, in full, detailed instructions related to finding work. Research for a report launched by the Methodist Church and its ecumenical partners showed that sanctions disproportionately impact the most vulnerable people, and last year affected 100,000 children. Over 100 people assessed as unfit for work due to mental health problems are sanctioned each day.

Deacon Tracey Hume helps to run a foodbank in her church. "I am so distressed to see people having to resort to a Foodbank because they have been sanctioned. I can't sit and do nothing anymore," she said.

So, inspired by the inaugural address of Methodist Vice-President Jill Barber, and by the #RethinkSanctions campaign, Tracey created a t-shirt campaign - supporters wear red on Fridays and skip a meal in solidarity with those who will struggle to eat because they have had their benefits sanctioned.

Tracey added, "I would like people to buy one of the t shirts and wear it every Friday wherever they are. I would love to see red t shirts being worn in every town and city to raise awareness of this issue and put pressure on the government to look at the system."

(Source: Buzz 145) 

Fairtrade Celebration Weekend 
From: Huddersfield Circuit

During the middle weekend of Fairtrade Fortnight Huddersfield Circuit together with Kirklees Fairtrade, Huddersfield Mission andfairandfunky organised a Fairtrade Fair and an all-age service.

At the Fair many visitors enjoyed an ethical marketplace, browsing stalls showcasing a wide range of fairly traded goods from around the world sold by local businesses. They including a Traidcraft stall from Holmfirth Methodist Church and a Friends of Clem stall - for over 20 years members of the Methodist Church have supported women in Bolivia, through the sale of goods made from the colourful Aguayo cloth. Throughout the day entertainment was provided by a local U3A Choir, Honley Samba Band, Hot Banana Ukulele Band and Choir and Hoot Guitar Orchestra. Children were encouraged to get creative with fairandfunky and become a Fairtrade superhero by making a mask from recycled materials.

The service on Sunday afternoon was introduced by a local preacher who, after the singing of a 'Fairtrade version' of "We plough the fields and scatter" by Alison Blenkinsop, explained the circuit's Fairtrade Pledge and invited the congregation to experience one or more of the stations round the church. They included making Fairtrade kebabs, creative writing, a Fairtrade prayer labyrinth, Fairtrade DVD clips, a puzzle corner, an information table for resources, creating a giant Fairtrade logo and a presentation explaining the symbols on the Divine chocolate wrappers. The congregation reassembled to make an 'origami cross' from a Divine chocolate wrapper and following prayers and a combined commitment for justice and Fairtrade they were led out, holding their crosses, singing "We are marching in the light of God."

(Source: Buzz 144)

Holy Habits
From: Birmingham Circuit, Birmingham District

The churches of the Birmingham Circuit were empty on Sunday 17 May, as congregations converged on the International Convention Centre to celebrate the start of an exciting new journey.

As a result of a Circuit review, the recently formed Circuit identified discipleship as an area for development. In Acts 2: 42-47, ten 'Holy Habits' can be seen shaping the church: Eating Together, Prayer, Making More Disciples, Gladness and Generosity, Breaking Bread, Fellowship, Service, Biblical Teaching, Sharing Resources. These Holy Habits will form the core of a Circuit-wide programme of growth in discipleship over the next two years.

Material for each Holy Habit is being produced by motivated and diversely-gifted working groups from across the Circuit. Every two months a new habit will be introduced at a Sunday service in each church using suggested worship and preaching resources. Then the habit will be explored and lived via small group activities (including Bible study), practical activities, spiritual practices and other appropriate experiences and actions, including suggestions for personal reading, studying and viewing.

The Revd Neil Johnson, one of the team of three circuit superintendents says, "The challenge for the Birmingham Circuit is about seizing this God-given opportunity to reclaim our roots, restate our aims and refocus our mission by using the Holy Habits resources. Then we will surely grow as individuals, as congregations and as a Christian community engaging with the world we are called to serve."

Growth in discipleship is central to the District's mission strategy. This is an excellent example of a circuit working collaboratively together and with their District Evangelism Enabler and a regional DMLN Officer.  

(Source: Buzz 143)

Messy Monopoly!
From: St Mark's United Church, Sutton Circuit

Twenty-two coloured streets, four different churches, five Messy Church values, eight eager teams and a fine London day - put them all together and what do you get?  Messy Monopoly!  The idea was the brainchild of Charis Lambert and Michelle O'Conner, who together co-ordinate Messy Churches in south-west London.

The event was organised to raise money for BRF's fresh expression of church, Messy Church. It began and ended at the Oasis Church, Waterloo: Lucy Moore, who works for BRF and is responsible for developing the work of Messy Church nationally and internationally, sent us on our way with a prayer at 10.00, and six hours later all team members gathered for a reviving tea and pizza and a great Monopoly story told by Martyn Payne from BRF.

So, on Saturday 25 April, three raring-to-go teams from St Mark's, Tattenham Corner set out to walk, bus and tube their way around London, taking photographic evidence of the 22 places visited with their mascots - yellow rubber gloves! The mascots had to appear in all photos as evidence they had actually been there on the day.  To earn extra points the teams also had to demonstrate the five core values of Messy Church: Christ-centred, celebration, hospitality, intergenerational and creative. The teams were certainly creative as they pounded the streets and tried to fulfil all Messy Monopoly's requirements. Andrew, one of the St Mark's team, was celebrating his 12th birthday and had birthday cakes with candles and sparklers on the journey and was sung to by a large group of Austrian tourists.  Just what a 12-year old needs to make his day!  

(Source: Buzz 142)

The Living Room
From: Southport Circuit

Tina Powsey tells of a new initiative which may be at the start of the Fresh Expressions journey…

I am the Fresh Expressions Worker for the Southport Methodist Circuit. When I started in the job, I prayed about what God wanted me to concentrate on. One of the areas of concern that I felt he was talking to me about was people on the fringe - such as the homeless and vulnerable.  

So, thinking about reaching those on the margins, I began serving at the Soup Kitchen on London Street, Southport - and finally the idea came to me to provide something more for the guests.

Almost a year later, we went for a church weekend away and the Soup Kitchen organiser was there. The Soup Kitchen had been given permission by the Council to open up for another day in the week but they didn't have enough volunteers to staff an extra day. That meant there was an opportunity for something else to happen at the venue, so The Living Room was created to meet at the Soup Kitchen on Tuesdays from 11am to 1pm.     

Our guests call The Living Room all sorts of things, including a lighthouse and a safe place; others come every single week and call it their church. We open at 11am and have a reflection and worship time together at 12.15pm. One of our recent themes was 'gratitude'; we made a paper chain together on which we each wrote something for which we were thankful. It's encouraging to see everyone participate and learn new ways to have simple conversations with their Creator.

(Source: Buzz 141)

Caring for the planet
From: Methodist Schools

Thirty year five and six students made history recently and made a statement about the planet while they were about it.

For the first time, students from the three Methodist schools in the Canterbury area (Boughton-under Blean, St Peter's Canterbury and Kent College Canterbury) came together to take part in an art day supported by World AIMS (part of All We Can).

The theme for the day was Planet Earth. The pupils researched forms of wildlife in danger of extinction because of climate change, creating artwork to demonstrate their understanding.

The Revd Dr Paul Glass, Chaplain of Kent College and Methodist Schools Visitor, said: "The Canterbury and East Kent Circuit is the only circuit in the Connexion to have both maintained and residential Methodist Schools within it. This pioneering work between MAST (Methodist Academies and Schools Trust) and MIST (Methodist Independent Schools Trust) schools pushes forward the continued working together that was a key recommendation of the Methodist Education Commission report. It's been fantastic to work with colleagues in All We Can and the three schools in the circuit to create this wonderful opportunity to raise some really important issues."

(Source: Buzz 140)

Sharing 50 years of history
From: Bentley Methodist Church, Doncaster Circuit

A church member has put together 600 photos and records to celebrate Bentley Methodist Church's 50th anniversary year.

Gordon Williams, who has been preaching for 50 years, told the Buzz that a former church member produced the DVD over the course of two years, setting records and images to music and sound effects.

"At present, well over 1,500 photos are in store at Bentley Church," said Gordon, aged 79. "In three months, we plan to submit these, along with the DVD, to  Walsall Local History Centre."

Discussions to found Bentley Church began in the 1940s. At the time, Bentley was a new housing estate built by  Darlaston Council.

Gordon added: "Daphne Eaton was the deaconess who established the church from 1958 to 1964. For many years, the church had well over 100 members, and many more adherents.  Now, due to many factors, we have a loyal core of 15. However, we attract up to 50 people for our social events where an invitation to worship is always  given. In the past two years, two of our Sunday scholars have become ordained ministers."

Sales from the DVD have enabled the church to buy the piano accompaniment for Singing the Faith. 

(Source: Buzz 139)

Nativity Boxes 
From: Sheldon Road Methodist Church, Chippenham Circuit

The congregation of Sheldon Road Methodist Church rose to the challenge when their minister, the Revd David Alderman, handed out 100 cardboard boxes, asking  people to create a nativity scene inside.

The idea was to fill the church premises with cardboard boxes so people could "peek" inside and see the Christmas family.

"I have been amazed at the inventiveness and the way people have embraced the challenge," said David. "People have not stopped talking  about it since I handed out the boxes. One person told me that she had to tell her husband that he couldn't spend that amount of money decorating a  cardboard box! Another person ordered his camels on the internet. Such has been the demand for our nativity boxes that we have had to order over 100 more."

The wider community was invited to make nativity boxes as part of the church Advent preparation day in a joint venture with Christians Against Poverty (CAP).

The church hosted an afternoon, which included interactive prayer stations based on the song "12 days of Christmas" as well as the screening of the film "The  Cross" and craft activities.

(Source: Buzz 138)

The listening ear project
From: Gillingham Methodist Church, Kent

For a year now, Gillingham Methodist Church has been running combined therapy and exercise sessions for anyone with emotional issues. As well as lending a non-judgmental, listening ear, the open-door sessions offer chair exercise classes for people suffering from chronic pains.  

Medway Community Healthcare assisted with the set-up, providing a defibrillator, basic "life support" training for volunteers and 25 therapy balls through their charitable arm, Medway Cares.

Colin Waldock, a local preacher in training, said: "Whilst my wife and I are both experienced physiotherapists, our other volunteers are now coming into their own. Four or five of them have successfully led the relaxation element of the exercise class. Perhaps the most exciting part is that this year we are holding a carol service for the group on a Friday just before Christmas.

"It has been our pleasure to be asked to pray for some folk on occasion. Recently, the questions started to involve God, which gives us the opportunity to share our witness with a group of people who do not attend church regularly or have a faith."

The church has access to two counsellors who also attend the sessions.

(Source: Buzz 137)

Raising the roof
From: Solihull Methodist Church

Over the 2012/13 Connexional year, Solihull Methodist Church in the West Midlands raised a little over £10,000 for the Kebba Jarjou Memorial Nursery School in Wellingara in the Gambia.   

Church members, Joyce and Bryan Fitter, both teachers and regular visitors to the Gambia, were made aware of the need for more shade in the outside area of the school. The money raised was used to improve the toilets and the library as well as purchase solar panels.

Joyce said: "Initially the school was uncertain about these panels but when we were last there, the staff and children were truly delighted. They had saved £483 in the first 10 months since the installation.They could run all their lighting and fans in the classrooms and they had even started hiring out their generator for £5 a day!"

Bryan added: "Often capital projects like this struggle because there is no money for maintenance, but this saving and extra income has allowed them to re-decorate the school and should help with other running expenses."

The Gambian nursery school's technology upgrade has not gone unnoticed by the local community. A neighbouring school, also backed by church sponsors, has followed suit and is now installing its first solar panels.

(Source: Buzz 136)

HeatHack
From: City of Edinburgh Methodist Church

Before the autumn chill descends upon Edinburgh, two churches have joined forces with scientists, engineers and computer programmers in order to bring warmth to cold buildings across the city.

HeatHack is a computing and electronics club formed by the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church and Christ Church Morningside (Scottish Episcopal Church). The club will set up temperature and humidity monitoring in buildings, time-lapse photography (for gas meters and boilers), public displays and phone apps to help communities understand their buildings. There will also be some special engineering challenges on offer, like how to find out whether a pump is operating correctly and where the heat actually goes.

Many community buildings in Edinburgh are old and expensive to heat, and costly to the environment, but this new 'hacker-space' is being formed to understand how to make the best use of the energy that is put into the system.

As well as special events, HeatHack will meet regularly on Tuesday evenings from October. The club welcomes anyone with an interest in electronics, computer programming, or anyone who is curious in how these old buildings are maintained for their use by the community.

Lou Davis, pioneer minister at City of Edinburgh Methodist Church, said: "I'm very excited about the possibilities for HeatHack. Not only will we be finding solutions to people's problems, we'll also be learning lots and having a great deal of fun along the way. I'm really keen to get a soldering iron in my hands and make something!"

Jean Carletta, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh's School of Informatics, is the originator of the HeatHack concept and has been involved in improving comfort and reducing energy use at Christ Church Morningside. "Victorian buildings are fascinating, but complicated," she said. "The internet makes it possible to monitor heating systems and check their performance remotely. HeatHack will speed up improvements by bringing together property owners, users, students, and volunteers to share data and understand their heating problems." 

(Source: Buzz 135)

All aboard for the adventure cruise
From: Wellspring Methodist Church, Cheshire

Wellspring Methodist Church in Congleton, Cheshire, held a successful children's holiday club this summer. The theme for the four days was how Jesus makes a life-changing difference to people.

Illustrations from the Bible were used to demonstrate the way in which Jesus can change people's lives, such as the man with leprosy, the blind Bartimaeus, Zacchaeus and the paralysed man.

John Swinden, said: "Our theme song for the club was 'The Adventure Cruise'. Each day we had an action song, memory verses, and an adventure story about Sid and Basher. The children had a choice of activities, which included loom banding, Lego, crafts, nail painting and games. Drinks, biscuits and toast were readily available and a popular tuck shop operated at the end of each morning."

A memory verse recap, songs, prayers, a quiz and a drama based on Bible stories were also part of each day. The joyful atmosphere continued at the Sunday morning service. The congregation was able to share in the fun through the photos and decorations on display.

John Swinden added: "The 15 helpers taking part enjoyed the club as much as the children. Thoughts are now turning to next year's holiday club in the summer! Wellspring welcomes all to the church on Canal Road in Congleton."

