More service stories

Hospitality at the Ashbourne Show
From: Ashbourne Circuit

100 packets of biscuits, and enough tea, coffee and juice to dunk them in, was served at the Ashbourne Show by members of the Ashbourne Circuit.

More than 11,000 people attended the annual agricultural and animal husbandry show this year, at which the circuit hosted a welcome space of hospitality and refreshment.

Alongside refreshments, activities for young people were available, as well as information about the work and witness of the Methodist Church throughout the circuit. This year the circuit also partnered with two chaplains from Rural Action Derbyshire to offer pastoral support and encouragement.

Superintendent minister, the Revd Tim Morris said: "We've seen some people make a bee-line for us each year, as they know they will receive a warm and friendly welcome - and a great cup of tea!

"It's really encouraging to see us as a circuit getting together in commitment to serving the show community. Providing generous hospitality, offering a listening ear and being a place of welcome and openness to all."

Source: Buzz 170 

Making the most of every opportunity
From: Redcar, Yorkshire

On a sunny Sunday this summer, the route of the cycle race in the Redcar Triathlon took it down a narrow road, passing right in front of Zetland Park Methodist Church, Redcar, restricting access to the building for the whole morning.

But not wanting to cancel their Sunday morning service, the church council decided to take their service outside and engage with the event and cycle supporters instead.

With bunting and flags aplenty, a worship band, light refreshments and activities for the children, the congregation sung praises and cheered for the cyclists for over three hours. Mindful that there were three separate races, and each competitor had to do the cycle course four times, there was a lot of cheering!

The day after the event a competitor from the Wirral emailed the church to say how much he had appreciated the encouragement. He said: "Your cheers were by far the warmest and loudest on the whole course, and were truly appreciated by me and I am sure many more competitors.

"Your support certainly helped me get around the course and, in seeing that there are still people who will unselfishly give up their Sunday to support complete strangers, who are visiting their town, your actions placed life and living in a much wider and positive perspective."

The church also received an official 'thank you' from the TriHard UK and Redcar & Cleveland Council, saying: "A great number of the competitors commented on how excellent the support was around the Crescent area and how it gave them a boost as they passed the area." 

Source: Buzz 169 

Bible Banks
From: Black Country Mission

An ecumenical initiative has set up 'Bible Banks' across the West Midlands to give away Bibles to those who do not have one, for free.

The Black Country Mission, who facilitate the initiative, has so far given away over 20,000 Bibles to homes, schools and residents around the area.

Rob Jones, on behalf of Black Country Mission, said: "The rapid growth of Bible Banks has been quite remarkable!

"There are now thirteen churches in the West Midlands with Bible Banks, compared to the five involved only a few months ago.

"As churches, it makes sense for us to give out free Bibles to those who do not have a Bible at home. Bible Banks can be made child friendly too and encourage church members to bring along any spare Bibles that they might not be using at home."

Source: Buzz 168 

Responding to disaster
From: Notting Hill Methodist Church, London

The tragedy that took place at Grenfell Tower on 14 June has touched many hearts across the world.

The London District Chairs, the President and Vice-President of the Conference (now former) and the Conference itself all shared their grief and their prayers.

But it has been the work on the ground that should really be highlighted: the amazing support of local volunteers, Notting Hill Methodist Church and the Revd Mike Long.

At one of the prayer vigils Mike said: "There are times when all the words we can say are not adequate and sometimes words fail us because no words can do justice to how we feel, or what we have seen or what has happened."

Three tonnes of food were donated and many more tonnes of clothes and toiletries, which have all been shared or are in the middle of being processed. Further donations of goods are not required, but money for those affected is still greatly appreciated.

As well as being a base for donations, holding prayer vigils and organising community action, the church has extended its opening hours for prayer, reflection and practical assistance from 9.00 in the morning until 7.00 at night Monday-Saturday - a true hub for the local community.

Many candles were lit and Mike later spoke of the importance of lighting candles as a sign not only of grieving but also of a faith that dares to hope.

For updates and information on how you can help, please visit the website.

Source: Buzz 167 

Disaster training with Street Pastors
From: Central Methodist Church, Chippenham

A light aircraft crash into a shopping centre was the scenario Street Pastors found themselves thrown into as they took part in a training exercise in Chippenham.

Fifteen response pastors from Chippenham and the South West took part in the pilot exercise, which was held at the Central Methodist Church.

The purpose of the training exercise was to train Street Pastors in how to deal with emergency situations and how they can help people in any situation.

Michael Weeks, co-ordinator of Chippenham Street Pastors, said: "We had several volunteers role-playing a variety of characters including a man who'd lost his daughter, a journalist trying to get quotes, traumatised witnesses… and we had to try and get information from them.

"Our hope is that it's something that's done again because we got so much out of it."

The charity patrols the streets of Chippenham on Saturdays and offers help and support to people who may need it, handing out foil blankets, bottles of water and flip-flops, and ensuring that people travel home safely.

Source: Buzz 166 

£7,000 in six days
From: Churches Together in Maldon, Essex

Churches Together in Maldon have been working with the Maldon District Council to raise money and provide accommodation for refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.

In 2016, the local council pledged to support the refugees, but said it could not rehome them in Maldon as there was no housing available. However, since being contacted by the church group, meetings were held with council leader Miriam Lewis and a formal offer of accommodation has been made to the Home Office.

Geoffrey Vale, of Churches Together, said: "Within two days we had raised £2,000. Then by the meeting - six days after we had notice - we were up to £7,000."

Source: Buzz 165 

A Space for Prayer
From: Border Mission Circuit, Nottingham & Derby District

Children in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire have been taking part in a new Scripture Union initiative that helps young people explore the wealth and depth of prayer.

'Prayer Spaces' encourages churches and schools to set up a designated prayer room with a variety of exciting and interactive stations, for classes of children to explore as part of their Religious Education curriculum.

Becca Goody, the Circuit's Youth and Children's Worker, said: "I've run prayers paces in three places now, two of which were in a church and one in a school.

"Each Prayer Space has been absolutely fantastic, with every child engaging in different ways, including children who would usually struggle to concentrate.

"One child prayed a prayer for the first time inviting Jesus into his life, another teacher confessed she had been worried about bringing them due to their behaviour but had 'never seem them engage so well!'

"I feel it has really deepened the Circuit's relationship with the local schools and I have felt truly blessed to be a part of it."

Source: Buzz 164

Celebrating Ministries
From: Littleover Methodist Church, Derby

A Methodist church in Derbyshire hosted a celebration of ministries during a special service this month.

During the morning, the congregation were encouraged to learn more about the many different activities that members were involved in and a series of boards showcasing the variety of ministries were put on display.

The church's minister, the Revd Gareth Higgs, said of the celebration: "It was a wonderful time, as we abandoned our traditional pattern of morning worship to focus on the different ways people serve the church.

"We have over 50 different ministries being run by the church or in which people from the church serve - including Messy Church, children and youth groups, over 50's groups, our minibus-to-church service and plenty more.

"It really encouraged us as a church and helped people to see where they could get involved."

(Source: Buzz 163)  

Youth Work Awards
From: Across the Nation

An award ceremony held in London recognised the dedication and achievement of youth workers from across the country.

The Christian Youth Work Awards 2016, an initiative of Youthscape and co-sponsored by the Methodist Church, were won by a variety of youth leaders and pioneers from across the country.

At the award ceremony, held in the chapel of the prestigious London School of Theology, awards were presented for the six different categories.

Rebecca Willett, from St Alban's Church in Fulham, was named Youth Worker of the Year for her work both with young people in the church and local estates, partnering with local authorities to provide activities for young people.

Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Chris Haddon who has been serving at the Hub in Halesowen for seven years, where he connects with young people over games, remembering details to follow up at a later date.

Stroud youth work organisation, The Door, took Best Youth Work Employer, honoured for their commitment to staff pastoral support and discipleship as well as the practicalities of work.

Best Youth Work Resource was given to Seriously Awkward - a set of youth work session material from the Children's Society, tackling some of the biggest topics from teenagers with a gentle Christian perspective.

And Diverse Church won Most Innovative Youth Work for their online and regional work with over 300 young LGBT+ Christians, offering positive peer-to-peer support as they seek to live faithfully within the church.

The ceremony was hosted by Youthscape's CEO, Chris Curtis and Ellis Jones, Youthscape Youth Ambassador, Curtis said: "The annual awards are a fantastic opportunity to celebrate some of the amazing youth work happening in churches across the UK. We hope the stories of the youth workers and projects honoured this evening will inspire others and give them confidence in the work they do with teenagers in their communities." 

(Source: Buzz Bumped Edition 162) 

Together Creating Communities
From: Guardian Charity Awards

A charity with Methodist links in Wales has won a prestigious award for their services to the community in last year's Guardian Charity Awards.

Trefnu Cymunedol Cymru/Together Creating Communities (TCC) is an alliance of faith organisations, community groups and schools from across North East Wales, who tackle social injustice through supporting local communities.  

Chair of Synod Cymru, the Revd Jennie Hurd, also Chair of Trustees for TCC, said: "We are all so thrilled that all those involved with TCC, past and present, have been recognised nationally for their hard work and many successes.

"The £3,000 that we have won, together with the package of support from the award sponsors, will help us to improve where we need to and we are looking forward to becoming all we can."

(Source: Buzz Bumped Edition 162)   

National Award
From: Wolverhampton

A ground-breaking church initiative in Wolverhampton city centre has won a national award for its work with young adults.

Wolverhampton Pioneer Ministries (WPM), also known as Vitalise, is a joint initiative between the Diocese of Lichfield and the Methodist Church to reach and equip local young adults, many of whom are from marginalised backgrounds.

WPM won the gold award for the Best Project Advancing the Christian Faith at the national Christian Funders' Forum (CFF) Awards which was commemorated at a special ceremony at Lambeth Palace in November.

The award was collected by the project Team Leader Deborah Walton and Nicola Turner, Young Adult Outreach Coordinator.

Deborah said: "Wolverhampton Pioneer Ministries is thrilled to have won the award. It recognises the hard work and commitment of everyone involved in our mission to marginalised young adults in Wolverhampton: funders, staff and volunteers. It is a celebration of all that our community is and has achieved. We hope and pray that this will help us continue and develop our mission; it is certainly a huge encouragement to everyone who is part of WPM."

WPM was established in 2007 as a 'Fresh Expressions' church for the under 30s in Wolverhampton, to worship and to love and serve those in the city. Fresh Expressions is a key strand of the Diocese of Lichfield's Reaching New Generations programme.

WPM holds Sunday meetings in Darlington Street Methodist Church alongside other daily morning prayer gatherings and small groups at different venues. Several people were baptised and confirmed at a recent service at St Chad and St Mark in Penn Fields. 

(Source: Buzz Bumped Edition 162)   

The Poppy Project
From: Forest Hill Methodist Church, London

A community in London banded together to create a moving display for their Remembrance Sunday Service last year.

Beginning in July, members of Forest Hill Methodist Church involved friends, family and neighbours as they embarked on a project to hand craft poppies for the special service.

By the time of the service, more than 500 poppies were lovingly made through a mixture of sewing and knitting.

Sue Rhodes, who initiated the project, said: "After the silence on Remembrance Sunday, we worked together to fashion a cross of poppies on the floor. During the intercession prayers, we took white poppies (representing peace) from the font, and scattered them around the cross. After the service, we tied the poppies onto the tennis court fence, making a poppy shape out of our handmade poppies. It was beautiful.

"It is fantastic what can be achieved when we work together, each of us doing what we can, when we can!"

(Source: Buzz Bumped Edition 162)  

Supporting Survivors of Modern Slavery
From: Adavu, Birmingham

Adavu, a project of the Birmingham Methodist District, has launched a new Aftercare Support Project for adult survivors of modern slavery in the West Midlands.

This project, funded by the Lloyds Foundation, enables Adavu to offer tailored long term support to adult survivors.  

Adavu Director, Deacon Kerry Scarlett, said: "Government funded aftercare provides just 45 days accommodation and support for victims of modern slavery. However, many moving on from this support struggle to make the transition into life in an unfamiliar local community, and there are very few dedicated aftercare services across the country.

"This new support service enables us to work with survivors to help them identify their practical, emotional, social and cultural needs and continue to work with survivors to empower them to take the steps they need to build a new life for themselves, free from exploitation."

Adavu works in collaboration with other local charities and Methodist churches.

Kerry added: "The project just wouldn't have been possible without the support of congregations all across the district who prayed for us, raised money for us, and kept encouraging us to keep going."

(Source: Buzz Bumped Edition 162) 

Our First Christmas Meal
From: Willerby Methodist Church, Hull

A Willerby husband and wife will spend their first Christmas as a married couple hosting a feast for elderly residents who would otherwise have spent the day on their own.

Debbie and Nick Crohn will be serving a full Christmas dinner followed by films and games at Willerby Methodist Church. They have already had some meat donated for the event, and they will be raising funds to go towards the cost of food.

Debbie said they both spoke to people who would be spending Christmas on their own, and were keen to help.

She said: "It's snowballed. It's a just a small thing we wanted to do at the Methodist Church but people seem to have got behind it. We've now even been offered a minibus to pick people up to make sure they can get here."

Debbie and Nick, who is a lay preacher at the church, will spend Christmas morning together with family before gathering at the church for the festive feast.

She said: "I think it's a great opportunity to give something back at Christmas.

"Sometimes when people pass on or family members move away, people can feel isolated and we want to make them know that's not the case."


Many other churches across the Connexion are also planning Christmas Day celebrations for those in the community who might otherwise be alone, including  Thrum Hall Methodist Church, Rochdale.

(Source: Christmas Special, Buzz 161)   

Harwood Has Talent
From: Harwood Methodist Church, Bolton

A church in Lancashire undertook a novel way to raise £35,000 towards its building project by organising a community talent contest.

The church hall is used by a number of groups in the local area, but the Victorian chapel is in need of repairs and is becoming unfit for purpose.

Contacting the different organisations in the local area, the church invited them to display their talents at a special 'gift day', where acts would have 30 minutes to demonstrate their skills and dazzle the audience.

A variety of talents were on show throughout the day including: ukulele playing, ballet, line dancing, toddler percussionists, floral arts, musical theatre, poetry readings and more!

Paintings by local artists were also exhibited as well as a fundraising café and a Christmas card stall, selling cards designed by members of the Sunday school.

Harwood's minister, the Revd Ian Smart, and the architect, Mustaq Saleri, joined the Stewards in inviting the attendees to view and discuss the detailed plans for the inspiring new church campus and take part in a virtual tour of what is to come. 

(Source: Buzz 160)    

Peace Garden
From: Thetford Methodist Church, Norfolk

Earlier this year, Thetford Methodist Church, unveiled a newly erected Peace Pole and Peace Garden.

Many months in the making, the garden and pole are an initiative of the church to give back to the local community.

The service of dedication was led by the committee that had been involved with the design and construction of the garden and also included a short talk by the Revd Fred King who, at 94, is the church's oldest active member.

As well as many members from the church and locals people from the community, a number of local councillors and the mayor also attended.

All added stones from their gardens as signs of their own commitment to peace.

The Revd Ken Nicholls, a supernumerary minister at the church, said: "With everyone rushing around all the time, it seemed appropriate that with the vacant space we had next to the church building we could provide a place of calm for quiet and reflection."

(Source: Buzz 159)   

Good Samaritan
From: Meeting Point Café, Leeds North and East Methodist Circuit

The Leeds North and East Methodist Circuit café, The Meeting Point, had a real life 'Good Samaritan' experience recently, when a young man was brought in from the streets in need of medical attention.

Robbed of his money and essential medication, Bob* was found beaten and lying dazed in one of the nearby streets.

Two young passer-byes were true 'Samaritans' and brought him to the café to ask for help.

The Café manager saw that he needed to medical attention immediately and quickly summoned a taxi, paying for the fare to the local hospital.  

*Not his real name

(Source: Buzz 158)  

147 Years Young
From: Lessingham Methodist Church, Norfolk

Hundreds gathered up and down the country in July to celebrate the 147th anniversary of Action for Children, a charity with long standing Methodist roots.

Lessingham Methodist Church was just one of the many churches that celebrate the charity's anniversary: holding a special service looking at the work of the charity. Community fundraiser, Abbi Lang, gave a talk about the different services the charity offers to disadvantaged children and their families, and shared information on their 'Fair By Five' campaign, calling on the Government to ensure that every child reaches a good level of development by the time they start school.

During the service, there was also a surprise presentation to Nancy Cook who received a framed certificate thanking her for her service. Now in her 80s, Nancy has supported Action for Children since she was nine years old through her farm shop with her husband selling jams, sunny smiles, League of Light lanterns and collections at church. Records do not go back far enough, but she has most likely raised over £50,000 for the charity so far!

Speaking to Nancy and all of Action for Children's supporters, Karis Kolawole, Head of Church Partnerships, said: "We can't thank you enough. Your thoughts, prayers and generous donations go a long way in helping us make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged children. God bless you richly!" 

(Source: Buzz 157) 

Thank you!
From: The Methodist Conference 2016, London

In a behind the scenes interview with the Revd Dr Roger Walton, President of the Methodist Conference, Roger said: "If it wasn't for the hundreds of volunteers and staff that support the Conference behind the scenes, many of the things that go on simply wouldn't have happened. Behind the scenes is extraordinary. The Conference is only made possible by the many, many staff and volunteers in their different roles."

