The story of the six men who were arrested, tried, found guilty
and sentenced to seven years' transportation for forming an
agricultural 'Friendly Society' (an early form of Trades Union) is
well known to many.
For the Tolpuddle Festival weekend in 2011,
Tolpuddle Methodist Chapel in the Southampton
District, staffed by a team of volunteers, opened its
doors to hundreds of visitors who flocked to learn more about its
Tolpuddle made the most of this opportunity to speak about the
faith of the "martyrs," and to show that Christianity and social
justice to hand-in-hand.
The displays of historical artefacts in the refurbished church
led to enthusiastic discussions with the visitors about the beliefs
that inspire modern-day Methodists to play their part in
progressive social movements.
Following a circuit review, using the four 'P's
(Ready for Pruning; Parked; Progressing; Opportunity for Planting),
Banbury Methodist Circuit in the Northampton
District felt challenged to develop their evangelism to
share their faith.
They appointed a Rural Church and Community Co-ordinator to
strengthen links between the rural chapels in the circuit and their
communities, and to help the chapels to find ways in which they can
be "light and salt" to those around them.
Outreach and evangelism ideas and initiatives are shared at the
Circuit Meeting, and the rural chapels have found themselves able
to take "small, fragile" steps with confidence into their local
be tempting to think that the Olympic Games would be of little
interest to the Channel Islands District. You
would be wrong!
Over the last few months, Jersey Methodists, inspired by the
Revd Billy Slatter, have been enthusiastically engaging with the
Billy and the team have been developing a series of
Christian festivals and events to be held in Jersey throughout
the summer. This includes 12 parish festivals, drama and author
visits to local schools, art exhibitions, flower festivals, fun
runs, as well as holiday clubs and special services.
The Jersey festival has been officially recognised as part of
the cultural Olympiad, and demonstrates the deep commitment to
evangelism and ecumenical mission in Jersey.
Youth Evangelist Gareth Baron looked around the congregation on his
first Sunday in Cotgrave Methodist Church in the Nottingham
and Derby District, he realised that the whole
congregation could have been sat with him in the front pew, but
instead they were scattered very thinly indeed across a Victorian
building designed for 150.
Five years later, the pews replaced by chairs, the
Sunday congregation of 30-40 is multi-generational and thriving.
Many congregation members now volunteer with children and young
people, and the wider community has been encouraged to reconsider
the needs of its youth.
A growing group of young people have found a home with the
Sunday morning congregation, and two 11-year-olds will be baptised
this summer - they have asked for the service to fall during
term-time, so that they can invite their friends to hear about
Disproportionate resources, including money, time, skills,
prayer and tears have been generously poured into this project. A
church that the circuit expected would be closed by now has not
only been enabled to breathe new life into a troubled community,
but has come alive in ways that those involved could scarcely have
opposite ends of the Lancashire District, exciting
evangelism is taking place.
In Morecambe, a new congregation is being planted in Central
Methodist Church, which closed its doors in January 2011.
This was part of the mission strategy of the
circuit to invite a nearby church outside of Lancaster, Brookhouse,
to plant a new way of being church in this very needy
The mission has focussed on exciting activities for young
people, and a congregation of young adults is continuing to
In the Burnley Circuit, on the edge of a poor and needy estate,
the Parkside congregation requested permission to cease worship
which was granted in July 2012.
With the arrival of the new superintendent minister, the Revd
Phil Clarke, conversations were held across all the churches about
mission and Parkside reversed their decision and decided to remain
as a presence on the estate.
Through developing messy church, the appointment of a youth
evangelist and a concentration of resources there is now growing
hope that lives will continue to be changed for Christ.