(Source: Buzz 134)

Community Payback helps the Church
From: Kensington Methodist Church, Liverpool

A women's residence in Liverpool has struck up a partnership with a local Methodist church. Adelaide House provides residential support for up to 20 women. The staff work with women who are experiencing difficulties with the law, drugs, alcohol addiction, mental health issues, domestic violence, learning difficulties, self-harm and homelessness.

Once a week around ten women from Adelaide House turn up at  Kensington Methodist Church to do work in the garden as part of their community service orders.

Deacon Flip den Uil said: "Our garden is a small, safe and secluded space, right in a busy part of Liverpool. My main aim is that the church is a safe haven  for everyone. We work together, have coffee or tea together. One of the most important things is that we all sit down in the church and have lunch together.  The women seem to enjoy this so much so that they sometimes bring something they have made at home to share with the whole group."

At a recent coffee morning organised by the church, the women were invited to show off the garden to church members. Deacon Flip den Uil said that the  congregation had renewed its interest in the garden, which has now become more manageable. "I feel privileged to be working with the people of Adelaide  House and that I am able to show that 'the Church' really cares about everyone," he said.

(Source: Buzz 133)

Cumbria welcomes Tamara Wray
From: Cumbria District

Youth President Tamara Wray experienced a warm Cumbrian welcome from the Revd Dr Jonathan Pye, Superintendent of the Kendal circuit, and  Jonny Gios, District Youth Officer, when she visited the Cumbria District in May.

Tamara met some of the people behind the ecumenical detached youth work project in Windermere led by South Lakes Youth for Christ who regularly work with 60  young people every Friday night. 

Jonny said: "I'd never experienced firsthand cross generational work in action until I saw this project. Young people playing the card game Uno with older members of the local  community was inspiring and encouraging to see. Older people can and do make a huge impact working with young people! Thisproject is making a real impact in its community, and is well supported by the local church."

Tamara also visited the Shackles Off Project in Seascale. The project works with the local young people facing rural  isolation and issues such as alcohol.  "I really do love my job," said Tamara. "I had an amazing 24 hours in the Cumbria District. Shackles Off is an absolutely amazing project that empowers young  people to make a positive contribution to the local society and also encourages intergenerational relationships within the community. Thank you so  much Jonny for showing me some of the inspirational youth work which is happening in your District and because the weather was amazing  yesterday this is the way that I will always remember Cumbria!"

(Source: Buzz 132)

Marathon Madness
From: Cornwall Methodist District

Marathon Madness has gripped the Truro Methodist Church and the Cornwall Methodist District; all in support of the Malavela Hope Orphanage in Mozambique.

Earlier this year, the Truro Methodist Circuits' Superintendent minister, the Revd Mark Dunn-Wilson, ran the London Marathon to raise funds for the orphanage. From 24 to 31 May, Mark and David Crocker, a member of the congregation and a teacher at Archbishop Benson School, set out to 'Run the District'.

Over eight days they covered the distance between the Methodist churches across the whole of Cornwall, totalling 226 miles.

Anna Rozen-Willock, church member, said: "Mark and David are both confirmed couch potatoes and have only taken up running in the last year, specifically to  support the orphanage! The Malavela Orphanage in Mozambique is a charity which is close to the hearts of the members of the Truro Methodist Circuit. They  have worked with and for this charity for the last four years, both fundraising and completing mission trips to the orphanage to care for the children and to  maintain and improve the facilities in the orphanage." 

T
he Malavela Hope Orphanage in Mozambique provides a home, hope and a future for 26 orphans in Mozambique; many of whom were orphaned as a result of the AIDS  pandemic and the impact of Mozambique's Civil War on families and the community. The orphanage and its supporters are committed to supporting, educating and  raising these 26 children and providing for their futures.

Along the route there were opportunities for people to hear about the work of the orphanage. Prayer cards were left at each chapel, offering prayers for the  local congregations, Mozambique, the orphanage and the World Church. The children were also involved by way of a Families Fun Run. Cornwall District Chair, the Revd  Steve Wild, accompanied Mark and David for some of the way, as did members of the Truro Congregation who ran the last mile into the Church.

(Source: Buzz 131)

Lent and Lego
From: Chester-le-Street Methodist Church, County Durham

During Lent and Holy Week, the junior members of Chester-le-Street Methodist Church used Lego to discover and learn more about Jesus' journey to the cross.

Each week they built a different scene to depict the key events of Lent, Holy Week and Easter. Starting with three models for the temptation of Jesus by the devil in thewilderness, the children went on to build Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus cleansing the temple, the last supper, the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus' crucifixion and the resurrection.

Karen Perry, church member, said: "It was amazing. The children needed very little instruction or help. They were given a big box of Lego and, using their God-given 
 imaginations, they built some brilliant scenes. Furthermore, it encouraged discussion and learning as well as creativity and co-operation. The children also took great  pleasure in sharing their creations with the rest of the congregation who were incredibly supportive."  

On Easter Sunday, as an outreach initiative, the church held a free Easter Lego event, which included an exhibition of all of the Lego models together with various  Lego associated activities, games and a competition. The activities included making Lego biscuits, Lego masks, Lego Easter bunny bookmarks, Lego straw toppers, Lego  colouring pages, Lego building, Duplo building, Lego wii and playstation games and Lego people creations. The event attracted familiar and new  faces, including new families.

"Lego seems to transcend all ages and it was not only the children but also the adults who engaged with the exhibition and activities," Karen Perry added. "Encouraged by the initial response and the potential of using Lego, we are now considering further outreach initiatives including a Lego club for children, as well as  exploring ways in which we can share the Lego Bible scenes with schools." 

(Source: Buzz 130)

'Rockz'
From: Wadebridge Methodist Church, Cornwall

A Sunday school at Cornerstone Wadebridge Methodist Church in Cornwall has celebrated its one year anniversary. 'Rockz' is a group for school-aged children who meet on Sunday mornings to learn stories about Jesus, make crafts, play lots of games, eat biscuits and generally have lots of fun. 

Suzannah Wood, who started Rockz, said: "I didn't just want to call it Sunday School. Most of the children who come have decided to come along themselves." 

Rockz, which began with three children, now has a regular attendance of 22. Each child at the one year anniversary celebration received a book and a badge.

"As the weather was so lovely we had a photo taken outside the church," explained Suzannah. "What was great was that a lot of their families came to All Age Worship too, and so it was a really big celebration."
 

(Source: Buzz 129)

Grand Book Sale
From: Harlington Methodist Church,  South Bedfordshire Methodist Circuit in the Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire District

For the past 10 years, the members of Harlington Methodist Church have held a Grand Book Sale in the autumn. It started as a fundraising project but has now become a firm event in the village calendar.

After delivering a flyer to every house in the village, church members set about collecting people's book donations, which last year totalled more than 5,000.  

The Grand Book Sale takes place over two days. A group of around 30 members helps to set up the stalls, talk to visitors, serve refreshments and clear up afterwards. During the year, the books are stored in church members' houses. One year 13 copies of the Da Vinci Code were up for grabs.

Norma Bartlett, church member, said: "It's great fun and great fellowship for us. The event brings villagers in to the chapel and it's a joy to see friends, who rarely come inside the premises, chatting and eating together, as well as buying books. The money raised is shared between the chapel and our chosen charity for the year. Last year we raised £1,200 and thoroughly enjoyed doing it." 

(Source: Buzz 128)

Wildlife Church
From: Chorlton Methodist Church, Manchester

Chorlton Methodist Church is in the process of developing an area of its outside space into a community wildlife garden. In response to the 'state of nature  report' launched in 2013 by Sir David Attenborough, which highlighted the plight of British wildlife, the church decided to act.

The new garden will include a variety of nest boxes for different species, a hedgehog home, bat boxes, bug houses, log piles, bird feeders and wild flowers.

Deacon David Gallimore  said: "We are excited about the project which has really caught on with people in the community. We have had support from some local residents  and businesses and we now need more funding to develop the project further and take it on to the next level.

"We have six nest boxes, two with cameras inside, which will be linked back to a computer to monitor nesting activity. We hope to get some other cameras  to monitor feeders. We also hope to use recycled and organic materials as much as possible in the construction of the garden."

The church has launched a wildlife website: www.chorltoncommunitywildlifegarden.org.uk, a YouTubeChannel, Flickr Page and a blog. Their Twitter handle is @WildlifeGarden2  and their email is:  chorltonmethodist@googlemail.com.

The aim of the project is to provide a safe haven for wildlife in the garden and to supply their basic needs (water, food, shelter and a place to  nest/roost), as well as encouraging those who visit the garden to go away enthusiastic about creating wildlife habitats in their own school, workplace or  neighbourhood.

David continued: "We are making links with local schools and other community groups which can come and get involved in the project, hands on, and also see some  of the animals and birds through the cameras on screen, either in real time or images we have recorded on the computer. We are working closely with Hulme  Community Garden Centre, who are drawing up some plans for the wildlife garden, and The Greater Manchester Ecology Unit who have loaned us a Trail Cam. The Trail Cam has already caught night footage of a fox which lives adjacent to the wildlife garden. You can see the video on our YouTube channel."

The Ecology Unit also hope to run some wildlife filming and editing courses at the church.

(Source: Buzz 127)

Les Mis
From: Bladon Junior Church, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

Bladon Junior Church recently showcased the schools' edition of Les Miserables. 

The show ran to six full houses and received standing ovations every night. 
Many patrons compared the performance standard with that of a West End production.

Philip Rumsby, treasurer and property steward, said: "The children put on a truly fantastic show and we are extremely proud of them. It was great fun to rehearse and perform and the audiences loved it."

Last year, Bladon Methodist Church staged the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar with a cast of almost 40 children and young adults from Bladon andneighbouring villages. The church was transformed into a theatre with an ambitious set constructed with scaffolding and the artistic use of stage lighting.

Other previous performances have included The Wizard of Oz, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Annie, The Wind in the Willows, Oliver! and The Pirates of  Penzance. 

(Source: Buzz 126)

Creative Winter
From: Frodsham Methodist Church, Cheshire

This time last year Frodsham Methodist Church was helping Frodsham residents get into the Christmas spirit and giving local artists a chance to exhibit their work. 

Over 200 entries were exhibited at the Creative Winter exhibition curated by Liz and Alun Evans. The event included paintings, photographs, stitchcraft, quilting and patchwork. 

Graham Evans, MP for Weaver Vale, opened the exhibition at the Kingsley Road church. He was joined by 60
 children from Overton CE Primary School who sang Christmas carols for the opening ceremony. Proceeds from the exhibition were shared between the Church and The Amity Foundation - a Christian organisation working to promote education, social services, health and rural development in China.

The Revd Denise Harding said: "It was wonderful to see so much fantastic work on show at our Creative Winter art exhibition. We extend an invitation to all to come and experience something 
 of the real meaning of Christmas at any of our services." 

(Source: Buzz 125)

Harvest
From: Woodlesford Methodist Church, Leeds

Harvest is a big event for the village of Woodlesford and its Methodist Church in the Leeds District of West Yorkshire.

Sisters Joan and Eileen spent over 12 hours creating a multi-sensory harvest display in the chapel on the theme of All Creatures Great And Small, which included a  real beehive (minus the bees) and a fish pond with goldfish.

The Revd James Robinson-Morley said: "The display is the backdrop for the chapel's harvest festival, but more importantly it played host to 360 pupils from  the village primary school next door to the church. Toddlers from the pre-school also came in for a visit."

Teachers and pupils were welcomed to chapel and the harvest space for an interactive time led by Circuit children and families worker, Rachel Beedle,  Methodist minister, the Revd James Robinson-Morley and local resident, chapel member and bee-keeper, Steve Smith.

James Robinson-Morley added: "Buzz readers may like to know that it was the beehive that made a real buzz with pupils as they thought about how we can all be  like busy bees helping and caring for each other, not just at harvest but throughout the year."

Pupils will visit the chapel again for a special Christmas event in December. 

(Source: Buzz 124)

Knitting the Bible
From: Elvet Methodist Church in Durham

Members of Elvet Methodist Church held a week-long exhibition of the Knitted Bible which was on loan to them from St George's United Reformed Church in Hartlepool.

Elvet Methodist Church held a successful preview evening for its members in order that the whole congregation had the opportunity of seeing and owning the project before it went on display. The next morning, the church opened its doors to visitors who were able to walk through the 33 knitted bible scenes, enjoying a coffee as they explored. Entry to the exhibition was free.  Almost 1,000 people came to see the display, raising more than £660 in donations.

Penny Bissell, Wesley Study Centre administrator, said: "The week we had the exhibition was the week which ended with the Durham Miners' Gala and we were all not too sure about having the exhibition open on this day as our church is on route to the Riverside where everyone gathers.  We always open for refreshments on Miners' Gala Day as this is an opportunity to witness through social action all those in need of food, drink and shelter. This year the sun shone and folk were picnicking on our front lawn and church steps - a wonderful sight to see. As always, our members worked their socks off and raised £3,954 for our annual church project, which will go to Durham Youth For Christ's Mentoring Scheme."
 

(Source: Buzz 123)

Church on track
From: Wiggington Methodist Chapel, Oxfordshire

Earlier in the year, Wiggington Methodist Chapel in Oxfordshire set up an electric train set for one of its younger members. The model received such a positive response that the young people decided to put up a much bigger one during August.  

The congregation dug into their attics in order to pool together 100 metres of track at the back of the chapel (all pieces duly marked with Tippex). Visitors were then invited to come in and admire the finished product.

Steve Haley, church member, said: "Apart from the fact that we have had a lot of fun doing it, the train track has had a number of unexpected results: We have found that people who would not normally come into a church were quite happy to work on the model and play. Some train set owners were particularly happy because they were able to showcase parts which had been gathering dust in garages and lofts!"

The chapel's aim was to make contact with people in the surrounding area.  Since the track went on display, new people have been walking through the door. The model is open every weekend until 7 September. 

(Source: Buzz 122)

"Busoasis" - the bright yellow mobile church
From: Calderdale Methodist Circuit 

When a local church in the Calderdale Methodist Circuit closed, the circuit decided to purchase a bus with the money from the sale. The "Busoasis" is a bright yellow double-decker bus that is part of a three year plan to get the church into the community. "Busoasis" will go to various parts of Calderdale each week for a couple of hours at a time, providing a place where people can chat, drink refreshments and take part in activities.