Every year scores of volunteers give their time and energy to help the running of a smooth Methodist Conference. This year in London was no exception, which saw more than 50 volunteers come to help from across the country.

Volunteers support the Conference throughout the week in a variety of ways serving on a number of teams as stewards, drivers, media volunteers, helpdesk assistants, runners and more.

If you like the sound of volunteering and would like more information on becoming a volunteer for the Conference next year in Birmingham, please contact Carole Booth using the email below.

(Source: Buzz 156)    

Stepping Out
From: Maghull Methodist Church, Merseyside

Earlier this year, Maghull Methodist Church Ladies' Fellowship decided to join the fun of Sports Relief and do a sponsored stagger from the church to local shopping square, about ¾ mile.

"With dodgy tickers, hip replacements and a myriad of other age related inconveniences, ¾ of a mile can actually feel like a marathon," said Glynis James. "However, we were undaunted and enticed by the promise of free tea and coffee generously supplied by our local Costa Coffee!

"I have a theory that no one thought we would actually do it so they wouldn't have to pay up! How wrong they were!"

By last week the ladies had already raised an amazing sum of £1,000.

"People's generosity continues to amaze and humble me. Kindnesses shown by strangers (such as the taxi driver who gave me money!) and the goodness in folk that are all around us in such abundance should help us all to remember that in this world of injustice, greed and terrorism we can still claim that love is powerful and tangible," Gynis continued.  

"May God bless everyone who walked, contributed and helped us raise such a wonderful total and may He bless everyone that will benefit from it wherever they may be."

(Source: Buzz 155)    

Endurance Challenge
From: The Revd John Beardsley

A 73-year-old supernumerary Methodist minister, who was never picked for team games in PE at school, is walking all 225 miles of the Severn Way for Christian Aid this May, in an extreme endurance challenge.

The Revd John Beardsley, who lives in Tewkesbury, began a tradition of endurance challenges in 1978 when he climbed the UK's three highest peaks in just 23 hours to raise money for the charity.

Following the River Severn from its source in Plynlimon, Wales, to its end near Bristol, this year John will be walking for 19 continuous days, beginning yesterday (5 May) and ending at the world's oldest Methodist chapel, the New Room, in Bristol on 23 May.

Christian Aid Week, Britain's longest running door-to-door fundraising week, raised more than £11 million for the world's poorest communities in 2015 and this year is urging the public to show love for their global neighbours by taking part in special services, collections, and events including Big Brekkies around the country.

John said: "Christian Aid is such a worthwhile cause, acting as a catalyst so that money raised in this country can be efficiently used all over the world. Helping to bring immediate relief after disasters and promoting development that enables people to help themselves."

If you would like to sponsor John on his journey and raise money for Christian Aid you can find out more details on his Just Giving page. Or for more about Christian Aid, click here.

(Source: Buzz 154)   

Hot-Cross Commuters
From: Wokingham Methodist Church, Berkshire

Commuters were given a tasty treat in the lead up to Easter, thanks to members of Wokingham Methodist Church.

More than 800 hot cross buns were handed out at Wokingham Station.

This is the third year that members of the Church have taken part in the early morning giveaway.

It was coordinated by Rose Street Church's community and outreach worker, Andy Knight, who said: "It is an important and established part of the church's calendar. People look forward to it.

"The reaction seems to get better every year. People say they wonder what day we will be here - it's been very, very positive.

The buns, which are packed with a napkin telling the Easter story, were prepared by 16 volunteers on Monday and Mr Knight said that it was a fast activity.

"We broke our own record for assembly with a time of just 1 hour 35 minutes. It knocked an hour off the previous best!"

(Source: Buzz 153 - Easter)  

Dedication to the cause
From: America

Asbury wasn't the only British preacher at work in the colonies, but as the altercation that would later be called the "Revolutionary War" began to heat up and spill over into bloodshed, British preachers returned home for fear of reprisals.

Asbury, however, stayed where he was as his fellow countryman preachers returned to England.

Eventually, he was the only one of his kind in the territory. While this added to his workload, it did not deter him from his mission. As worldly powers waged war over money, territory and pride, Asbury was proclaiming the Kingdom of God every night and day as he rode horseback from meeting to meeting. He was so dedicated to the cause that he was regularly ill, suffering from frequent colds, coughs, fevers, headaches, ulcers and eventually chronic rheumatism - which would eventually force him off of his horse and into a carriage.

(Source: Buzz 152 - Asbury Special)     

Je suis Refugee
From: Social Responsibility Commission, London District

Almost a dozen Methodist ministers held a peaceful vigil at the French Embassy on Monday 18 January to protest about the conditions in which refugees are existing in camps at Calais and Dunkirk.

The vigil took place between midday and 3 pm, with protestors holding placards saying 'Je suis Refugee', as a mark of solidarity with the refugees whose voices are not being heard.

A letter, urging co-operation between France and the UK to improve the conditions of the refugee camps and better address the refugee situation in general, was signed by the group and given to the French President Hollande and the British Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Revd David Haslam said: "We recognise that terrible things have happened in France over the last twelve months, but that does not excuse the appalling treatment of families, young people and, in some cases, lone children who are living in wholly inhuman conditions.

"Many Christians, and others, have offered hospitality to refugees should they arrive in the UK," said the Revd Haslam. "Surely an agreement could be reached with the French and British governments to bring in some of those who are only 20 miles from our shores."

The vigil took place with the support of the Social Responsibility Commission of the Methodist London District, a number of whose members were present on the day.

(Source: Buzz 151)     

Scarecrows saving lives
From: Kearsley Mount Methodist Church, Bolton

Working with Churches Together on the Mount, Kearsley Mount Methodist Church, Bolton, held their first Scarecrow Festival last year, celebrating Harvest festival with the local community.

Over 200 entries were submitted and more than £6,000 raised for community defibrillators, smashing the target of 70 scarecrows raising £3,000.

The Revd Stephen Radford, superintendent of the Farnworth & Worsley Circuit, said: "The event raised the Kearsley community profile and produced real pride in what was achieved. All of the local primary and secondary schools took part along with seven pubs and over twenty local businesses!"

The second Kearsley Scarecrow Festival is scheduled to take place over two days in September.

(Source: Bumper Buzz Speciial 150)    

Open doors to the local community
From: Mount Charles Methodist Church, St Austell

Following four years of planning, fundraising and hard work, a new community facility was opened in Mount Charles, St Austell in June.

The congregation at Mount Charles Methodist Church saw the project as an opportunity to provide a much needed community facility.

Opened by the Revd Steve Wild, Chair of the Cornwall Methodist District and now President of the Methodist Conference, the property offers comfortable meeting areas with a fully-equipped open plan kitchen, Wi-Fi and a screen for PowerPoint presentations. There is disabled access, cloakrooms with a shower and parking spaces. A nearby bus stop also provides access to the local transport network.

On opening the new building the Revd Steve Wild said: "This is a wonderful facility for the community and I pray that the love of Christ will be shared here."

The new facilities have already attracted much interest from local groups that represent all sectors of the community, including the elderly, disabled and young mothers.

(Source: Bumper Buzz Speciial 150)     

Community Action
From: Sandylands Methodist Church, Kendal

Penrith Auction Market was filled to capacity in August as people gathered from all across the county and beyond to take part in a special celebration launching the Cumbrian Agricultural Chaplaincy.

Leader of the chaplaincy project, the Revd Chris Blackshaw, said: "To let people know we are here to help them, we used all forms of media, such as local radio, press, TV, Twitter, Facebook and leaflets, which had been kindly sponsored by Newton Rigg College, as well as visiting shows and establishing vital links with the agricultural community, especially farmers and vets."

"We are working in partnership with the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution and the Farming Community Network to give proactive support. We meet farmers and others who service the farming industry, such as vets and Auction Mart staff, in the places where they work."

More recently, the Agricultural Chaplaincy has been working in partnership with relief agencies and support groups in aid of the local community following December's damaging floods.

One amazing story following the floods comes from local preacher Gordon Tweedie. He had 45 pregnant cows washed away in the waters, only to have 41 of them returned unharmed!

(Source: Bumper Buzz Speciial 150)     

Barley room in the market
From: Agricultural Chaplaincy, Cumbria District

Penrith Auction Market was filled to capacity in August as people gathered from all across the county and beyond to take part in a special celebration launching the Cumbrian Agricultural Chaplaincy.

Leader of the chaplaincy project, the Revd Chris Blackshaw, said: "To let people know we are here to help them, we used all forms of media, such as local radio, press, TV, Twitter, Facebook and leaflets, which had been kindly sponsored by Newton Rigg College, as well as visiting shows and establishing vital links with the agricultural community, especially farmers and vets."

"We are working in partnership with the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution and the Farming Community Network to give proactive support. We meet farmers and others who service the farming industry, such as vets and Auction Mart staff, in the places where they work."

More recently, the Agricultural Chaplaincy has been working in partnership with relief agencies and support groups in aid of the local community following December's damaging floods.

One amazing story following the floods comes from local preacher Gordon Tweedie. He had 45 pregnant cows washed away in the waters, only to have 41 of them returned unharmed!

(Source: Bumper Buzz Speciial 150)    

A caring community
From: Woodford Methodist Community Church, Plymouth

Woodford Methodist Community Church opened its doors to the local Plymouth community following the sudden death of Carol Woodward, the head teacher of a nearby primary school.

Due to the large amount of building and construction work being carried out on the school, the church opened its doors to those mourning the loss of the much-loved head teacher.

A condolence book was opened, an area of grass was made available for flowers and prayer cards to be left, and the church was staffed to offer space and to give comfort to the school's staff, parents and children.

The church had a close relationship with the Mrs Woodward, who had been head teacher at the school since 1996, following her invitation to the church to go into the school and present stories from Open the Book, which it has been doing once a month for the past two years.

Mike Sowden added: "It was an honour to open up our doors to the community around us as a caring church on this deeply sad occasion."

(Source: Bumper Buzz Speciial 150)   

Half a million pounds later...
From: St Andrew's Methodist Church, West Sussex

St Andrew's Methodist Church, Horsham, West Sussex, was original built in 1877 as a Primitive Methodist Chapel. Until recently, its last renovation was 40 years ago in 1976. The church was showing signs of tiredness and in need of some modernisation.

For the past four years, the congregation has saved diligently to undertake some much-needed building work, resulting in the church being closed for most of 2014.

At a cost of more than £500,000, the works bring the church into the 21st century, adding a range of new facilities and modernising others.

The front of the church now has a café, with upper meeting room (leading to a new balcony in the sanctuary). The rear of the church, which was once separated, is now joined by an atrium with modern toilets, an office, and a wheelchair lift.

Large monitors have been installed for better viewing of services and other activities, plus further viewing links in the atrium and rear hall.

Thanks to new lighting, underfloor heating, full insulation, new AV equipment and many other changes, we can now support our community with extensive options. A few community groups already benefiting from the changes include a low cost café, a Job Seekers Club, a foodbank, Boys Brigade for boys and girls, Who Let the Dads Out Club and the Silver Surfers Club.

(Source: Bumper Buzz Speciial 150)   

Special Achievement Award
From: Ecumenical Church of the Nativity, Leicester

Edna Smith, a steward of the Ecumenical Church of the Nativity in Leicester, aged 80, has won the Special Achievement Award for the National Lottery Stars in recognition of her many years of voluntary service and her impact on the lives of literally hundreds of families in the area. 

Having been a volunteer with the charity Home-Start, Edna has visited families and staffed several parent and toddler groups every week for the past 15 years.

The mum of four, grandmother of ten and great-grandmother of two, said: "It was with mixed emotions that I accepted the award from the National Lottery - delighted, shocked, humbled and very privileged".

The Special Achievement Award was broadcast at the end of the National Lottery Stars programme on BBC One.

"Needless to say, the church community is very proud of her achievement," added the Revd Fran Rhys, minister of the Ecumenical Church of the Nativity.

(Source: Buzz 149)   

Compassion in Action
From: Holmfirth Methodist Church, Huddersfield

Ros Walker, of Scholes Methodist Church, Holmfirth, started a collection for Syrian refugees, after seeing harrowing pictures of the refugees on television. "From an initial point of wondering who I could write to, I realised that something more tangible needed to happen." Ros was not the only one feeling the same way and through the local community group on Facebook, she linked up with other people determined to make things happen. "We contacted Holmfirth Methodist church, which had  a more central location and a small amount of storage, and they agreed to open the doors as a drop-off point. At the same time, another local village, Meltham, had opened the doors to their Carlisle Institute."

From humble beginnings, the collection grew and grew with over 1,000 boxes of aid from local donors in West Yorkshire collected. Donations included a variety of warm clothes, sleeping bags, toiletries and more.

Initially housed in Holmfirth Methodist Church, the collection had to be moved to a larger venue because of the sheer overwhelming volume of support from the local community. Once sorted and boxed, the 1,000 plus boxes were sent on to Syria Relief in Manchester for distributing.

Ros added, "We learned a huge amount very quickly and we are grateful to all the volunteers, to Holmfirth Methodist Church for opening its doors, to all the donors, the Carlisle Institute in Meltham, a local van hire company and the Post Office for transport." 

If you would like to set up a collection point, but aren't sure where to start, why not get in touch?

(Source: Buzz 148)   

Great Swim
From: World Mission Fund

Helen Cunningham, of the Newcastle upon Tyne District, has raised almost £2,000 for the World Mission Fund by swimming one mile across Loch Lomond in the Great Scottish Swim.

Following months of training and preparation, Helen joined over two and half thousand other swimmers and hundreds of safety-canoes to swim part of the Scottish Loch.

Describing the experience, Helen said "The wind was quite hard against us, but I felt determined to carry on. Toward the end I even took my goggles off so I could have a look at the beautiful mountains around and look for my husband in the crowd who was cheering me on!"

Initially hoping to raise £1,000, Helen approached local churches and church councils challenging them to donate just £1 per member in support. At the time of writing, Helen has smashed this target having raised £1,994 and counting.

Speaking on why she decided to raise money for the World Mission Fund, Helen said "I grew up a missionary kid. When I was a child, my parents, John and Sharon Harbottle, worked at Maua Methodist Hospital in Kenya as mission partners, and now they're serving in Haiti with Eglise Methodiste d'Haiti. It was the World Mission Fund that made it possible for them to do this. 
The World Mission Fund supports God's transforming work to happen around the world, which is bringing about the Kingdom of God on earth. "

If you think you could do something incredible to raise money for the Methodist Church, why not click here and see how you could become a Fund Raising Champion like Helen.

Helen is continuing to collect sponsorship throughout October to give church councils enough time to join in the £1 per member challenge. If you would like to take part and donate, click on the web-link below. 

(Source: Buzz 147)  

Baring soles for leprosy
From: Stamford & Rutland Circuit, Northampton

The Revd Andy Fyall, Superintendent Minister of the Stamford and Rutland Circuit, challenged colleagues from the churches in Stamford to 'bare their soles' in a bid to raise awareness of some of the world's most marginalised people.

Those taking part walked barefoot through Stamford Market in support of The Leprosy Mission's Feet First campaign which provides protective foot-ware and specialist foot-care groups for leprosy-affected people in Mozambique. Leprosy causes nerve damage and robs people of all feeling in their hands and feet. This means that sufferers can easily hurt their feet without even noticing, which can lead to terrible infection, deformities and even amputation. Leprosy leaves many no longer able to work for a living, forcing them to beg to survive.

Speaking on what motivated him to join in the campaign, Andy said "After hearing about the project at a fundraising concert, I basically felt God say to me 'you need to do this', it was a real voice in my ear. I then felt Him tell me that I need to challenge other clergy to do it with me and then we were blessed to have some willing parishioners join us. Although it was hard on our feet for the morning, it's nothing compared to what those suffering from leprosy suffer with every day."

(Source: Buzz 146) 

Thank you!
From: The Methodist Conference, Southport

Every year scores of volunteers give their time and energy to help the running of a smooth Methodist Conference. This year at Southport was no exception, which saw over 50 local volunteers come to help.

Volunteers support the Conference throughout the week in a variety of ways serving a number of teams as stewards, drivers, helpdesk assistants, runners and more.

But as well as local volunteers, there was also the 16-strong Conference Arrangements Team, many of whom had worked on the Conference for several years since the time when the Conference was entirely produced by volunteers and who ensure smooth running operations year after year. Several of the people on this team have roles that start well in advance of Conference - such as Carole, who recruits and manages the local volunteers; and Paul and Rachel, who design and manage the worship. The Arrangements Team also includes a Technical Manager, Floor Manager, Hospitality team, the Chaplain and the people who run the year-round Conference memorabilia and gift business. And don't forget the the 8-strong Worship Band, most of whom were present from Friday-Sunday with some staying on site for the duration of the Conference.

If you like the sound of volunteering and would like more information on becoming a volunteer for next year's Conference, please contact Carole Booth using the email below.

(Source: Buzz 145) 

Foodbanks Report
From: Evesham Methodist Church, Stratford and Evesham Circuit

Evesham Methodist Church was a key sponsor of a booklet issued in April about foodbanks. It had information about how the local foodbanks operated. The main one, Caring Hands, is located at the independent evangelical church, with supplementary provision at other local churches. The booklet included stories of desperate people needing help from churches and other local agencies. One man said the Caring Hands foodbank saved his life.

