18 January 2007

Celebrating Methodist heritage - all are invited to apply for Heritage Open Days scheme

In order to help celebrate the Methodist anniversaries in 2007, the Civic Trust has offered 300 places to The Methodist Church as part of their annual Heritage Open Days weekend (Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th September 2007). This means that up to 300 churches, chapels or sites of Methodist interest, have an opportunity to open their doors to the general public for tours, special services, drama, music, exhibitions and a whole range of events for young and old, all aimed at highlighting their rich heritage, Christian story, mission and work in local communities across the Connexion.

'This is a one-off opportunity and we want as many Methodist churches or sites to take part as possible,' says Revd David Gamble, Co-ordinating Secretary for Legal and Constitutional Practice. 'Because of the 2007 anniversaries the Civic Trust has offered us about 10% of the places for this year's Heritage Open Days, but they made it clear that it is only for this year. We should make the most of this: in a year when Methodists have so much to commemorate, let's celebrate as much of our heritage as possible.'

As well as celebrating the various anniversaries - including the tercentenary of the birth of Charles Wesley and the bicentenary of the first camp meeting of Primitive Methodism at Mow Cop in Staffordshire - 2007 will also see the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade, something that had the on-going support of John and Charles Wesley and other early Methodists.

Each of the anniversaries lends itself to dramatic and other interpretation to both Methodists and members of the general public, allowing churches not only to reflect on their own heritage but also the part they currently play in their community.

'A wide range of events for Heritage Open Days has already been planned, including open days, tours, music and drama as well as items for children and young people' says David Gamble. 'We are anxious for others to take part and it is not only an opportunity for older churches to reflect on their past but also for modern contemporary buildings and sites to focus on their spirituality in event form. It's a great opportunity for us to tell our story to people who don't generally hear it.'

Further details of Methodist Anniversaries and application forms to take part in Heritage Open Days can be obtained from: Adam Dyjasek, Methodist Church House 25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR Tel. 0207 467 5125. Website: www.methodistanniversaries2007.org.uk

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