The Revd Paul Welch, Busoasis project manager, said: "This is a wonderful and exciting opportunity for the church to get out in the community. The Busoasis project will also be working in conjunction with youth workers who work with young people hanging around the town centre. We will also use our football cage alongside our work with the bus, particularly with young people."

The bus has a canopy that pulls out over the main door area in good weather, as well as a number of games consoles for people to use. Plans to provide computer training for youth work are also under way. The ex-President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Dr Mark Wakelin (pictured above with the Revd Paul Welch), said he was impressed with the project when he visited in March. 

(Source: Buzz 121)

A Heart for the North East
From: Lanchester Methodist Church, North West Durham Methodist Circuit 

Sunderland Stadium of Light was the gathering place for the regional event: 'ECG - A Heart For The North East'. ECG stands for Equipping, Calling, Going. Around 225 people came together for the day for Bible study, children's activities, youth work, workshops, all-age worship and an interactive evening in the bar area. Worship was led by the talented youth group, KoGs (Kids of God) from Lanchester Methodist Church. 

Elaine Lindridge, Newcastle District Evangelism Enable, said: "All the afternoon workshops were geared to inspire and equip people for mission and outreach. Members of the team facilitating the day were all from the region and had worked hard in order to put on an event that was fun, challenging and encouraging. The all age worship, led by Liz Kent and Jona Sewell, was enjoyable, colourful and certainly engaged people from every generation." 

Elaine Lindridge and Kathryn Stephens led the morning Bible study while Rob Wylie and Carla Hall facilitated the interactive evening event. The day was hosted by Stephen Lindridge, Connexional missioner for Fresh Expressions, and Chris Stephens, a young adults' worker in the Sunderland Circuit. 

During the day, people were encouraged to take up the challenge of joining a mission team to work in various churches around the Newcastle District in the October half term week. 

(Source: Buzz 120)

Be Seen, Be Heard 
From: Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire District

What does a young Methodist look like? A group of 8 to 18 year olds from the Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire District met in parallel to their District Synod in order to come up with an answer. In small groups, the children and young people designed a young Methodist, complete with superhero status in some cases. Their designs illustrated what a young person's hopes and dreams might be, what might worry them and what a young person's ideas and opinions about church might be.

Rachel Quinlan, Participation Project Manager (South East), said: "A lot of young people expressed their positivity at how involved they felt. One group spoke of the creative ideas that their youth worker had used to gather their ideas. Some shared that they felt others, "tell young people what is happening rather than allowing you to decide".  They identified that it was more difficult for those "on the edge of things" and that involvement depended a lot on confidence. And they all agreed that it was important for young people to be asked their opinion more often. They understood the importance of listening and talking to each other, and learning together, in order for church to remain vibrant and engaging."

(Source: Buzz 119)

Donkey Hunt
From: Bristol and South Gloucestershire Circuit 

Over the school Easter break, Bristol and South Gloucestershire Circuit held a donkey hunt in the city centre shopping precinct, Broadmead. 

Around 30 local schools decorated a donkey, each named after a biblical character. The donkeys were then placed in shops along with the biblical story associated with that character. Children were given maps and encouraged to find the names of all the donkeys and then claim a chocolate prize from John Wesley's Chapel, the New Room, which is in the heart of Broadmead. Craft activities were run in the Chapel and over 100 children participated. 

Andrew Dixon, member of Circuit Youth and Children's Ministries committee, said: "Specsavers reported that over 500 children came into their store during the fortnight looking for Bartimaeus!" 

(Source: Buzz 118)

A Journey of Hope
From: Whitby Methodist Church, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire

Whitby Methodist Church on Hope Farm Road in Ellesmere Port was filled with the sound of laughter when more than 150 children from Woodlands and Meadow Primary Schools took part in a Hope Journey.

The Hope Journey covered various aspects of Jesus' life and involved a number of interactive and fun workshops run by volunteers from local churches and students and teachers from the Church of England Academy and the Catholic High School.

Chris Crowder said: "As Easter is fast approaching, all the workshops in this particular part of the Hope Journey were based on the events leading up to Jesus' death on the cross and his resurrection. The children participated in the Last Supper; acted out Palm Sunday; were shown crosses from different parts of the world; heard a witness statement of a Roman Soldier about Good Friday; made their own crosses; built a giant jigsaw cross showing God's love for everyone, wrote prayers and finally planted bulbs to signify new life. The prayers were hung on a prayer tree in the colourful and lively Easter Garden which had been constructed prior to the event by all the children's groups within the Church from the Rangers to the toddlers."  

Everyone agreed that they had spent a thoroughly enjoyable day learning about the Bible in a modern and interesting way. 


(Source: Buzz 117)

Jazz Vespers in Cornwall
From: The West Penwith Methodist Circuit, Cornwall

Ludgvan, a quiet Cornish village near Penzance with stunning views of Mounts Bay and St Michael's Mount, was the venue for a recent Jazz and Gospel weekend. The Sunday afternoon saw a Jazz Vespers in Ludgvan Parish Church. Tony Jasper, author and Methodist preacher, organised the weekend and delivered a sermon. "This could have been Cornwall's first ever mainstream Jazz and Gospel service," he said. 

The band and singers were drawn from people who had attended jazz and gospel workshops led by jazz musician Scott Stroman (pictured) in the Murley Hall at Ludgvan throughout the day. 

Tony Langford said: "It was a memorable weekend. Scott Stroman, a singer, trombonist, composer and teacher, is one of the most versatile and inspiring musicians active in Europe today. He directs the London Jazz Orchestra, The Guildhall Jazz Band, and London's Eclectic Voices Choir. Originally from the USA, he has worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Cobham, Phil Collins and jazz musicians from around the world."

On the Saturday evening there was a concert in Ludgvan Parish Church with Scott Stroman, The Buccas Four Minus One, and a gypsy jazz band from the West Penwith area of Cornwall.

(Source: Buzz 116)

Swimming against the tide: Methodist Church opens second-hand bookstore 
From: Methodist Chapel, Alsager 

Since March 2012 the former Methodist Chapel in Hassall Road, Alsager (part of the Cheshire South Circuit), has been open for second-hand book sales. The chapel is situated on the edge of Alsager just two miles from Junction 16 off the M6 and is now proving to be a useful "Fresh Expression". There are over 25,000 books in subject order: everything from history to modern paperbacks. The Christian section includes books on Methodism, theology, Bible commentaries and worship material. The bookshop supports the work of Englesea Brook Museum and all the profits go to help the Museum. 

The Revd Malcolm Lorimer said: "We have now over 2,500 books on the internet and another 2,000 waiting to go on. Sales are very good and increasing as more books are uploaded. We have volunteers who put books on the net and also others who pick up books, pack them and then send them off. We have been blessed with some very good volunteers who are helping to sort out the books, serve customers and make tea and coffee. When we started we didn't realise how much shelving we would need. We eat it up very quickly and still need more, both for the internet books and the shelves in the chapel. Our aim is to get everything in order on the shelves. We even have the paperback fiction in alphabetical order thanks to a retired librarian."  

A recent donation saw more than 1,000 books on Methodist history added to the collection, including some 200 to 300 chapel histories from all over the country.There was a lot of early and rare primitive Methodist material which has filled up the gaps in the Englesea Brook collection. One donor also gave a large collection of modern detective fiction. 

"One of the delights is never knowing what will come in," Malcolm said. "A carrier bag looked to have just some rather tatty modern paperbacks inside but at the bottom of the bag was a copy of Jules Verne's Ballooning trip to East Africa in 1876! We have also just started a new service: if you are looking for a particular book or books on a subject, then let us know and we will contact you when those books come in." 

(Source: Buzz 115)

Year of the Bible draws to a close 
From: Bedford Hall Primary Methodist School, Leigh, Lancashire 

As part of their focus week on festivals and celebrations of different religions, Bedford Hall Methodist Primary School in Leigh, Lancashire, kicked off the week with a Methodist Day. Pupils were divided into mixed age groups with the top year pupils taking care of the younger ones. During the day the groups circulated through classrooms participating in different activities and aspects relating to Methodism and the Methodist Church.  

Activities included story-telling with the Revd Doreen Hare on the life of John Wesley, a Methodist Millionaire Quiz, craft activities using the John Wesley Prayer as their focus and a new song from Singing the Faith. There was also the opportunity for the young people to compose their own tune to a chorus. 

Val Pownall, a Foundation Governor at the school, said: "Bedford Methodist Church, which adjoins the school, welcomed the children and allowed them time to explore and identify different areas and aspects of the church by joining in a 'treasure hunt'. Everyone involved enjoyed the day's activities. Staff and children alike took a taste of Methodist history away with them. The rest of the focus week was a huge success and, at the end of the week, family and friends were invited to view the children's work, which was quite impressive and extensive."

Deacon Sian Street, school chaplain; Ruth East, Circuit Youth Enabler, and Mrs Longworth, class teacher, all helped to lead the day. 

  
(Source: Buzz 114)

Cribs for Christmas
From: Statford-upon-Avon Methodist Church, Stratford 

Over 100 Christmas nativity cribs of all shapes, sizes and materials formed a focus on Christmas for a three day exhibition at Stratford upon-Avon Methodist Church at the start of Advent. 

Over 90 local primary school children attended and dressed up to listen to the Christmas story and many classes provided artwork on the theme of "Sheep and Shepherds". The event brought many families and visitors into the building throughout the weekend and provided a reminder to all ages of the key players in the Christmas story.

Organiser David Loader said: "The cribs are loaned to us by shops in Stratford. One of the cribs is actually on loan from Shakespeare's New Place. Over 90 children came and heard the Christmas story. That was a powerful time with them."

This year's crib festival will also feature craft workshops for all ages and a children's choir.

(Source: Buzz 113)

MP presents Eco-Congregation Award
From: Solihull Methodist Church, West Midlands

Solihull Methodist took the opportunity of its Harvest Festival to invite Lorely Burt, Solihull's MP, to present the church with the Eco-Congregation Award.

The Greener Church Group is convened by Richard Balmer. "Solihull is the first church of any denomination to win the award in Solihull and the second church after Selly Oak in the new Birmingham Circuit," said Richard. "Award-winning churches need to create awareness of the importance of caring for God's world and demonstrate practical action. Solihull, for example, provides a recycling facility for the 1,000 or so members and non-members who use its premises each month and, among other items, have recycled around 12,000 batteries." 

Lorely Burt praised the church for its commitment and pointed out that the influence they had in the local community was more important than she had as an MP.

 (Source: Buzz 112)

Day of Sport and Faith
From: Saint David's Methodist Church, Barry, Wales 

Saint David's Methodist Church, Barry, in the Vale of Glamorgan Circuit shared their faith with others during a unique day in the Wales Synod. The day began with a football 'chant/call to Worship', in which some church members dressed up in rugby, football and fitness gear to get into the sporting spirit. 'Match Day Order of Worship' programmes were given to those on the back row terraces.

The Revd Peter Taylor said: "World flags and More than Gold bunting were draped all around the church. We also had a demonstration from a karate group who meet weekly in the hall. Some parents and carers came along too."  

The Brownies led sessions in physical exercise and people also joined in a John Hardwick 'Bible Bop' and a half-time Games analysis with appropriate passages from 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Timothy 4:7.   

A Welsh rugby hymn 'Guide me o thou great Redeemer' was a favourite among the crowd as was a display of the Olympic Torch revealed during the prayers of intercession.  

The Revd Peter Taylor continued: "I am biased as I have a passion for linking sport and Christianity, but I think the worship went went really well and was well-received. It was great to have some of the local community involved via community groups who use the church for activities on a regular basis."

(Source: Buzz 111)

Prayer Shawl Ministry
From: Loundsley Green Church in the Sheffield District

Loundsley Green Church Shawl Ministry in Chesterfield began in 2008 after four people decided they wanted to share their faith and creative skills with others. The shawl ministry now has 22 members. At least half of them gather in the small chapel every three weeks on a Thursday morning. Many have connections with other churches but some people have joined from outside the church.

Agnes Tranter is the ecumenical church council secretary at the Anglican/Methodist church in the Sheffield District. She said: "The group opens with a brief reflection, bible reading and prayer and before we close shawls are blessed by each member and arrangements made to take them to people. Shawls, blankets and scarves are given at times of both joy and sorrow and many go to people we do not know. They have been posted around the world and have gone as far as Australia, America, Spain, and Romania. Many have been sent to places in the UK and last Sunday we had an urgent request to bless and  send a shawl to a lady in Devon who was about to undergo serious heart surgery and she was also worried about her unborn grandchild  who was suffering  health problems. The lady rang her mother-in-law, one of our members, before she left for church so we were able to bless a shawl with the congregation and it was posted the next day.

Each baby baptised at our church receives a shawl or a blanket during the service and they have also been given in celebration of marriage. So far over 200 shawls have been distributed."

The group members knit at home. While they knit, they pray for the person who will receive it. Some people crochet the shawls. One disabled member manages to weave tapestry pictures which are made into cushions by another member. 

(Source: Buzz 110)

Helping Heroes During the Olympics 
From: St Andrew's Methodist/United Reformed Church in Skipton, North Yorkshire

St Andrew's Methodist/United Reformed Church in Skipton found itself at the forefront of the recent Olympic Torch relay.

The torch passed the front of the church buildings on Newmarket Street. In response to the large crowds gathering in the streets, the members of St Andrew's opened up the site to the public, offering free teas and buns, entertainment, and a vantage point from which the torch could be viewed. It was estimated that between 800 and 1,000 drinks and buns were served in two hours.

Donations made on the day came to more than £300. The collection was sent to the Help For Heroes, a charity founded in October 2007 to help the wounded servicemen and women returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

(Source: Buzz 109)

Diamond Jubilee Camp 
From: Easingwold Methodist Church

Lads from the 12th, 18th and 22nd Boys' Brigade Companies took part in a special Diamond Jubilee Camp at the Easingwold Outdoor Centre.Throughout the weekend the boys took part in some wacky games, a treasure hunt, cooking their tea on the camp fire, a trip to the Waterwold Swimming Centre, a special meal out, a trip to see Dark Rising at the cinema - not to mention visiting Easingwold Methodist Church on Sunday morning.

Robert Batty said: "The lads joined with others from the 12th Halifax - New Hope Boys' Brigade and 22nd Halifax - Lee Mount Boys' Brigade. The boys had a great weekend at a great site at the Easingwold Outdoor Centre. They really enjoyed themselves and we hope to go back to the site in a few years."