The report was issued in the run up to the general election, sent to all candidates and distributed at the local hustings. The booklet quotes from reports by the Churches and parliamentarians, which note that foodbank users are often in work but on low income, call for an urgent review of the effects of benefit sanctions and point out that vulnerable people are being left with no means of support.

Local agencies say that basic benefits of £72 per week are very little to live on, especially over a long period of time, and people are falling into debt. They cite clients who have only £5 a week for food after they have paid all their other bills.  

The booklet included information about how the wealthy are growing richer all the time. Bankers whose banks are in disgrace are taking home millions a year, and the richest 1,000 people in the UK have increased their total wealth to over £500 billion.

The booklet highlights that the rich are not being properly taxed and such inequality undermines any sense of us being one human family.

(Source: Buzz 144) 

Tour de Yorkshire
From: North Duffield Methodist Church, Goole & Selby Circuit

When the folk of the Methodist Church in the little rural East Yorkshire village of North Duffield realised that the Tour de Yorkshire Cycle Race was to go right past their church door they decided to hold a full weekend of celebrations and invite the whole village, putting the church very firmly on the map. 

On the Friday evening there was a special (re cycling) Messy Church! to which some 48 children, mums and grandparents came. We re cycled an old bike and decorated it in Tour de Yorkshire colours, had a junk workshop with re cycled boxes, decorated biscuits and re cycled old newpaper into fancy hats as well as making bunting from re cycled yellow pages. The children thought how they could care for God's world and sang a 'cycling song' before enjoying supper together. 

On Saturday morning, the day of the race, we offered a Yorkshire breakfast of Yorkshire bacon butties (150 butties were served) accompanied by mugs of tea to those gathering to watch the race, and on the Sunday morning we held a special celebration service which included an audiovisual presentation on a big screen of the weekend's events. It was a great chance to put our little church at the centre of village celebrations and we pray that all who came into the building will have felt welcome and felt a bit of the love and joy that the Christian faith has to offer.  

(Source: Buzz 143) 

Hot cross buns at Wokingham station
From: Wokingham Methodist Church, Berkshire Surrey Borders Circuit

Members of Wokingham Methodist Church handed out hot cross buns to commuters at Wokingham Station on Maundy Thursday. The initiative saw the volunteers dish out the Easter treats between 5.15am and 8.15am. More than 800 of the buns had been prepared by volunteers in the Bradbury Centre ready to be given out.

The local paper asked, "Did you get one on your commute? Did it brighten up a dull, wet morning?"

Wokingham Methodist Church has now done this several times. It is hugely popular and the church has received much praise for doing this.

(Source: Buzz 142) 

Inter Faith Bake-Off
From: North Harrow Church, Harrow and Hillingdon Circuit

North Harrow Methodist Church, St Alban's parish church, Sinai Mar Thoma church and the Shia Community of Middlesex (SICM) organised an inter faith Bake-Off at St Alban's church hall on 7 February. We had 30 'official' entries, but on the day we were almost overwhelmed with 150 entries which our panel of judges (one Methodist, one Anglican and one Muslim) took two hours to eat their way through. This was an excellent community event which also raised £153 for a water charity in Malawi. 

(Source: Buzz 141) 

Local John Lewis store supports 'Community Kitchen' project
From: Stratton Methodist Church - North Wiltshire Circuit

Stratton Church was pleased to receive a £1,000 donation from the town's John Lewis store towards its community kitchen project.

The people who were part of the project were delighted that John Lewis chose to support it. The church funded the project itself and was committed to making it a free service to all who come.

The Revd Debbie Hodgson said: "Volunteers from the church work hard each month to offer hot meals, and more, to anyone in the community who would like to join them.  This is very intentional as a way to build relationships rather than simply supplying a need."

The project began three years ago, with breakfast and a cooked lunch on offer to everyone, no questions asked. Folk from the Salvation Army hostel in the town centre are among those who are brought in a minibus to be able to share in all that is on offer. Volunteers also share in the meals with those who come as a way of providing company and someone to talk to.

(Source: Buzz 140) 

Methodist minister gains Peace Award
From: Rugby and Daventry Methodist Circuit

Methodist minister, the Revd Clive Fowle - Conflict Resolution Practitioner and Coordinator of Touch of Hope - has been awarded the Krunoslav Sukic Award for the promotion of nonviolence, peacebuilding and human rights by the Centre for Peace, Nonviolence and Human Rights in Osijek, Croatia.

Clive works in the Rugby and Daventry Methodist Circuit and has pastoral care of Long Lawford and Lutterworth churches. He also works as Coordinator of Touch of Hope whose mission is the long term healing of the hurts of war in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia.

The project has three units of training in conflict resolution, healing and reconciliation and facilitation skills in leading workshops. Clive said: "We work with war veterans, community leaders, teachers, NGOs and any individual committed to reconciliation. We work with all people regardless of ethnicity."

Clive expressed his thanks to his family, churches, organisations. "The award is a magnificent affirmation and acknowledgement of the value and importance of the work of reconciliation," Clive added.

Clive is available to give presentations of his peace-building work and to lead workshops on reconciliation themes.

(Source: Buzz 139) 

Oldest church member opens new chapel room
From: St Andrew's Methodist Church, Sheringham

The blessing of the newly refurbished side chapel at St Andrew's Methodist Church, Sheringham, took place on St Andrew's Day last year. Following a reading  and prayer by the Revd David Philo,  St Andrew's oldest church member, 95-year-old Doris West, cut the ribbon to formally open the new side chapel.

The side chapel has been transformed into an area suitable for quiet reflection, prayer, bible study. It's always open to the community. A stunning feature  of the refurbished chapel is the new stained glass window, depicting the cross on Beeston Hill overlooking the sea and the town, surrounded by poppies.  

The design for the window was created by church member, Kim Wordie. Artwork by other church members is also on display and reading material is available for  anyone who uses the area.    

Rosa West, secretary of St Andrew's, said: "We give our grateful thanks to church members Kim Wordie, Helen Barnwell and Helen Middleton for their vision  for this area; to local artist Colin Seals for transforming Kim's design for the window into the beautiful feature and to Graham White and other church  members for all their work. We also give thanks to Doris West for opening the chapel. Mrs West is a lifelong Methodist and member of the former Station Road  chapel before the building of St Andrew's in 1968."

Church members were asked for come up with names for the "new look" area, electing the name "The Poppy Room". There will soon be a box of toys for the  enjoyment of younger church visitors.

(Source: Buzz 138) 

Remembering World War One
From: Aire and Calder Methodist Circuit and Christ Church URC, Castleford

Between Saturday 8 November and Tuesday 11 November, Kippax Methodist Church hosted a community event to remember the people of Kippax and the surrounding area who fought in World War One.

An exhibition retold the stories of the men recorded on Kippax and Ledston Luck's War Memorial, as well as the story of a local woman who was killed while working in a munitions factory.

Schools and youth groups from the neighbouring area provided musical entertainment and poetry recitals throughout the weekend. There was also the opportunity to sample food made from recipes of the era.

The Revd Andrew Checkley said: "The Sunday evening service focused on specific people who are recorded on the memorial. They included the youngest - a sailor aged just 19 - who was the first to be killed; the men killed on the first day of The Battle of the Somme; a munitions worker and the last man to be killed, just six days before the end of hostilities."

A candle was lit for each of the 63 men who were killed in the World War One. On the Monday, more than 100 pupils from the local primary schools viewed the exhibits. They brought wreaths that they laid on the graves of the men buried in St Mary's churchyard. More than 300 people visited the exhibition on Saturday and Sunday.

The event culminated on Tuesday with 35 people congregating to observe the two minutes silence. Funding from the Kippax Parish Council, Leeds City Council, Outer East Community Committee, as well as individuals, made the event possible. Donations were invited for The Royal British Legion and SSAFA (Armed Forces charity).

(Source: Buzz 137) 

Giant puppets
From: Birstall Methodist Church in Leicester

Birstall Methodist Church in north Leicester is working with Bishop Street Methodist Church and other local churches in Leicester city centre in order to create a range of giant nativity puppets for use in outdoor events in the run-up to Christmas.  

The creative team was inspired by a similar project called "In Another Place" by a church group in Crosby who were happy to share their puppet-making methods with Birstall and Bishops Street Methodist churches. The project has two parts: to involve as many community groups as possible and to tell the story of Jesus' birth to people on the streets.  

The Revd Rachel Parkinson said: "We will be using a pre-recorded soundtrack as a backdrop for the puppets to act out a contemporary nativity play. Our puppets will be appearing at the switching on of Christmas lights in Leicester and Birstall, and taking part in the Christingle service at Leicester Cathedral."

(Source: Buzz 136) 

Emergency "rest centre" to the rescue
From: Ashbourne Road Methodist/United Reformed Church, Derby

An emergency 'rest centre' was set up at Ashbourne Road Methodist/United Reformed Church in the Derby Circuit last month.

The emergency services told residents to leave their homes following a chemical incident during the night. Three streets, including a university hall of residence, were evacuated after chemicals were inappropriately mixed at a local business, causing a potentially explosive mixture.  

People were given the go-ahead to return home at 2am after the bomb squad disposed of the chemicals.  

The Revd Jenny Dyer, superintendent minister of the Derby Methodist Circuit, said: "Most of the students were received at another hall of residence, and many people stayed with friends, but around 35 people took refuge at the Ashbourne Road Church, including UK students, and local residents from Latvia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, India, Eritrea and Mongolia. They were received by staff and volunteers of Derbyshire Emergency Control and St John's Ambulance, and local chaplains including the Revd Moira Biggins and myself."

Helpers provided people with drinks, toast, airbeds and blankets so that evacuees could sleep on the church floor and in meeting rooms.

(Source: Buzz 135) 

Reopening of Newbury Methodist Church
From: Newbury Methodist Church, Newbury

The historic Methodist Church in Northbrook Street, Newbury, has been officially reopened after extensive repair and refurbishment work lasting more than nine months.

The church's wooden pews were removed and replaced with comfortable chairs that can be moved around. The light blue finish, large windows and the new glass entrance create a soft, airy atmosphere.

A special Thanksgiving service conducted by the Revd Maree Farrimond was held to celebrate the reopening.  Steward Daphne Snook said: "The service looked at the past, the present and the future of the church. A new painting called 'Make us One' by the local artist, Lynne Pugh, was presented during the service."

Church treasurer, Gordon West, explained that the total cost of about £750,000 was met in roughly equal parts from three sources: the church's reserves; grants from charitable trusts and a generous and timely individual legacy.

Plans are now well under way to develop the 'new' building so that it can be enjoyed by the community as a whole. Dates for events are already in the diary for this autumn, such as Mark Topping's 'Impossible God', a visit by a Christian comedian and a number of musical performances.

The new hospitality area, fronting onto the main shopping street, will be open during the week as a community drop-in centre and café where everyone will be welcome. Access to the heritage of the church, which was built in 1838, is available to anyone who an interest in local history. 

(Source: Buzz 134) 

Church secures planning permission
From: Bingham Methodist Church, Rushcliffe

A project to restore Bingham Methodist Church with a new multi-purpose church and community centre has been granted full planning permission by Rushcliffe Borough Council.

Architects are drawing up a specification for the scheme, which will then go out to contractors for tender. Demolition and building work is expected to start in January 2015.

Bingham Methodist Church has so far raised £1.7million towards the construction via its BReAD appeal. Any additional monies raised will cover supplementary costs  of the building work as well as internal fixtures and fittings.

Samantha Mattos, a member of the congregation, said: "The new centre will provide a multi-use seated area with audio/visual facilities to be used for a  variety of community meetings, and provide a worship space for Catholic mass and Methodist services on Sundays."

The building will feature a large hall with three smaller meeting rooms and an entrance area where refreshments can be served. It will be designed to  minimise energy consumption, using new technologies to provide better access for people, particularly for people who are disabled. A new retail unit facing onto Eaton Place  will be rented out in order to create income towards the upkeep of the premises.

The Revd Richard Tanner said: "Fourteen years of hard work, fundraising and planning have gone into this project so far, and with full planning permission now  secured, we are now looking forward to seeing our plans become reality over the next two years."

(Source: Buzz 133) 

Happy Valley
From: Huddersfield Methodist Mission

If you have been watching the BBC drama Happy Valley over the past six weeks, you will have heard reference to "the Mission". At the Huddersfield Methodist  Mission, people were delighted, not only that the location was used for the filming, but that the Mission was written into the script. Two of the main  characters became regular volunteers at the Mission.

Happy Valley is a dark story which explores the impact of a teenage suicide, serious ill health and current and past drug use on  individuals and society. Indeed, many have asked, "where is the 'happiness' in Happy Valley?"

Paul Bridges, manager of the Huddersfield Mission, said: "Here at the real Mission we see the same sorts of issues playing out in the lives of real people.  But our experience is that there is still lots of happiness and just, as importantly, hope. Hope is the belief that life can be different, life can bebetter. For so many people whose lives have been affected by drugs or mental health or offending or just the difficulties that life can throw at us from  time to time, there can be a belief that life will continue in the same way. A vital part of our work at the Huddersfield Mission is to tell people withconfidence and conviction that life can be different."

Among many other things, Huddersfield Methodist Mission is a widely recognised centre for social support and action in Kirklees. The Mission works with the  needy and vulnerable of all ages, beliefs, races and backgrounds. The Mission's work goes beyond its front doors in cooperation with many caring agencies,  Churches, other denominations, and alongside other faith communities.

"Hope can be a starting point and a destination but people often need help on the journey," said Paul. "We help build people's confidence, self-esteem and  resilience by providing a wide range of activities, such as creative writing, benefits advice, Cook and Eat, resilience training, craft group and sanctions  support all based around our low cost café."

(Source: Buzz 132) 

Hope's Garden is Heaven Scent
From: Edinburgh Methodist Church

Based at the city of Edinburgh Methodist Church's Nicolson Square premises, Hope's Garden is a new aromatherapy small business set up and run by qualifiedtherapist, Angela Wells (pictured). It's part of a wider small business incubation initiative by the church called The Dream Factory, which will have its official launch  later in the year. 

The Dream Factory began with the involvement of Lou Davis, the Methodist Church of Great Britain's Venture FX pioneer leader 
 based in Edinburgh.  Hope's Garden is the pioneering business for the project and opened in April. Angela Wells offers aromatherapy treatments to those with specific health  issues or individuals who enjoy good health and simply want a relaxing and rejuvenating holistic treatment. She also offers specialist pregnancy massages.

As well as treatments available to the general public, Hope's Garden works with the city of Edinburgh Methodist Church to develop links with agencies across  the city, and operates a referral system to individuals accessing the services of those agencies. Angela currently accepts referrals from charities Families  Outside and AMICA (pregnancy crisis centre), both of whose clients will receive reduced cost treatments.

Angela said: "I studied aromatherapy to degree level in Edinburgh, but then suffered from a period of depression and anxiety. With the support of my GP, I  used essential oils as well as conventional medicines to help manage the symptoms. I am so thankful that the church has given me a home for Hope's Garden.  The idea had been forming in my mind during my illness, and with my renewed health, the dream became a reality. I want to give back what has been given to  me, and, through Hope's Garden, I can support others to manage their own well-being so they can lead happier, healthier lives."

A 'Gifted Massage' scheme is part of the ethos of Hope's Garden to make aromatherapy more accessible across all sectors of society. The scheme works when an  aromatherapy treatment voucher is purchased, and then given away (or 'gifted') so that someone else may receive an aromatherapy treatment. These special  vouchers are given to the minister of The City of Edinburgh Methodist Church and distributed to individuals who, mainly for socio-economic reasons, could nototherwise access aromatherapy.

Deacon Belinda Letby, minister of the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church, said: "We're delighted to host Angela's new business as she starts out. As well as  wishing Hope's Garden every success as a business, we believe it is also a real community asset, helping vulnerable people with access to these treatments." 

(Source: Buzz 131) 

Flesh and Blood
From: Chesterfield Methodist Circuit

A Chesterfield Methodist minister who offered his stem cells to save lives is now encouraging local residents to volunteer for blood cancer charity, Anthony Nolan.

The Revd Andrew Checkley donated his stem cells to people in desperate need of bone marrow transplants. He is asking local residents to join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register or become a volunteer visitor  at Sheffield Hospital.

Andrew joined the Anthony Nolan register 22 years ago when he saw a sign in the doctors' surgery asking for bone marrow donors. Two years later, he was matched  to someone in desperate need of a transplant and he travelled to London to donate. 

"I didn't think too much about it at the time," said Andrew, who has spent the past 18 months volunteering to visit people donating their stem cells at Sheffield Hospital. "I thought, if I can do something to help someone else, I will. I was told that the person I was a match 
 for was very ill and there was a chance that they may not make it. Unfortunately, I heard afterwards that they had passed away. It was very sad but I still think it's so important to donate and give someone that chance."

Just five years later, Andrew received another call to say that he was a match for someone else in need of a transplant. This time, Andrew donated by a process called  peripheral blood stem cell collection (PBSC), which is a procedure similar to giving blood and is now used in 90 per cent of donations.

Blood cancer charity, Anthony Nolan, matches remarkable people willing to donate their bone marrow to patients in desperate need of a transplant. 
 In 2012, Anthony Nolan opened a donation centre in Sheffield  and Andrew signed up to volunteer.

(Source: Buzz 130) 

Local football raises money for Street Child World Cup
From: Chandlers Ford Methodist Church, Hampshire

Chandlers Ford Methodist Church played a friendly football match to raise money for the Street Child World Cup, which kicked off in Rio on 28 March 2014. In a game of three halves, 'The Youth' challenged 'The Oldies' to a match on a muddy field, generously lent to them by Merdon Junior School. 

Rolling substitutions enabled everyone to have a go at playing for their team. At the end of the game, the score was 5-2 to 'The Oldies'.

Pamela Madders, church member, said: "Blessed by a dry, if chilly afternoon, the match was well supported by an enthusiastic crowd of church members and friends. The hot dogs kindly donated by ASDA were appreciated."

With well over 50 players and supporters, Chandlers Ford Methodist Church raised more than £650 for the Street Child World Cup.

The Revd Peter Cornick said: "People were inspired that in Rio, street children will experience the joy of football and campaign for justice. Our football match gave us an opportunity for joy too, but also helped us pray for the street children whilst we played."

(Source: Buzz 129) 

80 Years a Preacher
From: Fakenham Methodist Church, Norfolk Circuit, East Anglia District

Fakenham Methodist Church recently celebrated Stanley Cobley's 100th birthday and 80 years of his service to the Church as a Methodist preacher.

Stanley Cobley is Fakenham's longest serving local preacher, having been received onto full-plan in 1934 - the year Ramsay MacDonald was British Prime Minister and George V was on the throne. Stanley has been married to his wife, Peggy, for 73 years. The couple live together with their daughter at her home near Fakenham.

The Revd Andrew King, superintendent minister, presented Stanley with a certificate made by the Circuit to celebrate his 80 years as a Methodist local preacher, and 100 years of living the Gospel.

The Revd Andrew King said: "The family prepared a wonderful book on Stan's life story for his 100th birthday, which recounts all the places where they lived. Stan was born in Wandsworth, South London, and his home church was then the Primitive Methodist in Wandsworth. The family lived in South London and Epsom. In later years, Stanley and Peggy lived in Poole, Dorset. Preaching runs in the family: Stan's eldest son, Paul Cobley, is a local preacher on the Ely and Newmarket Circuit." 

(Source: Buzz 128) 

Back our Teams! Street Child World Cup
From: From the Connexional Team

The Methodist Church in Britain is raising £30,000 to send two Nicaraguan teams - a boys' and a girls' - to Rio in Brazil for the Street Child World Cup on 25 March.

The sponsorship will not only help the Nicaraguan teams to take part in the tournament, it will also support the international conference for street children  running alongside the football matches.

Tamara Wray, Methodist Youth President, said: "£30,000 sounds like a lot but if every church helps then the target is achievable and we will be able to get  our teams to Rio!"

Bristol District Youth have already stepped up to the challenge. At their District Youth Weekend - Ignite the Light - their District Chair, the  Revd Ward Jones, underwent a sponsored gunk. Ward heroically endured his fate, despite not being keen about the idea (or aware that the young people had  chosen a pink Cheshire cat onesie for him to wear). The young people invited the whole district to support their event. A sponsored mini bus also visited all the churches in the district within 24 hours. In total, the Bristol District raised £1,555.20 for the Street Child World Cup.

If you would like to find out how you could raise money for the Street Child World Cup, there are fundraising resources available here. Or you can donate directly  here.

(Source: Buzz 127) 

Towards a greener building
From: Stratford-upon-Avon Methodist Church

The new Chair of the Birmingham District, the Revd Ian Howarth, paid an impromptu visit to the Christmas Festival of Cribs at Stratford-upon-Avon Methodist Church.

During his visit, Ian inspected the completion of phase one of the £1.1 million re-modelling of the 1960s building. The redevelopment includes a number of energy saving measures using the latest technology and energy-saving materials.

A ground heating system has been installed in the new annexe which has replaced a temporary 1939 building. Rainwater harvesting has been placed under  a new children's playground, providing water for all toilet flushing. And 36 solar panels have been erected on the south sanctuary roof thanks to funding by  Scottishpower Green Energy Trust Fund.

The Revd Ian Howarth said: "I was delighted to see the work done at Stratford. The care taken to ensure that the new buildings are environmentally friendly  was most impressive. I hope and pray that these improvements will help the church in its service to the community, and help build up the church community as  it seeks to share its faith in Jesus Christ."

Work on phase two will commence this month. Plans include the creation of a large communal welcome foyer with a refreshment area and folding walls linking the hall to the sanctuary.  Three condensing boilers, all "A" rated with controlled timers, will heat four different zones of the building, replacing a 20-year-old single loop system.  An extended kitchen has been fitted out in sustainable stainless steel. 

Care is being taken to ensure minimum disruption to community bookers, with church members providing a daily "meet and greet" service. The project is due to be completed in May 2014.

(Source: Buzz 126) 

Mary and Joseph "offered shelter" by community
From: Birstall Methodist Church, Leicester

Last Christmas, Birstall Methodist Church led its Churches Together group in organising a community posada. Knitted figures of  Mary, Joseph and the "wonky donkey" (so-called because he had trouble standing up) travelled between schools, community groups and businesses.  

The posada tradition, originating in Mexico, seeks to remind people of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem and their search for  shelter along the way. Many churches organise posadas during Advent, with figures of the holy couple being passed from home to home  within the congregation.

The Revd Rachel Parkinson said: "Each host agreed to offer hospitality to the figures; to pass them on and to take a photo which  illustrated where they'd been. Humour and creativity were encouraged in this bit. The photos became the basis of a pictorial record of  the journey which was updated daily on Facebook, Twitter and a Tumblr blog. Facebook proved the most popular platform for engagement  with nearly 200 people visiting the page. Quite apart from providing opportunities for the Christmas story to be told, the posada  turned out to be a good way of reflecting the community back to itself: highlighting and celebrating all that makes life here good.  It also encouraged people to enjoy a bit of fun in a very stressful month." 

(Source: Buzz 125) 

Church scoops community award
From: Chippenham Circuit

Chippenham Street Pastors, together with Salisbury Street Pastors, were given an award by Wiltshire Council at their annual awards ceremony under the section  "creative partnership working in communities". The team walked away with the Wiltshire Council and NHS Voluntary and Community Award.

Chippenham Street Pastors were founded three years ago when the Revd David Alderman, Superintendent Minister of the Chippenham Circuit, was approached byChippenham Town Council Night Time Economy group to see if local Churches could be involved in helping out people late at night around the town. Chippenham Street Pastors trained up 30 volunteers. Another ten are about to complete the 60 hours training course required of pastors before they can patrol the streets.

The Revd David Alderman said: "We are delighted to receive this award. We were nominated  two years ago for a similar award and were pleased then just to be a  runner-up. It's fantastic for our teams of dedicated pastors who turn up every Saturday night come rain or shine between 10pm and 4am on Sunday mornings to walk  the streets helping, caring and listening to those who have been out enjoying themselves and who may need a bit of TLC, especially if they have drunk too much".

The council received more than 70 nominations for the awards, which celebrated the achievements and hard work of the county's volunteers and community  groups.

Cllr Peter Hutton, who nominated Chippenham Street Pastors for the award, said: "All of the Street Pastors should be mentioned for their contribution, not  just in the community safety, but for the vital role they play in our society. I admire their drive and commitment and I cannot praise their attitude highly  enough." 

(Source: Buzz 124) 

Expanding for the community
From: Highfield Trinity Methodist Church in Sheffield

Highfield Trinity Methodist Church in Holland Place has celebrated the end of a £195,000 project to transform its community facility into a larger, warmer, flexible and more accessible space.

The celebrations began with greetings from key guests, including Paul Blomfield MP, Councillor Gillian Creasey, the Lord Mayor Councillor Vickie Priestley and Bishop John Rawsthorne. There were also displays, music and singing from the many groups which use the space for their meetings, rehearsals and performances.

The Revd Phillip Borkett said: "We are thrilled that the project has come together in this way and created a flexible and attractive community resource that will be of great benefit to local people as well as the wider Sheffield population through our partnership with Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care."

The eight month project has completely refurbished the community space inside the Victorian building. A disabled-access toilet, storage space and a greener, more efficient and environmentally friendly heating system have been installed. The space available for community events has also been expanded; lighting and insulation improved, and electrics updated.

Funding for the work came from Trusthouse Charitable Foundation, regional and local church trusts, and The Veolia Environmental Trust, which awarded a grant of £28,800 through the Landfill Communities Fund. The congregation also raised a lot of the funds needed, organising fundraising events such as quiz nights, and a 'talents challenge' in which members were each given £5 and asked to use it to raise more funds.

(Source: Buzz 123) 

Helping young unemployed men
From: Birmingham Methodist District

The Birmingham Methodist District and Mission in Britain have helped to fund a project aimed at helping young unemployed men on a housing estate in Birmingham.

The project explored the ways in which the experience of social exclusion shaped how young men thought and talked about truth, meaning and spirituality. It had also led to the Bromford Dreams Graffiti Spiritualities project, which the Revd Chris Shannahan, a Methodist Minister, wrote about during his time as a Research Fellow in Urban Theology at the University of Birmingham.

"The project led to the creation of a 12 foot by 8 foot graffiti cube designed and painted by the young men. The cube explores the relationship between social exclusion and spirituality. I have led a number of workshops on the project at schools, churches and theological colleges. My former District Chair, the Revd Bill Anderson, was a big supporter of the project and attended the launch of the cube and the Conference/concert we put on at the University of Birmingham." 

(Source: Buzz 122) 

First Sunday Lunch
From: Kempshott Methodist Church, Basingstoke

Two years ago, Charmian and Ian Harrison, members of Kempshott Methodist Church in Basingstoke, thought it would be a good idea to invite people, who would otherwise be on their own for Sunday lunch, to a prepared meal. They also decided that they would donate the proceeds from the lunch to charity.   

Dr Ian Harrison said: "It is no coincidence that we wanted a to find a different and more enjoyable way of raising funds for Christian Aid than knocking on doors to garner a few pence!"

The "First Sunday Lunch" has run every month since April 2011. Around 18 people turn up each time, mainly from the two local Methodist churches - Kempshott and St Andrew's, although anyone is welcome, whether attached to a church or not.

Dr Ian Harrison continued: "In the two years we have raised over £3,000 for various charities, Methodist and secular, in a spirit of conviviality which is helping to bring people together in understanding and Christian fellowship."

(Source: Buzz 121) 

Church and village team up
From: Camborne-Redruth Methodist Circuit

Young people from Camborne, Redruth, Pool, Falmouth and Gwennap Methodist Circuits recently raised funds for their local foodbank. A group of 16 young people stayed together for 24 hours to pray, worship and play games on a diet of tap water. They ended their fast with a burger and baked beans after raising more than £1,500 for the foodbank, which was set up by a church member. 

Helen Bamber, Methodist Deacon for the Camborne-Redruth Circuit, said: "We based ourselves at Camborne Centenary Chapel for the 24 hours, sleeping in the upstairs hall. We were involved in the united morning service at Camborne Wesley Church where the Revd Steve Wild was preaching. The fast came about as a result of the young people looking at the issue of poverty and realising that it affects a lot of people in the local area. They passionately wanted to put their faith into action." 

Esme Bamber, 17, said: "I really enjoyed it. It was nice to feel the support from across the churches in the Circuit. Lots of us were worried that we wouldn't be able to complete the fast, but as we stayed together and prayed as a group, I think God gave us the strength to push through."

(Source: Buzz 120) 

Environmentally friendly communities
From: Nexus Methodist Church, Bath

Nexus Methodist Church has become the first church in Bath to be awarded the prestigious Eco-Congregation Award. The award was presented by Don Foster MP during a service led by the Revd Rachel Borgars. The accreditation, which lasts for three years, was given in association with the Christian environmental action group A Rocha. "Eco-Congregations" is a programme to help churches become good stewards of God's world by helping them to address environmental issues in everything that they do.

The Revd Rachel Borgars said: "The awarding procedure was rigorous. First we had to submit a lengthy application, describing what we had done towards the award. Then, in November 2012, the Eco Group was interviewed by representatives of A Rocha who looked at the premises and quizzed us at length. The award was made unconditionally, and we were particularly commended for the social conscience displayed over issues at home and abroad, our remote control heating system and the fact that we source our energy from renewable supplier "Good Energy".

(Source: Buzz 119) 

The Withington  Elephant
From: Withington Methodist Church in South Manchester

Needles and Yarns is a craft group that meets every fortnight at Withington Methodist Church in South Manchester. Its members are from the church and the wider community. Their needle work skills range from professional to "a bit rusty". Sometimes members bring their own knitting; sometimes the whole group engages in a project. Generous friends have donated wool, patterns and even a knitting machine. And it was the machine that provided the inspiration for the group's last major project: The Withington Elephant. 

The life size multi-coloured pachyderm now proudly stands in the church porch alongside a sign which reads: "Elephants never forget. Don't forget God."

The Revd Jane Wild said: "It took five months to knit and several hours to construct and sew together, but everyone agrees it was worth the effort. It is impossible to say how many people were involved in the project. The core group were the members of Needles and Yarns, but anyone who came through the busy coffee bar area was invited to knit a little. At first, many refused, but as time passed they were tempted to have a go and almost without exception participants were not satisfied with just one go. As people knitted they were invited to offer a prayer or to think about their spirituality. Lots of amazing and moving conversations took place."

The elephant was named Advent at the Church Christmas Fair and provides a talking point within the community of Withington and beyond: a full-sized multi-coloured elephant is visible to the many buses stopping outside the church.

The group also knitted dozens of mug-hugs for Fairtrade Fortnight. Group co-ordinator, the Revd Jane Wild, said: "We're having a break from a large project for the moment but I am sure we'll start something major soon."

(Source: Buzz 118) 

Silver for SACREdplace 
From: St Austell Circuit, Cornwall District

SACREdplace, the Christian Resource & Fairtrade Centre in St Austell, has won a Silver Award in the Best Fairtrade Retailer Category at the prestigious South West Fairtrade Business Awards. The centre was set up three years ago by Methodists in the St Austell Circuit in Cornwall. 

Around 160 business leaders in the region attended the ceremony where SACREdplace's Manager, Dan Balsdon, was presented with the award. The Award was presented by entrepreneur and chef, Levi Roots, at a ceremony at the Colston Hall. SACREdplace was the only business in Cornwall to receive an award.

Dan Balsdon said: "We are proud that after just two and a half years of trading Fairtrade products, we have been able to receive a Silver Award. We have worked so hard to build up our Fairtrade product range and it is a great encouragement to receive recognition after all the effort we have put in. This award has given us even more reason to continue to promote Fairtrade Products in store, to continue the expansion of our product range and invest more resources into Fairtrade." 

SACREdplace - located at 15 High Cross St, St Austell - opened in July 2010 and has been selling Fairtrade food products to its customers since September 2010. It is owned by the SACREd Trust, a registered charity set up in 2010 by a group of Methodists primarily to secure the future of their local Christian bookshop. It has only one employee; all the other staff are volunteers.  

"The aim of the Awards is to increase sales of, and support for, Fairtrade amongst businesses in the region, by promoting those businesses that support Fairtrade and encouraging others to do more," said Dan. "Increasing sales of Fairtrade products enables more small producers in the developing world to make a sustainable living."

(Source: Buzz 117) 

Waste Not - Want Not  
From: Solihull Methodist Church, West Midlands

Night Shelter
From: Trinity Methodist Church, Powell St, Castleford in the Aire and Calder Circuit, Leeds District

A year ago Trinity Methodist Church opened a Night Shelter for the homeless and vulnerable adults in Castleford town and the surrounding area. 

The shelter began by opening with overnight accommodation one night per week; now it's open two nights a week offering food, hot drinks, clothing, baths, games, conversation, safety, clothes washing, chiropody and food parcels, encouragement and hope. 

There is also a Sunday evening Drop-In and a Tuesday lunchtime opening. Jenny Gill said: "The churches in our circuit have supported us with gifts of food, clothing, and money and also as volunteers; indeed, so have churches of other denominations in the town and surrounding towns. Every time we have knocked on a door for funding, for example, Mustard Seed, Wakefield Council and Wakefield Housing and Rotary and Lions, we have been supported and encouraged  beyond our wildest dreams. It is sad that in the 21st century this work is necessary, but we are thankful above all to God who has led us, opened doors for us, and shown us how to offer hospitality to folk on the margins of society."

(Source: Buzz 116) 

Waste Not - Want Not  
From: Solihull Methodist Church, West Midlands

Solihull Methodist's Greener Church Group has published a 24-page recipe book to use 'left-over' food which might otherwise go to waste. Church members were asked to pass on recipes they had used. Some go back to the Second World War.

Sue Balmer, who compiled the booklet called 'Waste Not - Want Not', said: "According to government studies it seems we throw away around a third of all the food we buy in this country. This means we not only waste food but waste the land it is grown on which could be used for forests, energy crops, wild life reserves and so on. Anything we can do to reduce food waste must help our stewardship of God's earth."