(Source: Buzz 108)

God in our everyday lives 
From: Spondon Methodist Church in Derby

Last year the people of Spondon Methodist Church had an away day which they held at the Methodist Church in Holloway near Cromford. The aim of the away day was to discover how the church could put more of God in the things that it is already doing, rather than finding more things to do which might make people think, "How are we going to fit all these extra things in?"

Lots of ideas came out of the day, such as giving refreshments away during fundraising events at the local village hall, or having a prayer table at village hall fairs. One big idea was that, instead of holding a service at church during the village festival, the church should go to the festival as a whole community. This proved to be an excellent decision as people provided coffee and tea along with games and activities for children throughout the day.

Steward Barry Liggett said: "There was absolutely no charge for anything that we provided; we merely gave away flyers telling people about our church. The effect was that our nativity and other Christmas services were far more well-attended than they had been for a very long time.

"One of the issues which emerged at our 'away day' was the fact that as a church we needed more discipleship training; we felt that we wanted to grow in ways which would help us to be able to share our faith with others. From this idea we decided to run the 'Step Forward' course and it has had a phenomenal  effect on some people within the groups. We held the first section every week for four consecutive weeks. At the start of the course people felt reluctant to take on leadership roles but even after the first week that all changed and group members suddenly became eager to lead a section the following week. We really do recommend this course to anyone who like us wishes to develop their congregation in the area of witnessing faith."  

(Source: Buzz 107)

Family Fun and Sports Day 
From: Epworth Old Rectory in Lincolnshire

Epworth Old Rectory held a family fun and sports day inspired by the forthcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games. Adults and children had a great time 'hooking the duck', 'splatting the rat', kicking footballs into goals and enjoying the bouncy castle. There was a Wesley-themed treasure hunt which took participants all around Epworth, counting the buttons on the statue of Mr Wesley, reading the plaque on the Kilham memorial church and finding the bust of John Wesley in the antique shop window. There were also many stalls, including a very popular chocolate tombola, and a face painting stall offered by the 1st Belton Girl Guides and Rangers. 

Claire Potter, Development Manager Epworth Old Rectory, said: "The event soldiered on through a hail storm and continuing showers of rain through the afternoon. We had sports day races on a newly created race track on the Rectory croft, so children in different age groups negotiated obstacles, balanced potatoes on spoons, worked with a friend in the three-legged race and sprinted to glory. Medals were awarded for every race by Councillor Margaret Lindley, Chairman of Epworth Town Council. There was even a space-hopper race and a Mums and Dads' race." 

Visitors also enjoyed the touring exhibition, 'Wesley and Well-Being', which was in Epworth during April.  

(Source: Buzz 106)

Messy Church 
From: Asbourne Methodist Church in Derbyshire

Ashbourne Methodist Church in Derbyshire learned that love isn't all about the mushy stuff you see in card shops around Valentine's Day when they held a Messy Church day during half-term. 

A team of adults and young people ran activities such as painting glass pendants, decorating cards with heart-shaped buttons, making cupcakes and cookies, scribbling messages on a "graffiti wall" about the things they love, lighting candles for people who need to feel God's love and using 'Pray Dough' to create the shapes of things they love. 

John Hurford said: "We had a great time thinking about all kinds of love. We had everything from 'I pray for Daddy' to 'thank you for hippopotamuses'! We were also able to decorate beautiful heart-boxes and fill them with treats, and we did a survival course. We learned that caring for others and taking responsibility when others are in need is just as much a part of loving people as making cards that say 'I love you'!"

The team of youngsters also created a ship-wreck survival scenario where people had to forage for bamboo canes, tie them together and cover with a handy parachute to make a shelter. Participants also learned how to treat and dress wounds, sign 'SOS' in Morse code with torches, bake basic bread with minimal rations, and make rafts with old bean cans and string.

(Source: Buzz 105)

Holiday at Home
From: Stratford-upon-Avon Methodist Church

In his presidential address at last year's Conference the Revd Leo Osborn talked about churches' involvement in pastoral care. For the third year in succession, Stratford-upon-Avon Methodist Church organised a successful week-long "Holiday at Home" programme. It was aimed at elderly people who are unable to get away for a break for whatever reason and who find holiday times long and lonely.

Thirty over 65s - the eldest being 98 - attended this year's Holiday at Home and many of those people were non-church-goers. The theme was 'Kaleidoscope: a world of colour'. Transport and meals were provided each day as well as a programme of varied activities and a "Thought for the Day". 

Gillian Loader said: "The outreach and caring work with some of the elderly members continues each month when they are able to meet on a Sunday after church service for a Friendship Lunch and once a month for Saturday Brunch. The last Sunday afternoon of the month 12 very housebound elders are collected and transported by a team of volunteer drivers for Sunday afternoon tea at a different host's home each month. This initiative with the Churches Together in Stratford has been in operation since November 2009 and uses the framework of the national organisation Contact the Elderly - a valuable project which reaches out to housebound members of the community. This project also enables volunteers from the various denominations to work together." 

(Source: Buzz 104)

Love and Friendship
From: Ponteland Methodist Church, Newcastle 

Youngsters learned a little more about what it means when grown-ups get married when they took part in a special event held at Ponteland First School in Newcastle. A pretend "wedding" took place betweenCarla and Jack, Year 1 pupils at the school, who promised friendship to each other in front of their friends.

Hannah Middleton, a family worker at PontelandMethodist church, said: "We enabled the children to understand this Christian celebration. The bride and groom exchanged friendship bracelets and promised friendship to each other."

Children took the parts of parents of both the bride and groom, best man, four bridesmaids, three page boys, and two grooms. Carla and Jack's beautifully attired classmates threw confetti. Adult guests were seated in the balcony and the wedding reception included a five tier cake. A chauffeur driven car, flowers and photographs were provided by Ponteland Methodist church. 

(Source: Buzz 103)

Writing the Bible by hand 
From: East Durham Circuit 

Over two hundred children from thirteen schools contributed to a hand-written copy of Mark's Gospel. The schools are all primary schools in the Houghton le Spring area of Durham. The project started in the Summer Term of 2010. Feint ruled paper was provided for each chapter and the completed chapters were bound professionally to produce the Gilpin Gospel. 

John Wall, Active Supernumerary in the East Durham Circuit, said: "We used the name Gilpin after an Anglican cleric of the 16th Century. Bernard Gilpin was Rector of Houghton le Spring and was known as the Apostle of the North. He was a generous man who provided a roast ox every fortnight for his parishioners. He was active in opposing clerical slackness and founded a Grammar School in Houghton."

The completed Gilpin Gospel is being used extensively in the schools that produced it and also in local churches.

(Source: Buzz 102)

Year of the Bible draws to a close
From: Great Lumley Methodist Church 

Over 200 school children took part in a Bible Fresh event fe
aturing a pirate treasure hunt at Great Lumley Methodist Church. When the children arrived they were given a pirate map which they followed to different tables hosting activities such as making parrot fridge magnets and pieces of eight out of chocolate coins. They also learned how to write their name in Greek and put honey on biscuits decorated with a Hebrew letter. The event included a Bible story and quiz. Before they went home, the children collected words that said: "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" - a Biblical reference to the path leading to the treasure chest! 


Joanne Fearn said: "Everyone who came received a treasure bag which included a copy of a Gospel and a Bible story as well as some honey. It was all very exciting stuff and the children who came enjoyed it as did the teachers who wanted to know what we would be doing next!"

(Source: Buzz 101)

The Christmas Story
From: Wesley Memorial Methodist Church in Epworth

The Wesley Memorial Methodist Church in Epworth has held displays of nativity sets from around the world in order to tell the Christmas story. The displays have accompanied the life size nativity stable with real animals constructed in the church grounds for the three weeks leading up to Christmas. An open invitation is extended to anyone who wants to share in the display. For the past two years this nativity celebration has been extended to the local shops as the church is situated in the High Street.

The Revd David Leese said: "The butcher, the baker, the post office, photographer, the local newspaper office - all together 21 shops in the High Street display from one to three nativity sets in their window at Christmas. This generates interest and witness to the real meaning of Christmas in the community."

(Source: Buzz 100)

Squash and Psalms
From: Skelmanthorpe Methodist Church, Denby Dale and Clayton West Circuit

Members of Skelmanthorpe Methodist Church set up a display outside the Savoy Squash Club in the village and invited passers-by to stop and write a few verses of a Psalm. People were not shy about taking part and 34 members of the public volunteered to put pen to paper.

The Psalm writing session was Skelmanthorpe Methodist Church's contribution to the Methodist Church project to produce a hand-written Bible to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible this year.

(Source: Buzz 99)

Schoolchildren enjoy learning about the Bible
From: Knights Templar Anglican Methodist School, Watchet, Somerset

On 9 June the children at Knights Templar School spent a whole day learning about the Bible, thanks to a joint initiative by local churches, reports Revd Jane Sperring.

An exciting variety of ways of learning were used. Justine, our children and family worker, ran games based on Paul's journeys and Andy, a member of the Baptist church, used The Big Bible to tell the children about the Bible itself. Jane, superintendant minister of West Somerset, talked about how precious the Bible is and the children decorated their own mini Bible with jewels. Bethan, the assistant vicar at Watchet, told Bible stories through the use of colouring pictures and giant collages, Carl, the Baptist minister in Watchet taught the children songs and Clive, our community worker, got the children to illustrate the story of Noah's ark through drama. A great time was had by all and we now hope to take this event to other schools in our area.

(Source: Buzz 98)

Fete visitors get arty for Bible anniversary
From: The Methodist Church in North Lynn

Hundreds of local people, including most of children at Eastgate Primary and Highgate Infants School, have been involved in hand writing verses of a giant, two feet high, copy of St. Luke's Gospel as part of the 400th anniversary celebration of the King James Bible this year. On Sunday 17 July, it was the turn of St Edmund's Primary when the North Lynn Hand-Made Gospel Team was at the school's Summer Fete, encouraging visitors to get arty.

As well as writing verses, children, parents, staff and other visitors, such as volunteer SOS first-aiders, had the opportunity to get involved in some of the gospel's art-work. The gospel will include many illustrations about some of the stories in the book of Luke. It will also include illustrated letters and 'carpet' pages, like some of the most ancient English Celtic gospel books.

At the fete, work began on carpet pages to illustrate two of the gospel's most well-known stories - 'the big catch of fish' (Luke 5) and 'the calming of the storm' (Luke 8).The fish were made using potato cuts and the finished page caught up in netting. The stormy lake is made by collage - the boat carrying Jesus and his frightened disciples in the middle of very choppy waves.

North Lynn Churches' community worker, Angela Jenner, said: "It was quite a stormy day on Sunday! Although we were under the cover of a gazebo in the playground, we had to keep rescuing our work from the heavy showers. It was great fun, though. We even managed to keep everything dry and ended the afternoon with some wonderful art-work."

(Source: Buzz 97)

Small in size - huge in heart
From: Springhill Methodist Church, Brownhills and Willenhall Circuit

The chapel measures 24 feet by 24 feet and there are 8 members of the congregation, yet the enthusiasm of this church should be an encouragement to other small congregations. As David Evans, one of the members says, "When you stand up straight for the Lord, never be surprised at how tall you are".

David reports that the church is actively involved in local issues and concerns. Each member has their personal "visiting" ministry, be it support for families who are grieving or who have relatives in hospital or in keeping contact with people by phone or sending flowers. The church also contributes articles to the circuit magazine, sending copies to email contacts in this country and abroad, viewing this as part of its outreach.

Although few in number, that doesn't stop worship from being a joyful time. As David says, "We really enjoy singing our heads off for every hymn whether it be from Hymns & Psalms or Mission Praise, in our Sunday Service.

"We have been running a very active Bible study course for a few years and as part of the 400th anniversary celebrating the King James Bible, we recently used a modern copy of Wesley's Study Bible. We also exhibited an old family Bible, printed in 1769 in Birmingham, containing family records from 1801. The old Bible will remain on display for a few months so that those visiting us for our Festival of Praise, Harvest service and Christmas carol service, will be able to see it. Our deacon's son was intrigued to see such an old Bible and amazed to learn that every page was type set and every image block printed.

"We try to be outward-looking and welcoming and it is often remarked by visiting preachers that there is a deep spiritual feeling and a warmth of fellowship here. Our front wall poster, in big black letters on a white background, so that passing motorists can read it, clearly says ' Enjoy life to the full with Jesus'. That's just what we want to say to everyone."

(Source: Buzz 96)

One stop prayer shop at Open Door
From: Paisley Methodist Church

A shop unit that Paisley Methodist Church could not lease out has become a point of outreach. Having given the shop a makeover, it has now become a place of prayer in the town - quiet and welcoming.

Angela Dobbins, lay voluntary pastoral assistant, said "We offer a friendly chat, tea, coffee and prayer. People call in wanting to talk over personal anxieties and we are ready to listen. More often than not, a listening ear is what is most needed and reassurance to know that God is with them in their situation and that they are special to God."

Angela reports that one passer-by who called to ask for prayer for her daughter is now part of a church group doing the Disciple Bible study course.

"Open Door is staffed by four volunteers three mornings a week. As God continues to use us, we pray each day for the Spirit's discernment that we may be a blessing to all who call", said Angela.

(Source: Buzz 95)

Christian Controversies Conference 
From: The Chester and Stoke on Trent District

To celebrate RE (Religious Education) month and as a contribution to the Biblefresh initiative, the Chester and Stoke District and Chester Cathedral jointly hosted a conference for GCSE and A level students. The conference supported students' revision in theology, ethics, philosophy and RE for their forthcoming GCSE, AS and A Level examinations and helped them engage with some controversial issues.

The Conference, held in the Cathedral, for 200 students from six Cheshire schools, heard a keynote address from the Revd Joanna Jepson who spoke passionately about abortion rights and the position of women in society, both historically and currently. Joanna raised many points to challenge the textbook scenarios and preconceptions of the students, including abortion after rape and on medical grounds.

A level students worked together to discuss Joanna's address and in seminar sessions on business ethics, led by Methodist Professor David Clough, atheism and religious language, led by Dr Tony Moodie, Principal of Hartley Victoria College, and homosexuality where they discussed the legal conflict between the human rights of faith adherents and individuals in civil partnerships, led by Dr Paul Middleton of Chester University.