The booklets are being sold to raise funds for the current church project - providing shade, power and better toilets for a school in the Gambia. Solihull Methodist Church is offering the booklet for free as a pdf file. Alternatively, it can be sent out as packs of 10 for £10 including postage. 

(Source: Buzz 115) 

Church helps local artists  
From: Frodsham Methodist Church

Frodsham Methodist Church gave local artists a chance to showcase their work when they put on a "Creative Winter" exhibition held over a weekend in November. 

Over 200 entries were received for the event at the Kingsley Road church in Cheshire. The exhibition was curated by Liz and Alun Evans and included paintings, photographs and stitch-craft, quilting and patchwork. 60 children from Overton CE Primary School sang four cheerful Christmas songs at the opening ceremony.

Proceeds from the exhibition will be 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."

Mr. Graham Evans, MP for Weaver Vale, praised the wide variety of local talents and creative skills when he opened the exhibition last year. 

(Source: Buzz 114) 

Concert and Carols - supporting Overgate Hospice
From: Salem Methodist Church, Halifax

Halifax Boys' Brigade held a Christmas Concert and Carol Sing last Christmas in aid of the Halifax Boys' Brigade Appeal - The Overgate Hospice. The band, which rehearses at Salem Methodist Church in Halifax, performed a number of carols and Christmas songs while two guest singers added to the festive cheer. 

Jo Buckley and John Ramsdin performed separate features, adding their own flavour to the concert. Jo Buckley was also joined by members of the Halifax Boys' Brigade Band who sang along with her. John Ramsdin was more than happy to help the band out having been a member at the 5th Halifax Boys' Brigade in Elland many years ago.

Boys' Brigade leader Robert Batty said: "The audience enjoyed a pie and pea supper and raised £420. Also in the audience was Mr Alan Lomax who on behalf of Arco Valves from Brighouse sponsors the band throughout the competition year. Alan said at the end of the night that whatever the Band raises, he would match it which means that with the support of Arco Valves the whole event raised £840 for the Overgate Hospice."

(Source: Buzz 113)

Day filled with praise in Norfolk
From: Methodist Chapel, Sporle, Norfolk

This year the Methodist Chapel in the village of Sporle in Norfolk celebrated its 150th anniversary. The festival day began in the morning with a service of Holy Communion that was attended by six former Sunday School members from the 1940s and 50s. 

John MacKenzie played the organ; Kay Rushmore and Tony Dye read the scriptures, Donald MacKenzie led the prayers and Ray Harrowing from Kidderminster read the sermon. The service was presided over by the Revd Andrew  MacKenzie, a Supernumerary in the Glasgow Circuit, and an associate minister in the Scottish Episcopal Church.  All had come together for the first time in  six decades.

Andrew MacKenzie said: "Throughout the day people heard how the Revd Robert Ward from Sporle travelled to New Zealand as a pioneer Primitive Methodist missionary in 1844. A message of greeting will be sent from the present society to the Methodist Church of New Zealand. In the evening, the chapel was at full capacity, some two to a seat, for a Songs of Praise celebration, in which more former Sunday School members took part, together with present members of the society. The congregation sang its faith, and sang it gloriously. Having been 'born in song', Methodism is still living in it."

A male voice singing group made up of seven former Sunday School scholars and two  helpers sang four pieces arranged by John MacKenzie. The group's combined age was just over 600 years, but this didn't hinder their performance, which was warmly received by the congregation. The singers hadn't sung together since their Sunday School days!

Andrew added: "It was a day to remember and a tribute to all those who, in past generations, passed on the faith that is still burning today in the lives of all who participated."

(Source: Buzz 112)

Jubilee Year
From: Stockwell Methodist Church, London

More than one hundred people gathered in the typically British drizzle to celebrate The Queen's Diamond Jubilee at Stockwell Methodist Church in London. A special service of Holy Communion, celebration and thanksgiving was led by the Revd Arlington Trotman to mark the 60th anniversary of  the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

Polish Soprano and friend of Stockwell, Paulina Hlawiczka, performed a classical rendition of 'A  Prayer for World Peace' accompanied by organist Kwesi Aduku. Prayers for the monarch were followed by the baptism of twins and their parents' transfer to the church fellowship.

The Revd Arlington Trotman said: "Crowds from other churches in the circuit - Springfield Methodist  and Clapham Methodist - turned up in good numbers for the garden party barbeque. People of all ages enjoyed dancing to gospel music and the bouncy castle was a hit with the children. The festivities went on until dusk. Some passers-by even stopped to join us. God was truly praised!"

(Source: Buzz 111)

200 Balloons celebrate 200 years of Methodism
From: Wallington Methodist Church in Oxfordshire

Wallington Methodist Church in Oxfordshire has spent this year celebrating its bicentenary. Special preachers were invited to church events every month and, at the end of July, the congregation celebrated by decorating the church with 200 balloons.

Philip Crockett said: "Being good Methodists, we baked plenty of cakes and scones for serving to local residents and visitors from the Oxford and Aylesbury Circuits who came to our Saturday 'Fun Day'." 

On the Anniversary Sunday, Wallington Methodist Church welcomed Mike King, Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, as a guest preacher. "He showed the  children on a blow-up globe some of the countries he had visited during his work for the Methodist Church," said Philip. "The theme for his address was that,  even after 200 years, Methodism is still relevant and vital in the world today. After the service we all gathered for a photo in front of the church.  Then  came a bring-and-share lunch and the cutting of our special anniversary cake by our minister the Revd Adam Stevenson.  After the washing-up, we all went home tired but ready for the next 200 years in Wallington." 

Source: Buzz 110

The Great Cake Giveaway
From: Teignmouth Methodist Church, Devon

There was a great cake giveaway when Teignmouth Methodist Church in the Teignbridge Circuit celebrated 200 years of Methodism in the town of Teignmouth. More than 200 cakes were baked by the church family and handed out free to delighted passers-by and to people working in local shops. 

The Revd William Robertson said: "When the idea was first suggested many thought that baking and giving away 200 cakes would be impossible but the planning group went forward with faith and on the day 211 cakes were given away. In celebrating 200 years of Methodism in the town the church wanted to show the love of God in the community by giving freely rather than receiving. The anniversary was linked with the Jubilee Celebrations and the weekend culminated in a supper attended by 70 people who were entertained by a local drama group."

The anniversary was marked by a variety of flower arrangements in the church prepared by other churches and community groups. Art and memorabilia showcased alongside photographs and artifacts reflecting the history of the church. There was also a screening of a DVD that traced the beginning of Methodism in Teignmouth. The DVD was played throughout the day, evoking many memories for the people watching.

(Source: Buzz 109)

Jigsaw Praise
From: Wokingham Methodist Church

Wokingham Methodist Church is aiming to introduce different styles of worship at Wokingham that will serve a broader audience in the community. The new initiative is called 'Jigsaw Praise'. Children and families are welcomed into the church's cafe area for craft activities while the rest of the congregation gathers.

Sarah Hewinson said: "We don't want to create two separate services so we offer different styles of worship in different parts of our premises, at the same time, using the same theme and readings. From then on we try to keep what happens exciting and different. We have made use of Stagefright, a local Christian drama group and, in September, Roly the Clown will be joining us. At some point during the morning we come together to make the jigsaw into one big picture. It may be for a recap of the story and a sung blessing in the cafe area or the children and families may come into the church to listen to the Bible story, wonderfully told by our story teller, reinforcing the fact that no matter where the worship takes place it is all equally valid."   

(Source: Buzz 108) 

Post office hosted in a church
From: Tansley Methodist Church in Derbyshire

Four years ago, the village of Tansley, near Matlock, lost its village shop and Post Office. Various attempts had been made to revive both of them without success. However, members and friends of the Tansley Methodist church had recently completed a major refurbishment of their former schoolroom and kitchen, renamed the Brunswick Rooms. They were now looking for ways in which the premises could serve the whole community. The refurbishment included a new roof, windows and screens, and was funded by grants and interest-free loans, but mainly by the generous donations of members and friends. Members still have to work hard to raise money to repay the remainder of the cost.

With the support of the Parish Council, the Post Office Regional Headquarters was approached to see if the premises would be suitable. The Post Office officials who looked at the accommodation thought it was ideal, and after a survey and process of consultation, the new Tansley Post Office finally opened this year.

Anne Stanyon said: "There was a welcoming atmosphere with people relaxing over coffee. Members of the church are delighted that the premises is being used by the Post Office and the local community. The Post Office staff are very happy with the use of the service by the villagers, and the personal attention they are able to give, and enjoy working in the friendly environment."

The Post Office opens from 10am to 1pm every Friday (except Bank Holidays), offering a full range of Post Office services, except passports. If it continues to be profitable to the Post Office, additional opening times will be considered. The nearest alternative Post Office is in Matlock, and is often very busy.     

(Source: Buzz 107)

Raising Funds for Action for Children
From: Wollaton Road Methodist Church in Nottingham

Wollaton Road Methodist Church hosted a dedicated Action for Children service led by the Revd Colin Barrett to thank Home Collection box-holders from the Beeston and Chilwell Support Group who have raised funds over the past year. The seven Home Collection Box secretaries and over 120 box-holders made the annual box-opening event even more special by facilitating stalls selling cards, cakes, biscuits and books with all proceeds going to the charity. This year £2,500 was raised from the event and box lists combined. Astoundingly, the combined experience of the secretaries is more than 130 years!

Irene Davies is 83-years-old and has been a Home Collection Box secretary for a staggering 67 years. She started her collection box list at the end of World War II in 1945 at Clarke's Lane Church in Beeston. In 1954, she established Inham Nook Methodist Church with her late husband Wyn, starting a new list of three box-holders which quickly grew to 40. She said: "We have arranged many fundraising events over the years and estimate to have raised over £50,000 for Action For Children during this time."

Margaret Picksley is 88-years-old and has been a Home Collection Box secretary for nine years. During that time her list has raised £3,461. "I support Action for Children to make a difference," she said. "I have supported the charity for over 80 years and remember selling the Sunny Smiles booklets and, of course, the Festival of Queens fundraising event. It is important to care for children who are underprivileged."

If you or someone you know would like to join the League of Light, by having a home collection box in their home, please contact the Action for Children Customer Support team on 0300 123 2112. They will put you in touch with a local Home Collection Box secretary or an Action for Children local fundraiser. Every penny makes a difference to the children and young people they support.   

(Source: Buzz 106)

Extending care for the local community
From: Anlaby Park Methodist Church in Hull

"Ignition" is the vision for Anlaby Park Methodist Church situated to the West of Hull on Hull Road, Anlaby Common in Hull. Their aim is to develop the church's already active programme and premises to further serve the community around it.

In response to the needs of the local community, the church has set up "Live at Home Scheme" in conjunction with the Housing and Care charity MHA. The scheme aims to relieve social isolation and encourage older people to take an active part in the communities in which they live, supporting them to be able to carry on living at home for longer. 

The scheme has been developed by a steering group consisting of church members, local councillors and MHA representatives. Moving from planning to implementation, the team has recently appointed a paid manager to run the scheme. Jennie Falconer, the newly appointed manager, said: "I'm thrilled to be working with the scheme. What attracted me to it is that I think we are going to be able to deliver the services of a retirement village to people in their own home because given the choice I think that's where people would prefer to be." 

(Source: Buzz 105)

Church and Village Team Up
From: Wokingham Methodist Church

In 2006 Wokingham Methodist Church completed its new community centre and decided it now had room for a major three-day festival. The church's aims were to celebrate Christmas, strengthen bonds with the local community and raise money for charity. So the church launched a festival of Christmas trees, which has become an annual tradition growing year by year.

Dilys Corlett said: "Last December we enjoyed our sixth festival when the church and all the rooms in the centre were filled with 43 trees, each one imaginatively decorated by individual groups from local schools, charities, organisations and institutions, as well as from the church itself. We welcomed over 1,500 people, many of them regular visitors but also a lot of new faces. We were entertained by local choirs, musicians and bell-ringers, and every window blazed with light!"

The church managed to make this project a success with the help of a dedicated, generous and enthusiastic team of 120 volunteers, an improved website and press coverage. 

Dilys continued: "We believe that the aroma of grilled bacon attracted visitors in! Everyone certainly seemed to enjoy our all-day lunches of bacon sandwiches, pizzas, baked potatoes and homemade soup. We sold almost 400 of them, and raised around £2,000 from these and other light refreshments. £1,000 or so was raised by stalls selling donated produce ranging from trinkets to Christmas cakes, and further individual donations helped to boost our proceeds."

The church donated £1,500 to each of two very deserving charities: one a children's hospice close to the church (the Helen & Douglas House, Oxon); the other a school for some of the poorest girls in Peru who were recently visited by the church's minister, the Revd Nick Thompson and his wife Pam.

"We can certainly recommend a Christmas tree festival as a very effective way of simultaneously celebrating our Lord's birth, reaching out to the local community, and raising funds for good causes," said Dilys. "We believe we continue to meet the objectives we set years ago. And, what's more, we all have fun!" 

(Source: Buzz 104)

Church "ignites" vision of community
From: Anlaby Park Methodist Church, Hull

"Ignition" is the vision for the future of Anlaby Park Methodist Church which is situated to the West of Hull on Anlaby Common. The vision has taken an exciting step forward recently with the granting of planning consent from East Riding Council for the first phase of an ambitious redevelopment of the church's premises. Much more than a building scheme, Ignition is about developing the church's already active programme to further serve the community around it.

Some time ago the church began to realise its intentions were outstripping the capacity of its ageing suite of premises. A community survey indicated plenty of needs in the community but no natural community centre from which services could be coordinated. From these beginnings the "Ignition" vision was born and several teams of church members began to work up plans to revamp the church's range of activities, services and the premises from which they are offered.

Ignition executive team member Pete Richardson said: "Since the turn of the last century our church has had a place in and a heart to serve the community around it. To be part of the current vision is very exciting."

(Source: Buzz 103)

Cafe opens up opportunity to support homeless
From: Oxford Place Methodist Church

A partnership between Oxford Place Methodist Church and St George's Crypt was celebrated with the official opening of the St George's Crypt Nurture café by the Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn. 

Nurture is a Community Interest Company set up earlier this year to provide former clients and residents of St George's Crypt with the opportunity to learn employability skills and to undertake "on the job" training and experience in horticulture and catering. It's a natural follow on to developing a "places of change" concept for Crypt clients which is now fundamental to the way the Crypt works.

Martin Patterson, Director of Fundraising, said today: "We are delighted to be able to partner with Oxford Place Methodist Church in reviving their café and allowing it to branch out in such an exciting partnership."

Dr Adrian Burdon, Superintendent Minister of The Methodist Church at Oxford Place, said: "St George's Crypt and Leeds Methodist Mission share a common concern for the vulnerable people of this city. It is phenomenal that we can work together on this project which brings our resources together to make a difference."

The Crypt is hopeful that local businesses will use the café as a meeting and networking place and, in so doing, support its work and those who will be working in the café.

Church and village team up
From: Bramwell Methodist Church

Bramhall Methodist Church has come up with a powerful fund-raising initiative to pay for improvements to its church buildings and help local retail businesses at the same time.
The Buy Bramhall scheme has engaged 41 retailers and a 400-strong congregation in working together for a better future. Organisers from the church have produced 2,000 "cheque books" with a page for each retailer. The idea is for church members, friends and family to take the cheque book with them when shopping and generate a 5 per cent contribution towards the Church Redevelopment Fund. With this as a motivation, shop owners are hoping to see an increase in shopping visits.

Janice Kennedy, who came up with the idea, said that the response from both the church and the shops had been terrific. "It's time for churches to be practical in terms of connections with the community," she said. "Everyone benefits. Our focus now is to get the cheque books out and in circulation quickly and encourage as many as possible to get involved."

James Day, of Beards Butchers, also welcomed the scheme. "It's good for the church and for the traders of Bramhall - we will give it maximum support," he said. 

All participating retailers have been briefed on how to administer the scheme. Purchases have to be itemised in the book and stamped as verification. When a page has been completed (between 20 and 40 visits per retailer) the cheque book user tears a page out and posts it in a secure box in the church building. Organisers will then recoup the 5 per cent donation from the retailers.

Bramhall's Minister, the Revd Leslie Newton, said that the idea was to be applauded. "From every angle this scheme is about community building. In raising funds we can make the church more accessible for local people and in supporting local businesses we can ensure that Bramhall continues to be a vibrant place to live and work."

Restaurants, beauticians, hair salons, delis, florists, greengrocers, butchers, opticians, interior designers, book sellers, pet suppliers, dry cleaners, fashion outlets, car mechanics, computer repairers, flooring specialists and even estate agents are all on board.

(Source: Buzz 101)

A Top To Toe Experience
From: South East District

Thanks to grants from Mole Valley District Council and the South-East District of th
e Methodist Church, Dorking Christian Centre in Surrey is now offering vastly improved facilities to the local community. The centre opposite St Martin's Shared Church (Methodist and Anglican) now houses a refurbished café, a hairdressing salon and chiropody treatment room. Locals have praised the new services, saying they offer a warm welcome and a "top to toe" experience to the town, particularly to users of the former Mayflower Centre, which has now closed.

Sue Jamieson representing the Methodist Trustees said: "For nearly forty years Dorking Christian Centre has been a place offering food, friendship, loving care and stimulation for mind and soul, through the many groups and activities that meet on its premises. Now we are delighted to offer those things in even brighter and better surroundings."

Euan Workman, one of the centre's younger users who was baptised at St Martin's Church, cut the ribbon and opened the doors (with a little help from Mum, Ailsa). Guests packed St Martin's Church for a thanksgiving service followed by an official opening.

Clair Fisher, Christian Centre Director Clair, said: "We are thrilled to be able to open wide the doors of our beautiful new café and treatment rooms to the Dorking community after this refurbishment and look forward to seeing friends old and new."

(Source: Buzz 100)

Methodists dash for cash at the Great British 10k run
From: Methodists across the Connexion

Six Methodists, including the vice-president of the Methodist Conference, Ruth Pickles, ran in the Great British 10k London Run for the Methodist Relief and Development fund, raising almost £2,500.

Heather Staniland, district development enabler, Chester and Stoke on Trent District reports, "The sun shone and the atmosphere was great, with thousands of runners putting in their all for their chosen charities. There was a massive queue of thousands to get to the start line and once we were all over it, I did not even see Jane again, who was our fastest runner! We were constantly trying to avoid discarded water bottles and other runners and having a laugh over some of the fancy-dress costumes as we ran. It was exciting to run past London`s famous landmarks like Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. 

(Source: Buzz 99)

Out of the church and into the home
From: Southfield (Paignton) Methodist Church, Torbay Circuit

Monthly visits to Little Oldway Residential Home in Paignton began as a circuit outreach initiative. "There were just three of us to begin with", reports Muriel Coombe, one of the church team, "but over time we really have increased in numbers, and now there are sometimes nine of us. As there is a keyboard at the home an organist comes with us to play the hymns, of which we have quite a number in large print format so that the residents, who enjoy singing well-known hymns from their past, can join in.

"We are fortunate in having a retired deacon to lead the services for us, which consist of four hymns, a Bible reading, prayers and a short address. We also have Holy Communion services at times such as Christmas, Easter, and perhaps a couple more occasions during the year. These services are taken either by our own minister or by a retired minister.

"The staff and residents really welcome us to Little Oldway, and the staff encourage as many of the residents as possible to join with us. We have made friends with everyone at Little Oldway, and feel we are offering a worthwhile service by going there." 

(Source: Buzz 98)

Prayer with Porridge
From: St Just in Penwith Methodist Church, Cornwall

When Joyce Lee, who chairs the fellowship at St Just in Penwith Methodist Church, invited the Revd Steve Wild, Chair of the Cornwall District, to speak to the fellowship, she had no idea what the consequences would be.

Joyce reports, "Steve showed photos of the churches he'd visited and told a story about them. One photo was of some ladies at St Erth who had met together weekly to pray for increased membership in their church. He also showed a photo of three young men who had come, as a result of their praying.

"Encouraged by this, a friend and I decided it was no use just sitting and hoping for new members to join us so we decided to follow their example and have a prayer meeting specifically for that. Our only problem was that we both lead very busy lives - she working full time, singing in choirs etc., and although I am well and truly retired, I also have many committments, so the answer seemed to be very early morning! We decided on Wednesday mornings at 7.15 am and as my friend would go straight to work afterwards, we would need to have breakfast - hence Prayer with Porridge.

"We have now been going for several months and there are usually six to eight of us praying together. We had one lady join us who is not normally a church goer but finds this time of prayer at the beginning of the day very uplifting. I put a notice of invitation in the local newspaper and parish magazines emphasizing that prayer can be spoken or silent, and we always lay places for two extra people, just in case! We have a prayer box attached to the wall outside the church so that people can place any requests in there.

"We have a huge church that seats 1,000 people, so it will take some filling but we have great faith that our numbers will increase. We are also praying for guidance in what kind of children's work we should be doing as we have no young people at all. Just this week I felt that part of that prayer was answered when I saw 20 children's chairs advertised on FREEGLE (all goods free) which we were able to collect from a village hall that no longer had use for them.

"Please pray for our outreach in St Just and for guidance on bringing in families."

(Source: Buzz 97)

Showcasing local mission in Derby
 The Derby Circuit

Have you ever wondered what other congregations get up to? What impact does the local church actually have on the world around us? What forms of mission and service are ordinary Christians getting involved in?

Those were the questions being answered by the Methodist churches of the Derby Circuit at a recent roadshow. Over 20 different organisations were represented, all with links to local congregations, at the event held at St John's Methodist Church, Allestree, Derby. Every available space was used to fit in the many activities represented.

Groups represented included: Aquabox, Children of Honduras Trust, Christian Aid, Derby Church Net, Derby Refugee Advice Centre, Derby Soup Run, Educare/Phakamisa Project, Fairtrade, Friends of Kenya's children, Highfields Happy Hens, Illuminate Project, Industrial Mission in Derbyshire, Kampala Kids' League, Kashmir Hospital, the Leaders of Worship and Preachers Trust, the Leprosy Mission, Methodist Homes and Live at Home Scheme, Methodist Relief and Development Fund, Mission Aviation Fellowship, Nigeria Health care project, Open the Book, Treetops Hospice and Women's Network. Each had a display to show the work they do and the services that they provide, either locally, nationally or globally.

The circuit superintendent minister, the Revd Paula Hunt said "it's an opportunity for us to show some of the ways in which Christians in Derby minister to people in need, well beyond the boundaries of the church."

The event was well attended with much networking between representatives of the many charities present and local church representatives taking the opportunity to book speakers for forthcoming meetings.

A service was held to finish the event at which the Revd Loraine Mellor, chair of the Nottingham and Derby Methodist District said "it's been a great afternoon… lots of different ways that people are getting involved in mission, and that is super for the kingdom and I'm pleased by that."

(Source: Buzz 96)

Tackling the problems of homelessness at The Brick
From: The Queen's Hall, Wigan Methodist Mission

The Brick, run by Wigan Methodist Mission, is not just a valuable centre for the homeless but aims to prevent those at risk from becoming homeless in the first place.

Located in the Bricklayers Arms, a former pub, staff and volunteers support those who are vulnerable and homeless by providing showers, clean clothes, sleeping bags and food. They also strive to prevent people from losing their homes by raising awareness and providing advice. The centre runs courses, art and reading classes and opportunities to volunteer and gain employment. Over the past year staff and volunteers have assisted 392 homeless adults and have helped over 2,500 people by offering support and guidance on a range of issues.

Trish Green, who helped to set up the centre three years ago, said: "We want people to be aware we are here, and that they don't have to wait until they are homeless. If they are in trouble with rent or are threatened with eviction they can come to us for help. We work with individuals and support them in their own way. We have also done some work with schools, inviting them to The Brick and talking to pupils about how alcohol and drugs can affect their lives and what can happen."

A good number of clients helped at The Brick also come to church and one of the trainee support workers recently became a Christian through an Alpha course run at the Queen's Hall.

To celebrate The Brick's achievements, staff and volunteers recently held an open day at nearby Queen's Hall Methodist Church to which school pupils, members of the public and the Mayor, Councillor Michael Winstanley, were invited to tour the centre and hear how it has helped local people over the last three years.

(Source: The Buzz 95)

A personal response to God's calling
From: Huddersfield Mission Cafe

"Reading the Huddersfield Examiner changed my life", says Jacqui Goff, manager of Huddersfield Methodist Mission Cafe.

"I had worked as an occupational therapist and hospital manager for 23 years and for the past four years have worked at Huddersfield Methodist Mission as the Cafe manager. It seems strange saying that I have only worked at the Mission for four years as I feel that I have always been here and it's where I belong.

"The Café is a safe and secure environment and offers a friendly, supportive, eating and meeting place for everyone. Alongside general befriending, pastoral support, social inclusion and signposting to relevant services, we work in close partnership with other individuals and groups to provide very focused and active support and advocacy services for disadvantaged people in the Huddersfield area.

"The customers come from all walks of life. We have regular customers who come for the inexpensive food and sit and have a chat, play cards or chess and read the newspapers. We also have young families who bring in their children. Some just want a safe place and some want benefit or budget advice. We have a large number of people who are homeless or lead very chaotic lifestyles through drug and alcohol abuse. They often ask for support and advice on their benefits, need referral to housing agencies and often just a listening ear. We also have passing trade and average 60-70 customers a day.

"I believe that the Mission is where God wants me to be. I got here by what I believe to be God's calling. For six months before coming to the Mission I kept saying to my husband Steve that although I had a good, well paid job, I felt that God wanted me to do more to help people in the community. We prayed and asked for God's guidance.

"One Wednesday I bought the Huddersfield Examiner. Steve was on a temporary job contract and it was while scouring the jobs pages for him that I saw an advert for a part time job in a café. You would think that as a manager within a hospital I wouldn't have given it a second glance but as I read it I started to cry. I had found the job. I had never worked in a café; I didn't even know where the Mission was but I just knew that this was the job.

"I couldn't wait for Steve to get home and didn't even give him time to take off his coat before saying 'I've found the job; I think I know where God wants me to be'. Steve's practical response was 'lets pray about it' and we did, there and then. We were going on holiday on the Friday, so I only had Thursday to complete and return the application form. We continued to pray about it whilst on holiday and for the first time in quite a while I felt at peace. I got an interview, but what an interview - there were six people on the panel and it was harder than going for a hospital manager job! When I left the interview all my fears had gone and I just knew I wanted this job. Perhaps more to the point, I just knew that God had it all in his control.

"It should really have been a difficult decision to leave a very well paid job when Steve was on a temporary contract, but we did what we felt God wanted. I handed in my notice and Steve got a permanent job within the same week!

"I often think of God's call to Abram when he was told to leave and go to a foreign country and that he would be blessed. Obviously, my call didn't involve me leaving where I live but work at The Mission Cafe can present many challenges. I have been greatly blessed and pray every day that God will bless others through me."

(Source: Buzz 94) 

Creepy crawlies invade church
From: The Drive Methodist Church, Ilford, Essex

Beetles have been scuttling around The Drive for the last 19 years but the church property steward doesn't have any plans for their extermination.

JMA Secretary, Diane Foster explains how advertising a beetle drive at the church all those years ago and initially getting no response, caused her to think that this form of family entertainment was too old fashioned and that maybe she needed to dream up new ideas for attracting people. But a few months later Diane tried again and this time the idea took off. After that people began asking if another could be organised and from that moment on the beetle drives have proved to be successful annual events that raise funds for JMA (Junior Mission for All).

This year's event was enjoyed by over 40 people - church members, local families, friends, friends of friends, including some from the nearby Anglican church. All ages played together, the youngest player was just six years old. There was a small charge which covered the cost of a lavish tea and prizes for the adult and under 14yrs beetle drive winners. A raffle was held, which helped to boost the takings and almost £300 was raised for JMA.

People look forward to the annual beetle drive as an opportunity for inviting others along to church in a non-threatening environment. It isn't expensive or difficult to organise and goes to show that simple, good old-fashioned family fun is still a winner.

Source 93

Food for thought
From: Llangollen Methodist Church, Wrexham Circuit

"Christmas falling on a weekend in 2010 meant that the first days of the following week were Bank Holidays with scant Sunday services on public transport and the closure of many cafes and shops. Great for some people, but for those who live in a rural community, such as ours, it meant that many would have no access to their usual 'watering holes' or 'days out' for company and a change of scenery" explains Methodist minister, Revd Una McLean.

Jan and Don, who regularly hold coffee mornings to raise funds for many charities, decided to meet the local need and opened the doors of our Memorial Hall from Boxing Day through to the following Tuesday, offering tea and coffee and a running buffet for all-comers. Donations, both financial and in kind (sausage rolls, mince pies, home-made soup and more), came from numerous people in the local churches and more than 100 people benefited over the three days.

Some who came were people stranded alone at home because bad weather had prevented travel to family. Others live alone all year round and often don't bother to make a meal for themselves, and others were regular visitors to the coffee mornings, some of whom made special efforts to catch the scarce busses to be with us. All those who came really enjoyed themselves and Jan and Don received thank-you cards from relieved family members who knew their relatives were being cared for under difficult dates and circumstances.

Plans are now under discussion to think through how this venture might be carried on through the year, in some form or another, without interfering with local traders.
(Source: Buzz 91) 

Bladon Junior Church wows the crowds
From: Bladon Methodist Church, Northampton District

Bladon Junior Church has recently completed a week's run of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. This was an extremely ambitious undertaking for an amateur group in a small village. The rights to the show have been released by Disney for a limited period only, however due to the technically complex nature of the show, not to mention the difficult costuming, very few societies have attempted to stage this award winning musical. Our cast numbered 40 children and young people, aged from 4 years upwards and we believe we are the only such group in the county, if not the country, to have undertaken such a demanding production.

Bladon Methodist Church was transformed into a magnificent castle for our production of this classical musical love story which included spectacular lighting effects, dazzling production numbers such as Be Our Guest and breathtaking pyrotechnics! The show was great fun to rehearse and perform and the audience loved it. All six performances were sold out and we received excellent reviews and at least one standing ovation!

(Source: Buzz 90) 

approAch conference equips those who serve in our churches
From: The Loughborough Circuit, Northampton District 

An ecumenical approAch conference recently held in Loughborough was open to all involved in worship either as a minister, local preacher, worship leader or a member of the congregation. "The aim was to share practical ideas and advice which people could take away with them and use in their own situations," reports Methodist local preacher, Carolyn Thornborow.

There was a variety of workshops to choose from including Godly Play, drumming, prayer and dramatised scripture. The evening celebration rounded off the day with Cathy Burton and her band leading the worship and Dr Denis Alexander giving plenty of food for thought about faith and worship within the scientific context.

The event received sponsorship from a number of sources including ArtServe and the Northampton District. We were also very pleased to receive funding from Leicester Diocese for the first time this year and this enabled us to keep the ticket prices down so that more people could take part. Due to the number of people attending, the conference was held in two venues - Trinity Methodist Church and Emmanuel Parish Church, situated close together in Loughborough.

One participant said that it was a "good combination of worship and exploring new ways of expressing our faith", and another commented on the "warmth and hospitality, good organisation, but mostly a great passion for God and the worship experience".

The conference was organised and delivered by an executive group who are all part of the Loughborough Circuit, including Prof Mike Collins, district local preachers' tutor. This was the third successful approach conference and a fourth is now being planned.

(Source: Buzz 89)

Who says 'nothing ever happens in a rural circuit'?
From: Canworthy Water Methodist Chapel, Cornwall District

Not a huge place, Canworthy Water - all of a couple of dozen houses in the village clustered around the bridge! But there is a Methodist chapel, and its doors are always open.

There are interactive prayer stations, food and drink in the 'eating place', a rocking chair and a table of devotional books, things to browse and touch and taste; toys for the children and art materials - and last week, during the village scarecrow festival, 'John Wesley' stood at the door to welcome all our visitors.

Over the road, in the manse, you might find all kinds of 'Methodist Madness' - an Edwardian garden party, a teddy bear's picnic, a treasure hunt, a quiet day or a bonfire party; and in the old Sunday School room you might find the mums and tots, the 'library' coffee morning, a celebration meal, some 'alternative' worship, a Bible study, a cream tea... And then, along the road at Eden is the 'new congregation', JAF, with lots of young families - messy church and celebration, Alpha and J.John's 'Ten' and so much more. But then... nothing ever happens in a rural circuit - does it?

(Source: Buzz 88) 

Church open for coffee and a haircut
From: Nether Whitacre Methodist Church, Birmingham Elmdon Circuit

Come along to the Nether Whitacre Methodist Church on the first Thursday of the month and you can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and get your haircut at the same time. The church has a hairdressing business on the premises and once a month runs a charity coffee morning where the proceeds are donated to different charities.

The church is at the heart of the local growing community and recently held membership classes for six people. Being situated in the beautiful north Warwickshire countryside, the church is an ideal spot for quiet days or retreats and the buildings are well used by various groups throughout the week.

(Source: Buzz 87)

Church welcomes whole community to a party in the park
From: Kirkby Lonsdale Methodist Church

'Party in the Park' on Sunday 27 June was our way to share and express God's love to the whole community of Kirkby Lonsdale as we commemorated the 175th anniversary year of the opening of the Methodist church in this small country town. We had marvellous weather, a great location and around 1,000 local people joined in.

We had good support from other churches and local schools as well as from church and community organisations, all of which were contacted directly, with a personal invitation to take part. The event was publicised in the local press and on local radio. We displayed large banners around town and flyers were given to every household in the area. We worked with a planning team of five people plus the support of many others in our church doing a variety of jobs from collecting straw bales to making refreshments to praying for the event.

On the day our minister, Revd Andrew Webb, welcomed everyone and the afternoon was officially opened by Tim Farron MP, who spoke very directly about soccer and Christianity.

There was something for everyone and everything was free. At four day's notice we even managed a live feed for the England vs Germany game of the World Cup. Needless to say, the hall was packed - shame about the result! During the afternoon there were live events, a dazzling display of bike handling and agility from Trials Display, Kirkby Lonsdale Brass Band played and Queen Elizabeth School 6th Form Choir sang some of the programme from their forthcoming Belgian tour. An ad hoc group of children and teens were led in a samba percussion session - great fun for all. We were grateful to everyone who baked cakes and to Meet2Eat who served the refreshments (M2E, a Christians Together initiative providing a weekly hot meal and friendship for anyone). Other organisations displayed information about their work, eg the Abbeyfield Society, First Responders, FairTrade and Divorce Care.