Meanwhile GCSE students discussed Joanna's talk in school-based groups before joining other schools to participate in seminars focusing on marriage, led by the Revd Nicola Price-Tebbutt, Lecturer at HVC, how to make moral choices, led by Carl Dodd, Regional Youth Coordinator for the Methodist Church, and crime and conversion, led by the Revd Billy McCurrie, Baptist Minister.

During the lunch break the students were offered the opportunity to pray, be still and reflect on what they had heard.

The organisers - Heather Staniland, District Development Enabler and Nicola Preston, Education Officer at Chester Cathedral were grateful to the speakers, teachers, chaplains and students for their input to a successful and engaging event.

(Source: Buzz 94)

Church leaders pray for victims of cuts in public spending
From: The Leeds District

Leeds City Council has to make savings of £150m, meaning that one in six employees risk losing their jobs. Cuts like these are being made across the country and the most vulnerable in society will, inevitably, suffer most as vital services are axed due to cuts in grants to voluntary sectors.

Being concerned about the impact of the cuts, the Revd Dr Liz Smith, Chair of the Leeds District, joined with the other Church Leaders in West Yorkshire for a specially written service at St Anne's Catholic Cathedral to pray for the most vulnerable in society. Before the service, three of the church leaders, the Revd Dr Liz Smith, Rt Revd John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds and the Revd Mgr Michael McQuinn, Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Leeds, presented a copy of the prayer to Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Leeds City Council.

Regional church leaders from ten major Christian denominations were present at the service and prayed that 'we may hear the cries of those deprived of work… know the anger and the angst of people who feel pushed to the margins by those with wealth and power'. The prayer can be found on the West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council (WYEC) website.

Speaking on behalf of the organisers, WYEC, the Revd Dr Clive Barrett said, "The churches share a concern for the most vulnerable people in our society. This prayer is for the people who will lose vital services, people who will lose their jobs, and those who have the difficult task of deciding which cuts to make. In prayer and practice, the Church leaders are showing we must take responsibility for people in greatest need, for these are the people who are being hit the hardest."

(Source: Buzz 93)

Information eXchange
From: Hyde and Denton Circuit

Following a request at a local preachers' meeting for better information, John Gosling explains how he is aiming to meet that need.

I volunteered to produce "something" extracted from various sources, including The Buzz, Methodist E-News, MRDF newsletters, Methodist news announcements made on the Methodist Church website etc. The "something" became Information eXchange. It also includes a review of a book by one of the preachers - not necessarily 'theological', and two of the four to date are novels. No overt advertising is used and items of interest to all church members are included. Articles contain links for further information and directions on subscribing to original sources. Obviously, the selection of items is a personal one, but is influenced by what might be of interest in the circuit and district (Manchester and Stockport).

So far, this has been a quarterly production, sent to all circuit preachers and worship leaders, by e-mail where possible, together with a few paper copies, of no more than four sides of A4, placed in each of the churches in the circuit.

(Source: Buzz 91)

Kilsyth churches unite in offering Healing Rooms and prayer
From: The Scotland District

Kilsyth has experienced revivals in the past and there continues to be a calling on Christians in the area to both pray and share together. Bearing witness to this is the town coat of arms which contains a Bible representing the great Christian heritage which has been passed from generation to generation and the town motto of "Spe Expecto" (look forward with hope).

Especially over recent years churches in the area have been united in looking forward with hope as they have shared in witnessing their faith and working together in outreach initiatives. One of those initiatives has been Healing Rooms. 

Healing Rooms Scotland's mission is to have healing rooms in as many towns and villages as possible with the purpose of providing a private place where anyone can receive healing prayer for physical, emotional and spiritual conditions. A Healing Room has been operating in a Kilsyth cafe on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday in the evening from 7-9pm. Excellent training is provided for those wishing to participate. This has involved people from all the churches in the town who have gained so much by sharing in this ministry and witnessing to all who come for prayer.

From this close working relationship has come another venture. Kilsyth & District Churches Working Together hosted a week of prayer at Kilsyth Community Church called The Big If, (2 Chronicles 7:14 - "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray").The church was open from 8am to 10pm, Monday to Friday. Several areas were set up within the church where people could spend time in prayer. There was an area designated for praying for the local community and those in leadership within the town and area, an area to pray for Scotland and a prayer labyrinth in the sanctuary which included a children's corner. There was also a quiet room where people could draw aside to spend time with the Lord and a diary which they were invited to write down what they felt God was saying. Reading the diary was inspiring. Over 200 people attended, many returning for second and third visits. Representatives from all the churches helped to organize the week and to steward the church during opening times.

The churches of the Kilsyth area continue to work together and look forward with hope as they share in what the Lord is doing, believing that this is the beginning of new and wonderful outreach.

(Source: Buzz 90) 

Ladies of Bromley enjoy an evening of pampering
From: Bromley Common Methodist Church, Orpington and Chislehurst Circuit 

"Ladies Night Out on 16 October was a great success, with 62 ladies watching a Travelling Trends fashion show (with clothes modelled by four of our own church members) and enjoying pamper treatments: manicures, Indian head massage and reflexology. Ladies also had the chance to sample and purchase some delicious cakes, have a Mary Kay makeover, and buy some jewellery, designed and made by Zoe Hayes our Acting Girls' Brigade Captain. And we also raised over £350 for church funds", reports church family worker, Andrena Palmer.

The idea of the Ladies Night Out was to invite all the ladies from the Bromley Common area to come and have a good night out - no men, just pampering, fun and fashion! We saw this as an opportunity to show people that church is not scary - that Christians are in fact quite 'normal' and give them a chance to see the church building in a different way - not many people have enjoyed an Indian head massage, reflexology or a manicure in front of a pulpit! We had candles and soft lighting around, as well as soothing music, so it was a very tranquil space and it looked truly peaceful and beautiful.

Postcard invitations were printed and widely distributed. As well as church members, we invited all the Churches Together in Bromley Common, parents/ carers at the church's Girls' and Boys' Brigade and Carer and Toddler Group. Flyers were sent to local schools to be put into each child's book bag. Posters were displayed in our church rooms inviting the community groups who use the building and, of course, personal friends and family were invited too. We set up an 'event' on Facebook and emailed as many people as possible, as well as inviting people during text and phone conversations.

Ladies Night Out proved to be a fantastic fundraising opportunity and Andrena received a lot of positive feedback. As the resulting mix of those who attended the event was around 60% church members and 40% non church members, she also considers that this was great way to attract people who would not normally be in church.

(Source: Buzz 89) 

Art proves to be a great way to relax
From: Poynton Methodist Church, Hazel Grove and Poynton Circuit

Artist, Lynn Allaby, reports on a weekly group, called ArtRelax, that she set up in her local church.

Our projects are varied and original, offering a wide variety of skill opportunities, some of which we did not know we had! People can come to ArtRelax on a drop-in basis so the timescale for projects must be flexible, as many people have other responsibilities that prevent them from attending every week.

We are currently creating a textile image of the Nativity to be displayed in church over the Christmas period. This is a team project with the full-sized template made by myself and the group working from a coloured small-scale example, applying pieces of fabric to create the colours.

Last Easter we created a stained glass effect 'resurrection' window which was applied to a window in church. The group traced, then cut, shapes from coloured cellophane and applied them to the sticky side leaving some areas blank so that these could adhere to the window. We could not have known just how effective it was until it was in position. We were delighted to find that the sun shone directly through the window lighting up our design and filling the church with colour. We also created a 'crucifixion' window design to appear on the opposite side of the church where, appropriately, the sun did not shine.

Some of our members are well versed in the art of making greetings cards and offer guidance in making cards to sell in the church foyer, using a display and honesty box. We have raised significant sums over a period this way and donated profits to various charities.

Last Christmas the artists among us created images reflecting the Christmas story, which were scanned into my computer and printed out individually along with a suitable greeting from each artist. These were compiled into a 'book', with blank pages at the back where members could write their greetings to one another, and this was hung in the church foyer.

We have been fortunate in receiving many donations of materials for the project. Where possible, we try to use recycled or donated materials to keep outlay to a minimum and respect our planet's resources. We request a 50p donation each week from members to cover tea, coffee and essential materials.

ArtRelax has proved to be a valuable fellowship opportunity as we feel closer to one another in our church family. It is amazing how troubles and concerns are discussed freely as we work, along with much hilarity and fun. Our hope now is to attract those outside the church to share in our friendship and team-produced artwork projects.

(Source: Buzz 88) 

Celebrating diversity across the Methodist Church
From: Methodist churches across the Connexion

This year, for the first time, the Church's Statistics for Mission Report features data on language, ethnicity, Fresh Expressions and the number of churchgoers engaged in children and youth ministry.

The report showed that at least 89 churches ran worship or fellowship in a language other than English or Welsh in 2009. Among the languages spoken were Afrikaans, Akan, Cantonese, Portuguese, Lingala, Eritrean, Farsi, Fijian, French, Ga, Hindi, Korean, Ibo, Indian, Kerala, Krio, Malayalam, Mandarin, Mende, Filipino, Punjabi, Shona, Yoruba, Swahili, Tamil, Twi, Fanti, Urdu, Vietnamese and Zimbabwean languages.

Revd John Chambers, a minister at Walworth Methodist Church in London, said: "We have four fellowships in our church: Sierra Leone, Ghanaian, Zimbabwean and Nigerian. During the year, each fellowship will hold a service; parts of which will be given in a language that many people in the Church will understand.

"It's great because it acknowledges the diverse nature of our church. Holding fellowships in this way has helped our church to grow. We have 500 members. People will come to our church knowing that their ethnic tradition will be acknowledged."

The report also provided more detail on local Fresh Expressions than has ever been collected before, identifying 893 Methodist fresh expressions. Cafe Church, Messy Church, Third Place and cell group were the most popular.

A count charting Methodist participation in local ecumenical partnerships demonstrated the high proportions of Methodists in these ecumenical churches. Seven per cent of all Methodists (16,500 people) belong to an ecumenical congregation.

Dr Christopher Stephens, Research Officer, said: "We are collecting these statistics each year to get an accurate picture of who and what we are as a Church in the 21st century. The report will enable us to support local churches in their mission needs and help congregations do the same. This report reveals that we are diverse and modern. We have a huge number of Fresh Expressions and a wide breadth of worshipping communities.

"I think this report will surprise some readers, including Methodists. It demonstrates clear areas of growth and a rich diversity that may reflect a Methodist Church that is different from the general preconception."

(Source: Buzz 87) 

Church hopes to expand popular youth project
From: Moston Methodist Church, Manchester

"Our youth project has been successfully running for two years and we are now hoping to expand", reports John Elston, secretary of the project support group.

The aim of the project is to make a difference to the lives of the young people of the area and has the practical support of the Manchester Youth Service. The church employs Carol-Ann to work part time with 11-18 year olds in the Moston area and she currently runs sessions on the church premises on Tuesday and Saturday evenings.

We have a small support group, appointed by the church council, to oversee the project and sometimes the young people attend these meetings. We didn't begin the project to specifically target young people as potential worshippers but if this happens it will be a very welcome bonus. We do, of course, invite members of the project to join in activities that are organised for the church family.

Since the project started Carol-Ann has worked with over 100 young people of whom around 90 have been members of a street dance project which is running in partnership with Sports Development. The youth project also worked in partnership with Northwards Housing on their 'Shimmer & Shine' project, developing calendar images and our project was one of those featured in the calendar. The project is also part of the North City Youth Activity Group (YAG) providing informal, educational and stimulating activities for young people in and around the Moston area.

The young people play a huge role in the project. They were successful in raising £10,000 for equipment, including a new carpet for the room they use. They enjoy full involvement and support each other to make decisions and help run the sessions in a very constructive manner.

It was encouraging that the President of the Methodist Conference and the Chair of the Manchester and Stockport District have both visited the project, as has our local MP who will soon be returning to see the progress on one particular project.

Funding for the project was won by the church from the Manchester Methodist Circuit in a bidding process for a period of two years. We are now in the process of trying to obtain grants to extend this successful project.

(Source: Buzz 86)
 

3,000 Isle of Man Christians unite as 'One in the Park'
From: The Isle of Man District

Christians of all traditions on the Isle of Man came together on Fathers' Day for what was probably the biggest ecumenical celebration ever seen on the Island. This historic event culminated in church leaders signing a Covenant for Mission.

Over 3,000 people gathered in a massive tent in Douglas that had been erected for a weekend rock festival and kindly offered to us, free of charge, by the festival organisers. The theme of the celebration was, unsurprisingly, that of unity. Worship was led by 'Mannifest', a local band, and reflection was provided in drama and dance by members of the Island's Scripture Union team. The atmosphere was tremendous, with a real sense of joy that God's people had come together in this way, and longed to move forward together.

Relations between the churches on the Island have been good for many years and tribute should be paid to the work of Churches Together in Mann over recent decades. But the last few years have seen a change of pace, and a real desire for greater levels of commitment and co-operation between the churches - hence the Covenant.

The Covenant for Mission takes as its starting point the faith in Jesus that the Churches have in common. It celebrates the diversity within the body of Christ, and confesses the sin of division. It then commits the Churches to working together in five main areas: making Jesus known; serving human need; overcoming divisions in the body of Christ; the call to exercise the gifts God has given to us; and recognising that we are stronger together, the commitment to listen to and learn from one another. As its title suggests, the focus of the Covenant is outward-looking, with its call to the Churches to look to the needs of the Island and the wider world.

Bishop Robert Paterson, the Anglican Bishop of Sodor and Mann, led the part of the service in which the Covenant was signed and he was joined by representatives of all the denominations; Methodist, Baptist, Elim, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army, and the United Reformed Church. The Revd Malcolm Peacock, Chair of the Isle of Man District, signed on behalf of the Methodist Church. After the service others were able to add their own signatures.

On an island of 80,000 people, a gathering at 9.30am on a Sunday morning of 3,000 people was a sign that the Church is very much alive and kicking. Pastor John Powell of the Elim Church reminded us all, as we left, of God's promise in scripture, that where there is unity it commands a blessing. Early in the service a seagull found its way into the tent and flew for a while over the heads of those gathered: maybe a dove wasn't readily available! We look forward to what God has in store for us in the future.

(Source: Buzz 85) 

Knitting new church communities together
From: Whitby Methodist Church, Wirral Circuit

Two years ago Whitby Methodist Church in Ellesmere Port formed a Knit and Natter Group in the hope of attracting new members into the church community. "However, we had no idea what blessings God had in store for us", reports organiser, Mrs Chris Crowder.