Costs were covered by gifts and grants from Methodist sources and the local Neighbourhood Forum. We had massive support from other groups in the town including the Town Council and The Institute (village hall) committee and, having planned the event for the local community, and not particularly for visitors to the town, we seem to have realised a previously unmet need for greater community involvement - something for us to think about for the future.

This was the first time we had attempted anything like this. We received advice from St Thomas' Anglican Church in Kendal and the Revd Paul Dunstan, Cumbria District Evangelism Enabler helped guide us as we considered how to show God's love to the community through the church and its members. Next month we are holding special services to mark the 175th anniversary of the church's opening.

(Source: Buzz 86) 

Serving the community in good times and sad times
From: Shackles Off, Seascale

Shackles Off Drop-In Centre is a well used, fresh expression of church in Seascale, Cumbria and provides a safe, caring, drug and alcohol-free environment for those aged 16-25. But on the day in June when 12 people were shot and killed in Cumbria, the Centre took on a very different function.

The Shackles Off Team reports: "On Wednesday 2 June 2010, a mist was over the sea and the sun had broken through. It was just an ordinary day. Some first heard the news on the radio, or later on television, but most people knew nothing of the events that were unfolding until the gunman had gone through our village. Seascale had shut down.

This was a day no-one will ever forget. Every individual will always remember where they were, what they were doing and the emotions they felt.

Shackles Off Drop-In Centre was used as a point of contact for the emergency services and as a refuge for those who had witnessed the horrific events outside. It was used as a hospital to help keep a man alive until further help came, and later it was used as a base for the investigating police detectives. For two days after that we stayed open to offer support and to comfort one another; our friends and our community.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones. As we later gathered together for a Service of Remembrance, over 500 people turned out in the rain to pray for those lost, hear comforting words and to stand together as a community united in grief and in mourning. A minute's silence was held and, as the service closed, there was an opportunity to lay a flower at the foot of our driftwood cross, made with wood from our beach.

Here in this village of Seascale, John Wesley's words were lived out by everyone.

'Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can'"

(Source: Buzz 85)

Football and films on the church's big screen
From: Burton Road Methodist Church, Lincoln

"What a way to start the 2010 World Cup - that a church with its 12 foot screen should open its doors to the public to watch the England matches!", says Mark Thompson of Burton Road Methodist Church. "We sent off a publicity email which resulted in brilliant coverage on local BBC radio, local BBC tv, national BBC breakfast news and ITV news. We had a great turnout from the church but it was also fantastic that some local teenagers came along after hearing in the media about what we were doing. The party atmosphere was helped with face painting, inflatable footballs, air horns, balloons and a massive England flag."

"Making good use of the technology we have in the church is not new to us. In 2008 we held a Star Wars weekend and following long negotiations with the film studios have managed to get special permission to show the whole of the Lord of The Rings Trilogy during November 2010. We're busy getting the publicity ready for this epic showing of all three extended versions of the films, culminating in a special Lord of The Rings themed service. All with a 3KW full 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound system in a church!

The aim of showing events like the World Cup is all about opening up the buildings and technology we have and sharing it with those who live around us. It's also about letting people see the church in a different light to that which is often portrayed and perceived. It's about offering a safe space away from the traditional alcohol fuelled venues and offering a family friendly environment in which to enjoy events together."

(Source: Buzz 84)

Youth Space: a new church designed by young people for young people, for God
From the Cardiff Circuit

Youth Space is an exciting new church opened on 8 May by Revd Dr Stephen Wigley, Chair of the Wales Synod, before he handed the keys to the youngest participant in the scheme, Esther (12), who with friends David and Sarah (pictured) cut the red ribbon across the entrance.

Youth Space works through participation, where those involved in the project (aged 11-18), play an active role in decision-making. The building, which was formerly a church parlour, was renovated for Youth Space and includes accessible toilets and a kitchen. It is self-contained with its own access and when Youth Space took up ownership in February it was a bare plaster shell. Six of the participants spent half term decorating Youth Space in their chosen colours, representing the seasons and zoning different areas of activity by colour.

The vision was to create a safe space for young people (aged 11-18); to support young people from across Cardiff in discovering themselves, their community and the world through informal learning rooted in the Methodist Church.

Revd Susan McIvor, Minister for Youth Work in Cardiff, said, "It's fantastic to have space that's specifically set aside for work with young people 24/7. Here they have the opportunity to worship in ways which are relevant to them, and to be supported in discovering what it means to be a Christian in the 21st century. Like every church we're called to serve not only ourselves and that's why we're starting our first weekday project called, 'Somewhere to Go'".

Speaking about the 'Somewhere to Go' project, Ian Thomas, Circuit Youth Worker said, "We heard from young people on the local streets over the last six months that what they really wanted was somewhere to go, so we've launched a pilot project with that name and our latest idea is to develop this into a weekday juice bar. There's much work to be done on this but the future looks very interesting".

(Source: Buzz 83)

Buzz promotes an international friendship
From the Derby (Derwent Mission) Circuit

A church service with a difference led to international friendships after a special Christingle service, the brainchild of deacon June Harrison, was featured in The Buzz in 2007. It was seen by Carolyn Huntsman, lay pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Loveday, Texas, USA. She was so impressed with the initiative that she got in touch and invited us to become a sister church.

Jean Parton, church steward of St Thomas's Road Methodist Church said: "Since then, we've been awash with emails, gifts, newsletters and prayer requests from our American friends. And, we were delighted to share in each other's joy as we both celebrated Centennial events; one of our circuit churches, St Thomas's Road, marked its Century of Witness in January 2008 and, in January 2010, our Texan colleagues commemorated 100 years of sanctuary and 140 years in Loveday." Jean felt honoured to join them for their celebrations. The visit was enlightening, showing her the different ways in which the Southern American church worshipped.

Jean said " It is hoped that my visit will be the first of many exchange visits when the two churches will learn more of each other and share ways of proclaiming the good news of Jesus."

Christingle services are held from Advent to Epiphany. This festive celebration communicates the Christian message in an inspiring way to adults and children alike.

(Source: Buzz 82) 

Rural churches urged to value small Fresh Expressions
From the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District

Christians from villages and towns across Shropshire and Herefordshire defied the big freeze in January to take part in a Fresh Expressions vision day at Ludlow.
Warmed by hot coffee and freshly baked cookies and pastries, participants discovered how fresh expressions of church could take shape in their part of the country. Fresh Expressions' director of training, Andrew Roberts, in talking about the development of fresh expressions in rural communities, highlighted principles and stories that reflected the value of 'thinking small'.

The Ludlow day, organized by the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury Methodist District and Diocese of Hereford, took place at Ludlow Conference Centre. Speakers were Jeff Reynolds, superintendent of the Stafford Circuit, and Louisa Haynes, ecumenical youth worker at Aldridge Methodist Church. Church Army's Kathleen Boyland led a seminar on her project - CoffeeCraft, which offers friendship and support over coffee and craftwork in various rural venues across Shropshire and Herefordshire.

Organiser, Sally Cooke, outreach worker with St Laurence's, Church Stretton, gave a seminar on the mission shaped intro (msi) course. After running an msi locally in Autumn 2009, she had put together a resource box including everything needed to run the course and this is available from the Conference Centre library.

Sally said that the day had been a great springboard to future fresh expressions work and hoped it marked the start of many good things going on across the area.

(Source: Buzz 81)

From Birmingham International Student Homes (BISH), Birmingham District
More rooms for overseas students

BISH is a Birmingham District charity providing a home away from home for overseas students at all three Birmingham universities. Last year 350 guests from 53 countries enjoyed our hospitality and the care and support we offer to all our guests who are often away from home for the first time.

Since last autumn, BISH has been able to provide five extra rooms that are available to short stay guests, in what was the former stable block. The block had fallen into disrepair and was condemned some years ago but with well managed funds and help from a district grant and local churches it has been possible to replace the roof, install new bathroom facilities and restore it to full working order.

BISH welcomes all nationalities and all religions and we are every-day living proof of how well people can enjoy such a mixed community.

(Source: Buzz 80)

From New Central Methodist Church, Blackpool Circuit
Methodist church awarded Marque of Excellence

New Central has become the first sacred site in Blackpool to be awarded the Marque of Excellence by the North West Multi Faith Tourism Association (NWMFTA).

The marque is awarded to those sacred worship spaces that are not only open for people to view the heritage and history of the site, but also surpass a standard of excellence in welcoming visitors. New Central is described by NWMFTA as "an outstanding example of a sacred site that exists to serve not only its own congregation but to reach out and welcome the whole community." 

(Source: Buzz 79)


From Queen's Road Methodist Church, Royston, Cambridge Circuit
Service in a shoebox!

Every Saturday morning Queen's Road Methodist Church holds a 'Coffee Break' when folk can get together, have a chat and enjoy a cup of Fairtrade coffee and biscuits. On the first Saturday in November it was decided to do something different, so a 'Coffee Break Special' was held when, as well as enjoying coffee and biscuits, shoe boxes were decorated and filled, as part of 'Operation Christmas Child'.

There were tables laden with gifts that had been given and were waiting to go into the empty boxes, which a team was decorating with bright Christmas paper. When the boxes had been filled they were piled up ready to go to the collection centre.

While this was going on, church members and friends were bringing in boxes which they had already decorated and filled at home. These, along with some from the 3rd Royston Methodist Guides, were added to the pile and when all the available boxes had been filled it came to a grand total of 68 colourful gifts, destined to bring joy to some of the world's most deprived children.

(Source: Buzz 78) 

From the Gloucestershire Circuit
Gloucestershire Methodists support interfaith suppers in a 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 Sleaford Circuit
Birthday biker, Doug, pedals for pounds

To celebrate his 75th birthday and on every birthday for the past six years, Doug Laidlow has cycled 100 miles to raise funds for his local church, Little Hale Methodist Chapel. Over the years, Doug reckons he has raised around £3,000 through the supportive sponsorship of friends and neighbours in Little Hale.

Doug was introduced to cycling by his father in 1947 and has enjoyed cycling, both for pleasure and competition, ever since. In 2004 he thought that a good way to celebrate his 70th birthday would be to cycle a 10 mile circuit, 10 times, and really enjoyed the support of friends and neighbours as he 'flew' around the village raising funds for the chapel. And so every year since, on the 'Glorious Twelfth' Doug has donned his birthday suit of cycling gear and pushed the pedals for 100 miles, completing the ride in around 6hrs 30mins. He says 'Hopefully this celebration will continue for many more years, though the distance just might be reduced over time'

Congratulations and many more laps, Doug!

(Source: Buzz 76)

From the Middlesborough and Eston Circuit
Walking the circuit

The congregation at Grove Hill Methodist Church returned to their beautiful newly refurbished church in March after spending eight months worshipping at a local Anglican church. Upon their return a substantial amount of money had still to be found and so the fundraising continues. Dave Elliott came up with a novel idea and decided to do a sponsored circuit walk which, to his knowledge, had never been done before. 

On August 3 a small group of walkers set off from Grove Hill to complete the walk, taking in every Methodist church in the circuit. A group of friends decided to keep Dave company, including one person in her 70s and one member of the Sunday School who is 12 years old. They were joined by friends from other churches in the circuit and also a member from the local Roman Catholic church, making it a truly united group of Christians.

The weather for the walk was perfect and the majority of churches opened their doors providing typical Methodist hospitality of food, drinks and fellowship. A distance of 21 miles was walked, covering a variety of terrains and visiting many diverse areas of the circuit. At the end of the walk there was a real sense of achievement and around £100 was raised.

"So what next?" asks Dave. "Well we thought about a walk around the circuit as it would have been in the 1930s, discovering some long since closed churches and remembering their witness and service. One very ambitious plan suggested by a group member towards the end of our walk, is to visit, on foot, one church in every circuit in the Darlington District, but that will be next year….maybe!"

(Source: Buzz 75)

From the Weston-Super-Mare and Burnham on Sea Circuit
A good Chat (Chaplaincy about Town) goes down well in Weston-Super-Mare 

A cup of coffee and a safe space in which to share sorrows and joys is the everyday work of the ecumenical Chat community, based in a shop in the centre of Weston-Super-Mare. An example of Fresh Expressions, the shop is open every day, except Sunday, and sells locally made crafts which attract passers-by as well as those who want to chat over a 'cuppa'. The shop also houses a chapel used for morning and evening prayer including intercessory prayer for anyone who requests it. Staff includes one paid chaplain and volunteer chaplains, both lay and ordained.

As well as being on hand to listen to those who come into the shop, the chaplains can be seen about the town in their bright yellow jackets, either listening or signposting people to other agencies. On Fridays during the summer there is a Listening Post in a gazebo in the main thoroughfare in Weston-Super-Mare. The chaplains also attend many exhibitions and fun days held on the sea front. Chat has the support of businesses in the town and has been invited to offer a listening service to staff at the Town Hall.

All volunteers have attended an Acorn Christian Listening course. As they extend their work they continue to grow into a supportive, caring community having taken part in a weekend retreat and holding monthly supper and prayer evenings.

(Source: Buzz 74)

From St John's Methodist Church, Southborough

Discovering a number of youth bands in the town, with nowhere to practise or demonstrate their talent, St John's Church decided to host 'Battle of the Bands'. Auditions were held to decide which bands would play in the competition and on the day in question, the hall was transformed from a place of worship to a rock venue!

Prizes were generously supplied by two local music shops with the church giving HMV vouchers for individual prizes (best singer etc). The winning band - Mercury - won a recording session provided by Sunlight Studios in Gillingham. All band members and their families were very appreciative of the effort the church put in to make the event a success.

From South West Cumbria Circuit
By going 'above and beyond' the call of duty as a chaplain at BAE Barrow and Sellafield power station, Deacon Tom Luke has drummed up an amazing amount of interest in the charity he supports in Africa.The workers at both organisations provided football kits for 'Lebone Land' - a HIV orphanage and adult training centre in South Africa where children whose parents have died can be cared for and educated in a Christian context. Tom and his wife, who have raised a huge amount of money for the centre, go there every year to visit the children and help support the staff.

(Source: Buzz 65)

From Wesley Methodist Church and 30 other congregations, High Wycombe and District
Wycombe Winter Night Shelter (WWNS) provided emergency care for homeless people from January to March 2008. Seven churches provided venues one night each week and over 200 volunteers helped with the scheme.

Each night up to ten people were provided with not only the essentials of a warm shelter, dinner, bed and breakfast but also friendship and practical support including advice oneviction, job loss, relationship breakdown, incapacity, alcohol and drug abuse, release from prison, mental health and despair. One way or another all those who stayed with us were helped into more permanent accommodation.

WWNS was a catalyst for multi-agency engagement from Wycombe District Council, the probation service, the Old Tea Warehouse hostel, the police, the Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme and several drug and alcohol counselling services. WWNS is now continuing advocacy two days a week for the other nine months of the year.

(Source: Buzz 64)

From Coventry Central Hall
After hearing about The Prayer Shawl Ministry a small group of us began to meet in Wesley's Coffee Shop on Thursday afternoons. The first shawl we made was taken to a church member in hospital who gained great comfort from the gift and the accompanying prayer. The second was made for a terminally ill friend who took it with him into the hospice and was wearing it when he died.

This ministry has grown so much that we recently took 15 shawls to the local hospice. They were dedicated by the chaplain who told us how very comforting they were to both patients and relatives. In particular we make brightly coloured shawls for bereaved children who love to wrap themselves in them.

This is a ministry of prayer and compassion, which has also helped those producing the shawls, as some have been recently bereaved themselves. We consider the process as outreach too because as we are knitting, folks ask what we are making and meaningful conversations often follow. 

(Source: Buzz 63) 

From Basingstoke Circuit 
Throughout Lent we offered individuals across the circuit an exciting new opportunity to make a personal, reflective journey using a book called 'How to Pray'. Almost 100 of us took part, and we began by learning how to slow down enough in everyday life to become aware of God. Next, we were introduced to a wide range of ways into prayer.

All were welcome to join in supportive daytime and evening church groups, but it was equally stressed that it was possible to make the journey individually, or to drop in on a group on just a couple of occasions. The process began with worship on Ash Wednesday and paused with a service on Palm Sunday when we were encouraged to continue in prayer in whatever ways seemed helpful to us.

The circuit is now reflecting on the next stage of our journey into prayer. 

(Source: Buzz 62)

From Sedbergh Church, Cumbria District 
Wanting to better serve our older members and realising that many had little contact other than in Sunday services, we put our heads together and 'Carols and Company' was born. At this afternoon event (with personal invitations and organised transport) we sang carols, shared fellowship and had afternoon tea. The event was so popular that a month later, we organised 'Tea and Company' where we sang hymns, listened to readings and gave a birthday cake to a lady who had apparently never had one! Another afternoon is planned for this month and word has got around with existing attendees asking if they can bring a friend.

It seems to be a successful format that is obviously filling a local need. We see it as outreach too, as people from outside the chapel are now starting to come along.

(Source: Buzz 61)

From the Leeds District
A team of 14 Street Chaplains, accompanied by the neighbourhood police team, went out onto the streets of Leeds city centre one Friday night, chatting and offering help to the revellers coming out of the pubs and clubs and the taxi drivers and door keepers who work throughout the evening.