"We now have over 50 members aged between 4 and 90, most of whom meet every Tuesday afternoon in term time from 1.30pm-3.00pm in the church, to share conversation, listen to the occasional speaker, knit and crochet for charity, eat home-made cake, and drink tea and coffee.

All our meetings end with short devotions which, initially, we were rather nervous about, but how wrong we were! Although the majority of our members are non-church goers, they readily ask for prayer, acknowledge answers to prayer and several have become involved in church activities and attend services. We have also inspired another five groups to start (three locally and two further afield) and are in the process of helping a further two groups get off the ground - all follow our pattern and have a time of prayer at the close of their meetings.

Over the past two years we have posted off more than a quarter of a tonne of knitted jumpers, hats, scarves and blankets to people in need at home and abroad: the homeless, the lonely, the needy, the ill and the bereaved of Chester and Ellesmere Port and also to South Africa, Haiti, Kosovo, Nepal, Kenya, Bulgaria and Eastern Europe, as well as having the pleasure of being able to knit for children by name at an orphanage in Swaziland. The postage is always covered by the donations made by the members (just like the Feeding of the Five Thousand - there is always enough) and not only do the members knit and crochet for charity, they have also organised collections of clothes and toothbrushes for Kosovo, and food and aid for Haiti.

The knitting is not only warmly received by those for whom we knit, but also has a therapeutic effect on the knitter. 'I'd been ill for 6 years, but Knit and Natter has brought me out again: it's better than hospital', said one member.

Knit and Natter isn't just a knitting club making clothes for charity - it is a fresh expression of church which works on many different levels, giving people a purpose in life and sending God's love around the world."

(Source: Buzz 84) 

Baildon congregation saves money and C02 emissions
From Baildon Methodist Church, Bradford North Circuit

Baildon Methodist Church, a certified Eco-congregation, is saving money and helping to reduce global warming. Despite the 70,000 users a year of the church and its Wesley's Community Centre, the church's carbon footprint is becoming smaller.

In 2006 the church started giving its caretaker a percentage bonus for energy saved. In 2008 energy saving equipment was installed; and in 2009 this continued with the fitting of weather compensation controls on the two outdated and inefficient boilers, insulating ceilings and cutting out draughts. This was achieved with the help of grants of over £9,000 from the Shipley Area Panel and Bradford Environmental Action Trust [BEAT].

In January 2010 Bradford Full Council unanimously passed a motion setting a target of 40% reduction in C02 emissions for the district by 2020 over those of 2005. It was among the first Councils in the country to do so. Radical change is needed. So Baildon Methodist Church is transferring its electricity account to the RSPB Green tariff of Southern Electric on 1 June 2010. This tariff means that Southern Electric put into the grid an equivalent amount of renewably generated electricity to that which the church draws out. So, from 2010-11, the tonnes of C02 emitted because of the church's electricity usage will be zero.

Members and users contribute to a Green Fund if they fly, drive or emit carbon dioxide from their heating systems. This provides seed money for future measures to reduce the church's C02 emissions. Baildon Methodist Church is constantly informing its users of how it is carrying out its mission as an Eco-congregation and asking them to support it.

(Source: Buzz 83)

Learning for Pleasure is top class
From Sharnbrook Methodist Church, Bedford Circuit

Looking for a way to get more people involved in your local church? Why not follow our inspiring lead and set up a Learning for Pleasure initiative?

Since 2006, we've been running the popular scheme, for older people. It boasts an array of classes including gardening for the green fingered, digital photography and art for those with a creative bent. For fitness fanatics, there are also sporting options such as table tennis. The scheme has 60 members, from all sections of the community, with an outreach project attracting 90 eager participants. And it's fantastic value for money at only £10 for a yearly membership!

As Jenny Deacon, chair of our Learning for Pleasure management committee, says: "Learning for Pleasure has been, and continues to be, a resounding success. The groups meet in Methodist premises and so we have an important link with a very diverse group of people who, if not worshipping with us, may subliminally be aware of the work our church does in the village and beyond."

(Source: Buzz 82)

Learning the Psalms led Kate to success
From Thornton Methodist Church, North Lancashire District

Kate Chard (12) represented the Blackburn Diocese at the Cranmer Awards which are run by the Prayer Book Society. Kate and her family attend Thornton Methodist Church on the Fylde Coast in Lancashire. Kate faced stiff competition from 15 other finalists who had travelled from all over the UK to Charterhouse in London. After a word perfect recitation of her chosen Psalms, 113 and 115, and a wait of over an hour for the judges' deliberations, it was announced that Kate had been awarded 2nd prize. She was presented with her certificate and prize money by Lord Hurd of Westwell, the former Foreign Secretary.

Kate and her brother Jonny, last year's winner, were also chosen to be interviewed throughout the day by the Radio 4 programme, 'Sunday', which was broadcast on Sunday 28 February.

(Source: Buzz 81)

From Mossley Methodist Church, Ashton-under-Lyne Circuit
Church prays for 22nd century citizens

The congregation of Mossley Methodist Church are prayerfully supporting their newest member, Jacob Hepworth, who is part of a diverse group of young people from all over Oldham brought together to take part in the 22nd Century Citizens Project. It is a collaborative multimedia project run by the young people to explore the violation of human rights with specific reference to the labour camps of WW2 and the treatment of refugees in Europe in the last 60 years.

The first phase was a research and understanding visit to Poland last month, to explore the Holocaust and to learn about this dark period in history, visiting both Auschwitz and Birkenau. The group met an Auschwitz survivor and also heard from someone who hid Jews in their house. They recorded their journey with photography and kept diaries and they also explored the issues of the trip with drama, poetry and music.

Now that they have returned to the UK it is hoped that the group will have an exhibition in Gallery Oldham and create a piece of drama to take to other young people in youth groups and schools. Many of the Mossley congregation followed the itinerary of the visit to Poland and prayed for Jacob and the project each step of the way.

(Source: Buzz 80)


From Timperley Methodist Church, Altrincham Circuit
Homelessness @ Cafe Sundae

Half of the service was spent on a 'simulation' whereby everyone was made homeless and had 20 minutes to get a roof over their heads. The nightmarish reality of negotiating town halls, job centres, housing units and post offices, just to obtain the right documentation to get into housing, helped make the gospel message come alive in a whole new way.

We were also pleased to welcome David Batchelor - a family mediator from Depaul UK - who told us about the even bigger problem of 'hidden homelessness' and steps we could take to look out for our friends at school.

As our response, we all made cardboard signs, writing what we would want people to know about homelessness.

Timperley Methodist Church's teenage-friendly worship material - called Café Sundae - is all freely shared. Visit the Café Sundae website for packs of material on many issues, including homelessness, and at myspace for more information. 

(Source: Buzz 79)


From Baildon Methodist Church, Bradford
Eco-congregation goes public

What are Baildon and Bradford doing about climate change? What more could Baildon and Bradford do about climate change? John Anderson, eco-officer at Baildon Methodist Church explains how the church is thinking outside the box and engaging the public.

"In November, Baildon Methodist Eco-congregation, Bradford held a public meeting for 100 citizens, which one Roman Catholic present called 'inspirational'.

  • Five local speakers explained what Bradford Council and Baildon Parish Council were doing
  • The concept of Eco-congregation was explained and advocated
  • Two new near-zero-carbon buildings were described
  • A Christian Aid speaker outlined how climate change is killing now

The second half of the meeting looked at what more could be done. In particular there was much support for distributed electricity generation from wind turbines, domestic roofs etc. Seven displays were viewed by those attending. One aim was to spawn many other such meetings all across Bradford and indeed the country."

(Source: Buzz 78)

From the Gloucestershire Circuit
Gloucestershire Methodists support interfaith suppers in spirit of peace
 

Meeting around two monthly intervals, the aptly named Friendship Cafe in the Barton area of Gloucester is the venue for regular interfaith bring and share suppers coordinated by Spirit of Peace, a UK registered charity dedicated to building peace, person to person, in a spirit of friendship and non-violence. It also supports grassroots peacemakers in the Middle East and Hope Flowers School in Bethlehem.

The supper in September which attracted 80 people, coincided with the Iftar, eating dates and drinking water to break the daily fast for Ramadan. Before the meal Haroon Kadodia spoke about the fast, customs and observances made by Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.

At another supper, held this month, around 40 people heard from Jane Ozanne, UK Director of Spirit of Peace as she spoke about future events and opportunities, plus up-to-date news about the Jerusalem Peacemakers and support for Hope Flowers School, Bethlehem.

Gloucestershire Co-ordinator for Spirit of Peace and local Methodist, David Bennett, says "It's a brilliant experience. Real talking, sharing and dialogue take place between people of different faiths. I have been personally touched by the depth of that. I am delighted by the support we receive which includes many Methodists from the Gloucestershire Circuit. Please pray for this vital work and a growing understanding ".

(Source: Buzz 77)

From the Blackpool Circuit
Methodist Churches reveal their heritage and history

Blackpool's New Central, North Shore, Salem and Layton Methodist churches are opening their doors as part of the country-wide Heritage Open Days, sponsored by English Heritage, on 10-12 September 2009, from 10am-4pm. Interpretation boards and leaflets will offer an explanation of the Christian faith, and describe each church's unique contribution to the faith heritage of the town as well as its contribution to serving the community.

The churches' coffee lounge volunteers will be offering refreshments and a friendly welcome, and will be ready to respond to any questions visitors may have. Several of the churches will also have live musical performances. 

(Source: Buzz 74)

From Bethesda Methodist Church, Gloucestershire Circuit
It's not just environmentally friendly projects at home that our churches are so good at backing

Here at the Bethesda Methodist Church we've won awards for our environmental work, and now we've raised cash to buy a solar roof panel for an AIDS orphanage in South Africa. The green energy-boosting panel means that the Sukumawenze Orphanage in Durban can make use of the sizzling South African sunshine whilst slashing its energy bills and helping the environment.

It was made possible because of generous donations by our members into a carbon offset fund. We have been committed to cutting our carbon footprint for a decade and are signed up to the National Eco-Congregation Programme.

(Source: Buzz 73)

From Methodist Church House, London
Everybody loves to get into the carnival atmosphere, and a joint Methodist, Anglican and Roman Catholic sponsored award has helped students in Somerset to do just that.

The AoC (Association of Colleges) Beacon Award for sustainable college partnerships, was won in February by the Carnival Academy at Bridgwater College. It was in recognition oftheir contribution to the spectacular annual Guy Fawkes carnival renowned in this picturesque part of the country. The Academy teaches students an eclectic mix of skills from float and costume design to performance and lighting.

And their accomplished handiwork was also greatly appreciated by the 150,000 enthralled spectators who lined the area's historic streets to watch the stunning illuminated procession meander through. "It's always good to acknowledge best practice and success in further education and the Beacon awards do this admirably," said Robert Jones - the award's co-sponsor and Chaplaincy Coordinator, at Methodist Church House.

(Source: Buzz 70)

From Rose Hill Methodist Church, Oxford
A great book, the latest DVDs and no fines
! 

Bookworms in Oxford are in for a treat after the unveiling of a brand new 'community library' by the Rose Hill Methodist Church. Housed in our neighbourhood community centre, this booklover's paradise aims to unite people through reading.

And what's even better is that fines have been scrapped! Locals appear to love the idea. We have been inundated with donations of books as well as a generous handout of £5000 from Oxfordshire County Council.
Our deacon, Stephen Richardson, said, "It will be a great place for people to look at books but we also hope to grow community links out of this. We want to serve tea and coffee and make people feel comfortable to hang around and talk to each other."

So whether it's JRR Tolkien or JK Rowling, we're sure there's a book to please all tastes.

(Source Buzz 69)

From Trinity at Bowes Methodist Church, North London
Trinity at Bowes Church was celebrating in December after hearing that we had beenawarded over £2million to boost our facilities for young people. 

We were thrilled to receive the cash which was given to us by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

It's part of an initiative called 'myplace' which aims to offer young people world-class activities.

We are going to put some of it towards employing a full-time youth worker and creating a state-of-the-art music and media training resource.

(Source: Buzz 68)


From Bladon Methodist Church, Bladon, West Oxfordshire

A 14-year-old member of Bladon Methodist Church raised an impressive £3000 for the British Heart Foundation this summer by cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats in just 15 days. Luke Drummond, who is an active member of Bladon Methodist Junior Church, did the 982 mile ride in honour of his late grandfather Tony, who died of a heart attack, in March.

But the gruelling ride was not without its challenges. Luke suffered a whopping 13 punctures, broke his gears and lost four bottles of shower gel along the way!

Before he set off Luke said, "This is a challenge that I have wanted to do since I was 12, but the memory of my Grandad is now going to be spurring me on throughout the journey."

(Source: Buzz 66) 

From Hucclecote Methodist Church, Hillview Church and Abbey Church, Gloucester

To experience what life must be like for the millions who live in shantytowns around the world, around 30 young people and their leaders lived and slept on the church field for 24 hours in a makeshift slum 'community'. The town was built from cardboard boxes and old pallets and luxuries like iPods, mobile phones and cosmetics were strictly banned. Everyone had to fetch and carry limited water supplies and cook their own foods from a small supply of goods.

For a short time, the reality of the world's poor became our reality, and as the young people raised money for change through Soul Action projects, they themselves were changed in the process.

(Source: Buzz 65)
 
 
From Steeple Ashton Methodist Church, Wiltshire
We are a small village church (12 members) and have been looking into learning new ways of being 'church' with the Fresh Expressions project. One outcome is the formation of a quiz team which participates in the monthly quiz at the local pub. This gives us contact with members of the community, meeting with them in an environment where they feel comfortable. We have now challenged the Anglican Church to put up a team and this will give an increased ecumenical dimension to our contact.

(By the way, we have won a couple of times!)

(Source: Buzz 64)

From Christchurch Methodist/ URC local ecumenical partnership, Hitchin
Our members have been doing Disciple courses since 1999 and we have just completed Disciple 4 (which we think we are the first UK church to complete). More than 50 people from our church and circuit have completed one or more courses.

'Disciple' is the best Bible study course we have come across. They last for 34 weeks and have 30 minutes of reading each day and a meeting every week. Taking part requires a commitment but even very busy folk have managed to fit it in. We have all benefited greatly from such focused Bible study and strongly recommend it.

(Source: Buzz 64)

From South Harrow Methodist Church, Harrow and Hillingdon Circuit
This year we have adopted the persecuted Church as our charity and during Lent held an all night prayer vigil for our brothers and sisters who are suffering for their faith. After a Bible study, people were invited to spend time at one of seven different prayer stations, including a focus on Jesus' suffering for us, prayer for countries and individuals, identifying with the persecuted (by being shut in a cupboard!) and 'prayerful action' (writing cards or letters). Each hour we had a meditation on prayer and between 3am and 4am a praise hour.
 
Those who attended learnt about and were inspired by our persecuted brothers and sisters and, of course, we trust that God is using our prayers because, after all, the first thing that persecuted Christians ask us in the West to do is to pray for them. 

(Source: Buzz 63)

From Withycombe Methodist Church, Exmouth
In March we held a 'Daffodil Sunday' service to remember our members and friends who are too ill or unable to attend weekly services. We wanted to celebrate their life and to recollect with joy all they have done. We remembered each person by name, and then to remind them that far from being forgotten they continue to be known to us and to God, we took them a bunch of daffodils from the service with a ribbon and their name attached.

We were told of one lady who had been given some daffodils who died later that day. Her son expressed how grateful he was that his mother was being prayed for right to the end of her life. Many who received the daffodils have said they were amazed that they were still being remembered - by name and with joy. 

(Source: Buzz 62)

From Short Cross Church, Halesowen, Birmingham District
After returning from work in the village of Njoro in Kenya with the Karibuni Trust, Muriel Priest, a member of our congregation, challenged us at our annual church meeting to raise money to try and get the village's nursery school connected to the nearest water supply. The children of the Wesley Nursery School were constantly infected by worms because the only water available to them came from the local river.

So we took up the challenge and managed to raise over £20,000 by direct giving, money raising and one church member writing a book about his life and requesting donations went towards the water fund.

Drilling and construction began in Njoro and at last, clean water was pumped for the very first time. In December 2007, Muriel was present at the dedication of the well and a bottle of the water was brought back to Halesowen with tales of the immeasurable joy witnessed because of the availability of clean running water. We wonder what God may challenge us to do next!

(Source: Buzz 61)

From Berkswich Methodist Church, Stafford
The Berkswich Luncheon Club is 'church' in a totally different setting. Each month we provide a three-course meal of home-cooked food for local elderly residents alongside entertainment, often provided by our own members. In school holidays, grandchildren entertain with dance, juggling and magic tricks.

We offer the challenge of the gospel through our hospitality, conversation and service. For several of our members, many of whom are by no means members of our worshipping community, the Luncheon Club is their church.

(Source: Buzz 59)

From Fishponds Methodist Church, Bristol
Why should children be the only ones to enjoy a Holiday Club? That was the thinking behind our decision to run a 'Fun Day for the Elderly' with an activity day and a separate outing. We offered a morning of handicrafts, music, local history, carpet skittles and a session of simple exercises. Then, after lunch together, entertainment and an epilogue drawing the whole day to a close. We later had an outing to the Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean. Lovely weather, scenery and fellowship.

These days have proved to be very successful. We have opened it to those linked in any way to our church and to local ecumenical partners. Most of those who come live alone and enjoy the company as much as the activities.

(Source: Buzz 58)

From South Petherton & Crewkerne Circuit, Somerset
We recently developed a PowerPoint-based course called Creative Worship as a follow-up for those who had taken the Methodist Worship Leaders course and as a refresher for local preachers who want to break out of the 'five-hymn-sandwich' but are unsure how. It has had a good response and has now been taken up by several other churches.

The CD-Rom containing the course is available free of charge from the email address below and also contains a range of evangelism and discipling resources.

(Source: Buzz 57)
 

From Hexham Trinity Methodist Church, Tynedale Circuit
On Thursday evenings at 5pm we all meet in church - children and adults - and have our tea together. It has proved highly popular with the elderly, and those just getting out of school. We charge £2 for adults and £1 for children, and £2 for children who eat like adults! We then have separate programmes: the children do fun things like watching Christian videos (after a hard day at school) and the adults have a Bible study or a talk. Numbers have reached over 40, with families from other churches, or no church at all, joining in because they have been invited by friends.

(Source: Buzz 56)

From Ludwick Way Church, Welwyn Garden City
As part of our commitment to exploring progressive Christianity, we watched the Saving Jesus DVD set to encourage open questions about the historic Jesus and the Jesus created by the Church over the centuries. This has attracted a number of new regulars, who are now also attending Sunday worship and our monthly Permission to Speak meetings. This has led to an opportunity to restart the junior church after an absence of families over recent years.

(Source: Buzz 55)

From Central, Letchworth, North Herts
We're a suburban church with a membership of around 60. For several years we've been running our 'Sunday School' on a Thursday - an hour of Roots input, then an hour of games, etc.: we get around 25-30 children aged 5 to 12. We've also started a Youth Club afterwards for the over 12's. 6 months ago we started a monthly mid-week service on Thursday. It brings the children into the worship building, and some parents come too. And more members come than on the Sunday evening! 

(Source: Buzz 54)

From Monton, Salford Circuit
Twenty Turkish Muslims, committed to improving inter faith relations, joined us for morning worship. They shared the Peace, came to the communion table and received a blessing and brought a delicious 'Noah's pudding' for everyone to eat after the service. This is a delicacy made with beans, barley, chickpeas, fruit and walnuts and is traditionally shared with family and friends. We ended with a reading and prayer from both Christian and Muslim traditions. 

(Source: Buzz 54)

From University Chaplaincy, Lancaster
We've recently hosted an exhibition to coincide with World Aids Day on December 1st.  The exhibition is of photos by Don McCullin, and is entitled Life Inter- rupted .  It's about HIV/Aids in Zambia and South Africa.  It's hard-hitting and made us aware of the links between Aids and poverty.  

(Source: Buzz 52)

From Highfield Trinity, Sheffield
We're an inner-city church, hosting three partner churches  including African-Caribbean, Apostolic, and independent French/English speaking African Christians, most of whom are or have been asylum seekers: on a typical Sunday worship runs continuously from 10.30am to 9.00pm!  We're keen to establish links across the 4 congregations, to worship and work together and to learn from each other . We held a joint Pentecost celebration, and we're planning a shared occasion on Christmas Eve.

(Source: Buzz 51)

From Chesterfield circuit, South Yorkshire
We've been celebrating God's mission in today's world with a Circuit World Church Festival. We called it 'Partners in Mission'. The day included an exhibition of more than 15 mission organisations, plus web and email links to the worldwide church. In the evening we had fun with dance, drama and music led by Christians originally from Iran, who are now from Hexthorpe, Doncaster.

(Source: Buzz 50)

From King's Somborne, Winchester
We're a village chapel with 16 members, but with the parish church we've run Young Christians Together in Somborne for the past 3 years, with now 35 children up to age 11. 7 of them (aged 8 - 11) have just completed a 'Welcome to the Lord's Table' course, and received communion for the first time at a joyful service in the chapel. With the Bishop's approval they can now receive communion in both churches. We enjoyed running the course, and will repeat it soon. We recommend it to anyone working with this age-group.

(Source: Buzz 49)

From Rugby Methodist Church Centre
We concentrate our church fundraising on one or two large projects each year.  We've been able to send over £2000 to World Vision for work in Afghanistan, and to a local children's charity.  This year we're helping a recently-retired member who's going to teach in Sierra Leone, and also helping to build school classrooms in India.  We find, as we work together on these Christian projects, that we learn and enjoy fellowship. The life of the church is enhanced.

(Source: Buzz 48)

From Selly Oak, Birmingham
Partly because we're near the colleges, many links have been established over 40 years with people and projects around the world. We decided to produce a pamphlet recording and describing some of the links our congregation have, as individuals and groups. We can email you a pdf file of the pamphlet if you're interested.  It's a good way to learn about our truly international Christian community, and encourage the sense of our world mission.

(Source: Buzz 47)

From Clydach Methodist Church, South Wales
Our Minister is a Governor at the local Junior school.  Among other links involving visits etc, one class here was in touch with a Ghana school which the church had been supporting. The children did some artwork and there was a cookery demonstration. We shared a coffee morning to raise funds, and shoes and toys were shipped to Ghana.  Soon we'll have a display in church of RE resources, with examples of the children's work: we also hope to visit the school to see the new multi-use hall and refurbished library.

(Source: Buzz 46)

From Priory Church, Bedford
We've run 2 'Come as you are' courses in the last 18 months, including both those who were members but wished to learn more, and those wanting to find out about membership. Everyone has responded, offering service as well as taking up membership, and we have 2 local preachers on trial and another on note. These three did the Worship Leaders course and became WLs for a short time before responding to a call to preach. 'Come as you are' is a course which challenges people to commitment and to service, and we recommend it wholeheartedly.

(Source: Buzz 45)

From Douglas, Isle of Man
'We' are 17 churches. We've always had some home-based groups (for Disciple etc), but it tended to be the same people. We wanted to establish Homegroups accessible on different days and times, and spent six months planning this. One of our ministers now provides lectionary-based notes for 9 groups, which involve more than 60 people from 9 churches. We've had 'social' meetings too, and successfully invited visitors to those.

(Source: Buzz 44)

From Mapperley, Nottingham East
We've just had visits from 500 children and teachers from local schools in a successful extension of our regular monthly Super Sunday Services. At the end of term, they came to pre-Easter events which included puppet shows, worship songs and games. The infant and junior children were of different faiths, and many had never been inside a church, but they raised the roof with their singing. Those of our congregation who took part were thrilled.

(Source: Buzz 43)

From Trinity URC/Methodist, Leek, Staffs
We had some surprises over 5 weeks in a series called 'Faith and Action' in which members talked about their working lives. A cabinet-maker (and Local Preacher) showed joints and tools. 2 Samaritans talked about non-judgmental listening. A manager in Health Promotion told us about women in asylum-seeking families and their need for the Health Service. An International Safety Officer for a major pharmaceutical company raised ethical issues, and our minister spoke about the personal experience of ministry.

(Source: Buzz 42)

From Lancaster
"Alter-Nativity" was the title we chose for an advent event, when we held a children's party, inviting those connected with the church and those who'd previously been in touch for Make Poverty History. Eating, worshipping, crafts, puppets and games all led to new friendships and new knowledge of the Christmas story. It was fun and included information about children who live in poverty and fear. More info from...

(Source: Buzz 41)

From Princes Avenue, Hull (West)
We've been running 'Open Doors' for asylum-seekers and refugees for 5 years. The NHS, the Immigration Advisory Service and the CAB work with us (including Anglicans and RCs) to provide for between 50 and 100 people every Thursday. We provide lunch, coffee etc. The joy is when they offer to do practical tasks (like washing-up or furniture-moving), and also to help newcomers in their turn to settle in.

(Source: Buzz 40)

From Hexham, Northumberland
We approached the local High School (which had a reputation for being anti-religious) on behalf of Churches Together in Hexham, to ask how we might be helpful. The response was very positive, and recently we organised a study day for the lower sixth form entitled 'The God Question', which included a keynote address by David Wilkinson and no less than fourteen seminars led by local Christians. It went well, and was appreciated by students and teachers: it only happened because we asked!

(Source: Buzz 39)

From Stockton and Middlesborough circuits
We told THE BUZZ about our ThAT project 2 years ago, when we (churches at Thornaby, Avenue and Trinity) raised funds for three villages in Malawi. The money provided seed, fertiliser and blankets. Well, we came back having seen for ourselves the needs there, and now we've run a ThAT Container project. It's good to report that two containers of goods, assembled over the past year, have now been shipped, and by the time you read this we'll have been to Malawi to distribute them.

(Source: Buzz 37)

From Rugby Methodist Church Centre
Nothing startling, but we reckon we've got a good thing going. Not everyone goes to the local library or bookshop, but we wanted to encourage people to read easy-access Christian books - biography, novels, some 'study' but mainly 'lighter' reading, with 20% aimed at children. It cost £500 to start. We have 150 books, and we keep adding - 10 books this month. By word of mouth and notices we've publicised it to groups using the premises. Our congregation browse it after services, and free-access borrowing has worked well.

(Source: Buzz 36)

From Birmingham
We've started an Adopt-a-Student scheme at our local church to encourage contact through, for example, babysitting for young families or gardening for older people. We're still alive and well as MethSoc, and call ourselves The Happy Society! We want to remind everyone that Methodist students can find friends and Christian conversation through groups like ours. If you know someone moving to H.E. in Birmingham this autumn, prod them to get in touch! Same applies elsewhere of course.

(Source: Buzz 35)

From Dibden Purlieu, Southampton
We - 20 young people from Dibden Purlieu Methodist Church - created a giant 'Grain Sculpture' in the church car park as part of a week of events on Make Poverty History: it depicted the logo of the campaign. We also held a vigil attended by over 150 people, including reps from Fiji, Ghana, Argentina and Sri Lanka: they talked about the injustice faced by people in their home countries as a result of extreme poverty and unfair trade rules.

(Source: Buzz 34)

From Cromer, Norfolk
We've formed the Order of St. Jude, committed to praying for the Methodist Church at circuit, District and Connexional level. Members commit themselves to pray at least twice daily, using the services for morning and evening prayer. We include a specially-written prayer for the Church, alongside specific and personal prayers. We're linked by a newsletter, and we'll pray for any concern that's known to us. We welcome requests for prayer - and new members!

(Source: Buzz 32)

From Hartlip, Kent
We're proud to have one of the oldest Methodist churches in Kent, opened in 1821. Four years ago we raised money to convert the Schoolroom into a Retreat Centre, a place of tranquillity open to all: we've also restored the flint walls of the chapel. The Centre's been used by a local hospice, prison and hospital chaplaincies, groups from various denominations and some of other than Christian faiths. We see this as part of our mission and make no charge, though we're happy to accept donations!

(Source: Buzz 31)

From Cotgrave, South Nottingham
A couple of years ago we decided, with the agreement of Louise who runs it, to move our Alpha courses into Grannie's, which is a popular local tea room and gift shop.
The courses have attracted people from Radcliffe, Tollerton and Gamston. We set up projector and screen at one end, but the café tables remain as normal. Louise is now part of the leadership team.

(Source: Buzz 30)

From Bristol district
We've now begun the second course jointly run for lay readers in the Bristol diocese and local preachers in the District. Our first Methodist 'graduate' is being accepted onto full Plan this month. It's a 2-year taught course, with fortnightly tutorial sessions led by Anglicans and Methodists, but based on the syllabus of Faith and Worship - with specific Methodist bits such as H&P hymn numbers removed! Humbly, we think we're showing the rest of the world how to do it! Joint recognition perhaps in the future?

(Source: Buzz 29)

From Park Lane, Norwich
For 9 weeks we held meetings at 8.15pm on Sunday evenings about Science and Faith. It's aimed at the 20-50 age-group, part of our plan to help people explore ways into faith. A 40-minute talk (hard work for the speaker!) was followed by coffee and conversation, ending about 10pm. Issues of ethics, theology and philosophy have been discussed. 50-80 people have attended, including agnostics. One comment: "It's been eye-opening to see that Christians are prepared to take seriously the questions I face daily as a science teacher."

(Source: Buzz 28)

From Huddersfield
30 of us from the former Hillhouse church recently held a reunion: we'd mostly not met for 45 years! We met at a Ukrainian Social Club, but some also took the opportunity to visit Hillhouse, which for the last 35 years has been a mosque. The imam arranged for us to be shown around by some of the community, who entertained us with a meal of Asian food. Our visit is recorded on the mosque website at 
(Source: Buzz 27)

From Baildon, West Yorkshire
Churches in Baildon have sold Fairtrade goods for 20 years. Our 'One World' group has organised tasting stalls in local supermarkets. Now we've formed the Baildon Fairtrade Steering group: 16 volunteers from all the churches visited 50 businesses. The large local Co-op became the Flagship Fairtrade store, stocking dozens of lines. By April, 6 shops, 5 cafes and 15 businesses were using Fairtrade products: the number is still expanding. We want to be a Fairtrade Village!

(Source: Buzz 26)

From Emmanuel Church, Barnsley
We've found that annual projects are a great focus for Our Calling. Last year we learned about and raised money for Mozambique, where HIV/AIDS is a major concern. A group went to southern Africa to meet Christians there and see the work at first hand. This year we're focusing on Hospices, and again combining fund-raising with volunteering and learning about palliative care, death and bereavement. We've held special services, organised information stalls, and challenged ourselves to do things for the local hospice.

(Source: Buzz 25)

From Ilminster, Dorset
We've begun to put all our church council agenda items under one or other of the OC headings. It helps us to see the main purpose for an item: for example, is a coffee morning Service or Evangelism? It also points up the balance of what we do, and draws attention to any gaps.

(Source: Buzz 24)

From Trinity,  Basingstoke
We've been running our Forget-Me-Not project for 10 years now. The idea's very simple: each week, for those who can't attend worship, we send by post on Friday the service and notice sheet for the coming Sunday, including our prayer list. We sometimes add appropriate seasonal gifts - a bookmark, a palm cross, a Christmas card. And each month someone provides a hand-written letter (about themselves, their families and activities) which is photocopied: it provides a more personal form of contact, and we've found that people really appreciate it.

(Source: Buzz 24)

From Hampton,  South West London
"New Children's Club" was the heading in the local paper, which was just what we wanted! Very few children in the 7 - 11 age-group were attending Junior Church. We re-launched it as the Discovery Club, meeting every Sunday during term-time, with stories, games and activities (like cooking, painting, model-making). It's early days, but we're pleased. It's an hour and a quarter entirely in the church hall, run like a holiday club: teenagers help three leaders to run the sessions.

(Source: Buzz 23)

From Bramford Road, Ipswich
We were surprised and shocked to arrive at worship and find the newly-decorated church strewn with rubbish. It was to be an all-age service, named after the successful Eden Project in Cornwall. We talked about the earth as God's garden, and ourselves as gardeners, and (to the relief of some!) younger members cleared up the mess - not, of course, to be thrown away, but to be recycled. We became an 'eco-congregation' earlier this year: we recycle through our charity shop, and we've recycled materials from our buildings as well.

(Source: Buzz 22)

From Beckminster, Wolverhampton
We're pretty active on Fair Trade issues locally, with £900 worth of goods purchased by the congregation last year. We use fair trade products for refreshments at meetings. Lots of people have heard of Cafedirect, and we've decided to invest £1200 in Cafedirect shares. It's not about getting any return, but about supporting their effort to increase sales in new outlets, and to raise awareness.

(Source: Buzz 21)

From Thornaby, Avenue and Trinity, Middlesbrough
Last year, we met a woman from Malawi who described life in the villages there. As a result, we (three churches) got together to fund-raise £5,000 for 3 bore-holes. (We called it the 'TH.A.T Well' project: work it out!) We actually raised £7,500, and a couple of us went to Malawi. Bore-holes proved impossible, but 200 bags of seed, 200 of fertiliser and 200 blankets were given. We're keeping in touch.

(Source: Buzz 20)

From Chipping Barnet, North London
Despite sharing a building for 17 years at St John's, with monthly shared services, we realised that Anglicans and Methodists knew less about each other than we should. Spurred on by a new Rector and the Covenant, we held a series of groups to look at areas of disagreement - and found there weren't many, apart from small things on a practical and liturgical level. So now we're moving on to greater sharing, including a Holy Communion for families.

(Source: Buzz19)

From Holsworthy, Devon
We're piloting a scheme to answer the needs of a rural area for simple 'befriending'. It came partly out of the Foot and Mouth experience, but we know that not only farmers but elderly and housebound people can feel very isolated. So with help from the District Advance Fund and training from Acorn Trust we're creating a small team with listening skills. The Rural Issues group is ecumenical, and the local project will be too. Two other villages are involved - Halwill and Bridestowe.

(Source: Buzz18)

From Skipton, Yorkshire
A year ago, a lively correspondence in the local paper raised questions about empty churches. We (the local Churches Together) decided to follow this up with a look at contemporary society. In November we ran a series of talks by Canon Martyn Percy of Lincoln Theological Institute, tackling youth culture (called 'Mind the Gap'), the role of the local church, and a radical look at being Christians today. More than 60 attended - and paid £2! - each week. We plan to follow up the ideas in the spring.

(Source: Buzz18)

From Wellington, Shropshire
We had a fine old chapel front, but the rest of the building looked like a factory! 2 years ago we decided on a new church, and the local Pentecostal church (ex Prim) offered us a home: they had a fire, and we were able to let them use our premises. Now, finally the builders are in and we'll be worshipping in their church for a while. They've changed their service time, and also let us put a temporary building on their tennis court to keep our BB and other activities going. We feel it's a fine example of Christian caring.

(Source: Buzz17)

From Weston, Bath
We've begun a neighbourhood prayer scheme, 'Prayer, Care & Share' in partnership with other local Christians. Since May more than 50 people have promised to pray regularly for specific streets & homes, or wards/departments in the nearby regional hospital. We?re looking for opportunities to care for people and ultimately to share our faith too. Also, 'Let's Meet Up' brings us together for fellowship, encouragement and prayer 3 times a year. There is real anticipation of what God will do through this!

(Source: Buzz16)

From: Skelmanthorpe Methodist Church, Denby Dale and Clayton West Circuit
Members of Skelmanthorpe Methodist Church set up a display outside the Savoy Squash Club in the village and invited passers-by to stop and write a few verses of a Psalm. People were not shy about taking part and 34 members of the public volunteered to put pen to paper. The Psalm writing session was Skelmanthorpe Methodist Church's contribution to the Methodist Church project to produce a hand-written Bible to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible this year.



From Elmley Prison, Sheerness, Kent:
Elmley holds about 900 prisoners. One prisoner's young relative went into a children's hospice, Demelza House, in Sittingbourne. He asked, "Is there something we can do?" - bearing in mind that the maximum any prisoner can earn is £10 a week. Well we (half the prisoners and some staff) raised £2,000 between us, with a sponsored staff/inmate football match, an It's a Knockout!' and some regular giving. A hospice representative came in recently to receive the money.

(Source: Buzz1)
 

From Mount Charles, St Austell, Cornwall
Like many churches, we print weekly notices. We also e-mail them every Friday. 'Customers' include students and people working away from home, and even members on holiday who compete to be the most distant readers! More than 30 are now on the e-mail list, including members of other local churches. We've set up an e-group so that any member can send an e-mail to all the others. We've circulated everything from a piano offer to prayer requests - and the arrival of the swifts on May 3rd.

(Source: Buzz2)

From Ponteland, near Newcastle upon Tyne
We felt it was important to honour the past as well as present members of our church by recording its history. We thought we were going to celebrate our bicentenary, but discovered we were wrong! Still, we researched the 1851 census, a dissenters' dispensation from the Bishop of Durham in 1814, circuit plans from 1829 and so on. We read letters, diaries, registers, family histories and a Recorder article of 1898. We wrote a book, and the methods we used could help others.

(Source: Buzz3)

From Bosley, Congleton Circuit
We wanted a project to make us think about the big wide world. We've found Water Aid to be an excellent charity to support and learn from. You take on a particular task: the whole cost of administration is paid by UK water companies. Our thirty-odd members raised £7,000 over 3 years to provide clean water to 3 Indian villages. Now we're suggesting our District adopts a project - so much from each church,

(Source: Buzz4)

From Selly Oak, Birmingham
We wanted to find out what members of the church were up to in the world of work - paid and voluntary. 65 out of about 200 filled in a card about this. We discovered, for example, that 15 were school governors! We published the survey material in a brochure so that everyone knows what people are involved in. We've had a service where 3 members talked about their work, and 4 house groups on faith/work issues. We're planning a marketplace of the voluntary work members are doing, and we're developing a way in which our members can 'audit' how their faith and work relate.
E-mail contact: david.clark@charis.co.uk
Phone contact : Richard Kirby 0121 471 1968
(Source: Buzz5)

From Emmanuel, Barnsley
We've just re-launched our church magazine. We've set up an e-mail address specifically for magazine submissions as well as having a mailbox in the church entrance lobby. Children from our Roots group appeared in front of the congregation dressed up to give ideas for magazine items. 'Beckham & the England team' illustrated success stories! We've also invited items from local community groups. What have other churches done to encourage submissions for magazine items? We'd like to hear from you!
E-mail contact : emmanuelchurchmag@yahoo.co.uk
Phone contact : Rev. Leslie Newton 01226 203557
(Source: Buzz6)

From North Walsham, Norfolk
A couple of us were inspired by a Christian Spirituality course to hold a Quiet Day. That was four years ago. Now there's a Quiet Day Retreat Group, organising 4 a year for up to 36 people. Sometimes we pay professional leaders, or else we lead it locally. It's become ecumenical, moving around different churches. One person said, "We enjoy being away from the TV and not having to answer the phone." Another: "I can sit and read without feeling guilty!"

(Source: Buzz7)

From Poole and Swanage Circuit
We made contact with a good number of children through a holiday club in the summer. At Upton, we organised a Sunday afternoon 'Go M.A.D.' (Make and Do) in November. 65 children aged 5 to 11 came from all over the area for craft projects - crazy costumes, mad hats, a giant collage - plus dance, drama and music workshops, and a praise session. After tea, the 20 helpers and some parents plus the circuit congregations packed the church for a service.

(Source: Buzz8)

From Hereford and Ross Circuit
As a largely city-based circuit, we wanted to find out more about rural issues, so 50 of us visited the Cwm and Kingstone circuit - 10 churches, 1 minister. On a farm, we listened to the farmer explaining his situation, had tea and held a circuit service in the barn. The diocesan Agricultural Chaplain who spoke made us realise that 'fair trade' isn't only an overseas issue: cheap food has its cost. We bought some farm potatoes, vowed to support Farmers' Markets, and left thinking about what else we could do.

(Source: Buzz9)

From Market Rasen, Lincolnshire
If you look at our Plan, you'll see 8 or 10 services with the initials WL. 14 attended a circuit Worship Leaders course. 2 or 3 work together on each service: there are no sermons, so creative ways of proclaiming the gospel are found, often with members of the congregations. The Super meets the WLs every month for reflection and feedback. Congregations say 'Oh we had a really good time with É.' The rules are flexibly interpreted, but the Local Preachers are happy!

(Source: Buzz10)

From East Wight, Isle of Wight
A local initiative combined fund raising for Local Preachers Mutual Aid (LPMA) with a good meal and an exploration of the history of costume. We also wanted to strengthen links between circuit churches and between the two island circuits. The event at Ryde achieved it all. Queen Victoria and Mr Brown (with kilt and sporran) made a guest appearance to end a historic costume show which went from Stone Age to Rock age! The show will be repeated soon on behalf of the local Hospice.

(Source: Buzz11)

From Barnes, South London
For about ten years now, a group of us in our teens (and now early twenties!) have taken part in an Easter Vigil. We've got together in time for an evening meal on Saturday, then spent the night in short sessions of worship and periods of planned activity, including this year the preparation of an Easter Garden. We greet the dawn on the Common, and join the congregation for communion at 8am, when the Lent symbols are removed from the cross to be replaced by spring flowers later in the morning. It's exhausting but fun!

(Source: Buzz12)

From Cheltenham
Just 17 churches in England have now received the Eco-Congregation Award - the latest being ours at Bethesda. Younger members have been specially commended for their active campaigning, the purchase of some rainforest, and money-raising for Malawi AIDS orphans. We've made Ten Green Commitments, including car-pooling and recycling mobile phones. We also run Traidgreen, which sells Traidcraft products, energy-efficient bulbs - and bird boxes! Rev Dr David Pickering, who leads the national initiative, says 'I hope many other churches will follow this lead.'

(Source: Buzz13)

From Quinton, Birmingham
We've 277 members, and something like 16 groups meeting regularly for social, study or discussion purposes. We've found (in an Our Calling session) that there's a lot of ignorance about what each is doing. Have they become Ôclosed shops'? What help might be needed? What's been going on too long? What needs are not met? Are there new groups we should facilitate? We're getting reps together to look at all this. We're also starting an email directory to improve local communication.

(Source: Buzz14)

From Southwell, Notts
We know that for many, Sundays have changed: we also know that some want a more open style of learning. This month we've started a new session called ÔThe 9.30' in the church hall. We begin with 20 minutes of worship, then break into all-age groups for various forms of reflection and activity. The common purpose is to hear God's message. We get back together to share what we've done, then have coffee. The Ônormal' service still happens later. ÔThe 9.30' this month was attended by 70 people.

(Source: Buzz15)


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