It was a real step forward in terms of the Church's mission - getting outside our buildings and onto the streets. So much of our work is concerned with the daytime life of Leeds but this is a project which addressed one of the busiest times in the life of the city.

(Source: Buzz 59)

From Saltaire Methodist Church, Saltaire
This year we have again responded to the needs of our local community and turned our worship area into an art gallery for the Saltaire Festival. Last year we housed the Methodist Art Collection, and this year, the sculpture, woodcarving and paintings of David Moore and Richard Smith, who portray their deep understanding of the Christian story with humour, imagination and a healthy scepticism. Over 500 visitors viewed the art, and as stewards talked to visitors, opportunities were created to tell Bible stories and talk of God to people who may never normally cross a church's threshold.

(Source: Buzz 58)

From Lincoln North Circuit
The God Pod - our ministry minibus - makes weekly visits to the shopping area in the village of Cherry Willingham and has become part of the local scene. The 'Pod' has allowed us to establish a Church presence in public and every week we stand as witnesses for Jesus, come rain or shine! We help to carry shopping, chat to shop owners, invite people onboard for a hot drink and ask locals if they have any prayer requests.

Is it easy being there every week? No! Jesus never said it would be. But he did say, "You will be my witnesses". Why not invite the Pod to your community to find out more...

(Source: Buzz 57)

From Galloway's Society for the Blind, Preston Circuit
Thirteen years ago we started producing weekly taped recordings of the Methodist Recorder and sending them out to blind and partially sighted people. Today, over 500 people throughout the UK receive either a tape, CD or a digital copy. We also produce many other publications, including the Reform magazine for the United Reformed Church, The Universe Catholic Newspaper and the Salvation Army's War Cry. This is what happens when the Lord gives you a push to do something!

The recordings travel Free Post via Royal Mail and once 'read' are returned to us in the special wallets for recording again the following week. The service is free of charge to users, but costs us about £12,000 a year to run. Amazingly, this is somehow always met through donations from local churches and recently, a wonderful legacy of £5000 from a former listener in Wales!

(Source: Buzz 56)

From Nexus, Manchester
We have just begun meeting as Church in a bar in Manchester city centre. We wanted to leave our comfort zone behind and be where everybody else is. This also makes it more accessible for people to join with us. We begin by catching up with each other, we learn by discussing a theme together and we close with prayers of intercession in which we talk about concerns and issues in our lives. So far, people love it and it has attracted many who have never been to church. I'm looking forward to ordering a bread roll and a glass of red wine for when we do communion! We're hoping it grows so we can start other meetings at different bars on different nights.

(Source: Buzz 55) 

From Bideford Circuit, Devon
We realised that a number of people in the circuit had once exercised their musical gifts by playing various brass-band instruments - but had given up!  Our minister wondered if we could get together to play for worship occasionally.  We raised some money with coffee mornings and bought second-hand instruments for those who no longer had them, invited people still in bands to join, and now we practice and play regularly.  We've given our gifts back to God, and feel blessed in doing so.  It's also brought some people into church who wouldn't otherwise be there.

(Source: Buzz 52)

From Walton Vale, North Liverpool
We've been running this project a year now. People drop in to use the internet to keep in touch with home. We have a listening service, family access point, library, craft scheme, and placement provider for people with learning disabilities. We share the message of God's love with coffee and light snacks. We see all our café users as a parallel congregation: we also have help from the local RC and C of E churches. The project cost around £200,000 and was paid for mainly by the people of the church who saw church as being a bigger place than within the walls.

(Source: Buzz 50)

From Moulsham Lodge Church, Chelmsford
We've worked with the local Co-op store to promote an Essex-wide appeal called Harvest for the Hungry. It's a Euroaid project working for the people of eastern Europe. In the store, we set up a stand to encourage people to buy food items, and near the exit was a special trolley into which people could put their gifts. We've had great co-operation and a great response.

(Source: Buzz 49)

From Partington, Trafford, Manchester
A follow-up to last month's BUZZ. We've also been creating a garden on what used to be a mess! In partnership with the local housing authority, the council, not to mention guides, brownies, local police and a pub, our garden's into its second season and has just received the Civic Trust Green Pennant Award. The garden's open every day, and we've served tea on Tuesdays during the summer. We want the garden to inspire hope, imagination and further collaboration in the community.

(Source: Buzz 48)

From Mansfield Street, Derby Derwent Mission Circuit
With the help of a gift we refurbished our hall. Our youngest member started a Parent and Baby group, which now has 18 members with 21 children. The son of one of our members has (with a partner) set up a mobile gym of treadmills and rowing machines to run fitness classes. The oldest 'user' is 80-plus! Such opportunities for service and outreach have given us a real sense of renewal, joy and hope.

(Source: Buzz 48)

From Llanishen, Cardiff
We've designed and created a Quiet Garden along the lines laid down by the Quiet Garden Trust. It's a place of stillness and rest, located in the grounds of our church. The project took 3 years, working through Churches Together. Already, people are using the garden, which is open every day during daylight hours. Children from the local primary school have designed bookmarks to help publicise the garden. These have been placed in local libraries and shops.

(Source: Buzz 47)

From Paulton, Bristol District
For 2006, we decided to fundraise for one charity for the whole year. We chose to help Kanyawegi, an orphanage in Kenya set up by former villager, Jim Dawe. The main source of fundraising is very simple - a bring and buy stall in our hall, which is used by many different groups during the week. In four months we've raised over £300 for the orphanage: have a look at .

(Source: Buzz 45)

From Brimrod, Rochdale
We signed up to Oasis Trust's 'Faithworks': researching our area, we wanted to save our local library from closure by the Council. We helped the community to form a Friends of the Library to challenge the decision and come up with alternatives. Sadly, the library did close, but a mobile library now uses the church car park every other Monday, and the local school is able to send pupils to use it. We open up and run a community information centre at the same time, with refreshments for adults and children.

(Source: Buzz 44)

From Cheadle, Staffs (and lots of other places in Staffs!)...
20 years ago, our then minister David Watson (now in Somerset) encouraged us to develop our community work. We began a lunch club. Now there are 10 clubs all over the Staffordshire moorland area, and Home Link, which runs them, also provides transport to clinics and hospitals, a home bathing service, telephone befriending and a drop-in centre. Over 200 volunteers plus some paid staff maintain it all, serving about 500 people a week. Many volunteers come from Methodist and other churches in the area. Funding isn't easy, but we survive!

(Source: Buzz 44)

From Shirley, Croydon
We wanted to increase our contact with children and families, so we've been opening our whole premises one Friday Night each month. We do a leaflet drop, and lay on a mix of activities, including basic and exhibition cookery, craft, board games, snooker, table tennis, discussion ... even beginners' Bridge! Older carers as well as teenagers and others are enjoying it, and now we're looking for more ways to support and nourish them.

(Source: Buzz 43)

From Loughton, London NE
We've been serving coffee in our foyer for 19 years, but it was looking drab. A designer and architect from our congregation dreamed a makeover, and with a generous gift we now have an up-to-date area with armchairs, leather sofas, magazines and a Fair Trade menu. We have a picket-fenced play area with quality toys to attract young parents with children, as does story-telling at half-term. Police drop-in happens once a week. It's also used for café worship.

(Source: Buzz 42)

From Salisbury
One woman attended an Acorn Christian Listening seminar, and felt "I could do that!" From that original inspiration, we've created, through the support and encouragement of many people, an ecumenical "Listening" service for the local area.  Housed in, and supported by Salisbury Methodist Church, Acorn-trained listeners are available, for anyone and everyone, on  three days a week.  Five listeners have trained as tutors and Christian Listening courses are now a part of the local scene.

(Source: Buzz 41)

From Wignall Memorial Church, Thornton-Cleveleys
We've recently opened the Thornton Community Office on our premises: it's ground-breaking for us, and also provides some income! It's staffed by an 'army' of local volunteers, and provides a place where local people can leave messages for the police. It's also providing addresses, contact numbers etc. for a number of organisations and agencies.

(Source: Buzz 40 )

From Penarth Circuit, South Wales
We asked MRDF for a project suitable for harvest giving: they told us about the need for oxen for Temedo, northern Uganda. Our three churches raised far more than usual - over £1000, enough for 16 oxen. Our smallest congregation at Eastbrook said they'd try to buy one, but actually bought 2½! Having a specific project certainly worked for us, and we were delighted to see pictures of the oxen arriving!

(Source: Buzz 39)

From Prestbury, Cheshire
We put together an "Alternative Christmas Fair".  We got 26 organisations to come to "sell" alternative charity gifts - like goats, mosquito nets, mine clearance equipment. 400 people came, and we think the total given was more than £5000.

(Source: Buzz 38)

From Brackley, Northants
We asked people at Harvest to "give" a flock of sheep (£65), a fruit tree (£5) or other specific gifts for World Vision, Christian Aid etc rather than bring traditional produce. The Junior Church prepared suitable pictures, and we were delighted by the response - far more money than usual.

(Source: Buzz 38)

From Paisley, Scotland
We're a local charity and limited company called Rainbow Turtle, which grew out of a Traidcraft stall. Our first shop, which is in the Central Hall here, now has a turnover of more than £100,000 a year. It's run by 40 volunteers (including Methodist, RC, Church of Scotland and others). We're opening another shop in Linlithgow this month. We also support a sewing group in Maputo, Mozambique, which makes great clerical gear. (We have some XL clerical shirts for large ministers!). The name? You'll have to ask!

(Source: Buzz 37)

From East Midlands Airport, Castle Donnington
Local Christians are involved in the work of the County Air Ambulance. We recently held a service of thanksgiving in a hanger, surrounded by three helicopters. A flight paramedic told the story of a rescue, and one of those rescued paid tribute to his work in saving her life. With music from local Methodist and Catholic choirs, the service was a reminder of the dedication of caring people, many of them Christians.

(Source: Buzz 36)

From MIH, Bristol
Bristol and Bath areas have a well-developed Major Emergency Plan, in which we're involved as members of the response team, with people of other faiths. The task is to offer support to all those affected by an incident, including members of the emergency services. All of the team have been trained, and are issued with ID cards to permit access to cordoned areas. MIH is an alternative site for the coordination of the plan in an emergency.

(Source: Buzz 35)

From Hucclecote, Gloucester
We've started an environmentally-friendly Cargo Trike Delivery Service, run by the Green Cross Co-op: we felt a co-op fitted best with our Christian principles. We offer home deliveries from two local stores for elderly or infirm people. The start-up costs came from the co-op and grants from local and District funds, but the service has to be self-financing, so journeys cost £1.50. The part-time Trike volunteers are trained in road and food safety. The aim is to combine faith with economic activity - work and worship in one.

(Source: Buzz 34)

From St Andrews, Brandon, Co Durham
Back in 2000, we took on the task of raising money for the Morning Star school in a very deprived fishing village near Colombo, Sri Lanka. The £4000 we raised helped build new classrooms and a clinic, and numbers increased four-fold. Then on Boxing Day the school was completely destroyed. We're deeply saddened, but we know we must help rebuild it, and other churches in Brandon are raising money too.

(Source: Buzz 32)

From New Central, Blackpool
There are about 50 homeless people in our town area at any one time - though the number fluctuates during the year. We've started a 'comfort zone' where homeless people can sit and have food, do their laundry, meet with the local homeless action team, and receive first aid. They can also, if they wish, become part of the church community via our Wednesday coffee shop services. The project is not publicly funded: it's supported by church members and staffed by volunteers.

(Source: Buzz 31)

From Kenilworth, Warwickshire
We've been reviewing the needs of the local community. We contacted local government, health, police, charities etc to find out what's being done, and what needs doing. Now we have to deal with the needs which are not being met! We've shared it with Churches Together, and we're having an audit of the gifts and skills we can offer. Each church is developing its own mission strategy within the overall agreed priorities, and all the local bodies want to meet with us to address the wider issues: it's a first for our town.

(Source: Buzz 30)

From Ryde, Isle of Wight
One of our members went to Romania just after the end of the old regime to help with education projects. One outcome was a charity (Romania Education Vision Action). REVA, supported by island churches and communities, now has a centre in Targu-Mures providing support and therapy for children with complex needs and their parents. Rotary paid for a sensory room. We support other families with clothes, toiletries and food, and work with a large gypsy community. We're trying to make the whole work self-sufficient.

(Source: Buzz 29)

From Huxley, near Chester
We're a small chapel with 11 members in a tiny community, but we're on the tourist trail, partly because of famous ice-cream made on a local farm. We decided to open up on Saturday afternoons, and it's been great: we've had 50 walkers, cyclists and tourists most weeks. We offer teas, cakes (from the WI), Fair Trade goods, a book stall and a spirituality corner. We've been amazed at the conversations we've had, and it's strengthened our faith. We're developing our graveyard as a wildflower meadow as well.

(Source: Buzz 28)

From Central, Burnley
Our church was built with an unusable underground car park, which became a dumping ground for 40 years. It's in the night club part of town. We've worked with police, the youth offending team, CVS, plus various statutory and charity bodies to develop a high-class non-alcoholic club, with ecumenical support. Fully equipped with disco lights, sound system, video, fridges etc, the Basement Project opened in June after 2 years' work. It's already been a success for young people who've been trained there in plastering, decorating etc, and now is in contact with hundreds.

(Source: Buzz 27)

From Christchurch, Hitchin
About 4 years ago, a local authority initiative to offer computer training to the unwaged was running out of funds. One of our members suggested we could take it on. It's been a great success, with more than 200 people passing through so far. We've provided secure storage, and successfully applied for a Community Award. We rely on donations and invite anyone to use the Computer Centre, which is open on Mondays and Thursdays. There's a volunteer staff of 6 from our own church, the parish church and the local community.

(Source: Buzz 27)

From Stainforth, Doncaster Circuit
We had a collapsing floor, dilapidated buildings, and 11 members: there was high unemployment after a recent mine closure. Our bleak future was transformed by a request from the local Citizens Advice Bureau: they had council money, but no suitable building to renovate! It's been tricky at times, but we've ended up with a restored church, CAB, a Job Centre, some new buildings, car parking and lots of HOPE, which is what we've called the new centre: Help, Opportunities, Peace and Prayer, and Enterprise.

(Source: Buzz 25) 

From North Chelmsford, Essex
Following a visit to churches at Naivasha in Kenya, an area impoverished by unemployment and AIDS, and knowing the enormous needs of the girls' school there, we (a small committee from Broomfield and elsewhere) set about finding answers. The local authority depot provided bookcases and computer desks, the secondary school raised £1500 and gave 500 school bags, the prison gave eight reconditioned bikes, and Lab Aid gave a fully-equipped science lab. The whole lot, plus pens, PE equipment and more, went in a 40' container, which is now used for storage.

(Source: Buzz 23)

From Windhill LEP, Shipley, W Yorks
This is a deprived area of the town. At Christchurch, we've worked closely with the Community Association for several years: some in both groups know each other from their schooldays! There's a weekly food co-op, and a community furniture store. Now, the Windhill Futures Project has a worker funded by Anglican and Methodist sources, and it's just received a Duke of York's Community Initiative Award. We have plans to rebuild and refurbish buildings to provide much-needed community space.

(Source: Buzz 22)

From Langley, Macclesfield
The village shop closed in 1995. We decided to open our Church one morning a week so the village could have somewhere to meet, talk and swap news. So our Coffee & Chat morning took off and has proved a great success with 40+ people most weeks. A bonus has been that 5 people have become members after enjoying the Christian welcome at the Coffee & Chat. We're now looking on this as a model for further outreach activities.

(Source: Buzz 21)

From Halebank, Widnes
We're part of a small estate with few facilities, surrounded by industry. The old church was in a poor state, but the hall was OK. It's taken nearly ten years, but we've redeveloped in partnership with the Primary Care Trust, who now lease a reception area and consulting rooms. The hall's now a multi-purpose worship area used by youth groups etc. 10% (£30k+) was raised by the small congregation: the rest came from Landfill (WREN*), trusts and the local authority.

*WREN contact: 01953 717165
(Source: Buzz 20)

From Sprotborough, Doncaster
Six years ago, the children's Fun Club had just six children. We decided to get a new rota of volunteer leaders together. We now have up to 15 leaders from the congregation, and 150 children aged 7 - 11, with 80 attending each Friday. We've obviously taken Safeguarding seriously, and no leader is ever alone with children. We offer crafts, table games, videos, disco and karaoke, and with a 25p entrance and 'tuck', we're self-financing. Due to building work, we're meeting in the church at present: we think Jesus would approve!

(Source: Buzz19)

From Matlock, Derbyshire
We picked up the idea of holding an Alternative Christmas Market. We began in May, contacting various charities. They sent posters, leaflets etc, and indicated the cost of particular 'presents' - so much for a cow, some chickens, a fruit tree or a pair of sandals. Those who 'purchased' the presents could take away cards explaining to their relative or friend the present they had given from the Market. On this first occasion nearly £1500 was given: we'll do it again next year - with Gift Aid as well!

(Source: Buzz18)

From Chapel Street, Penzance (- and elsewhere. Ed.)
'Light up the Night' started 2 years ago on October 31st. It's a Christian party alternative to the darker side of Hallowe'en. For a small fee (£1) we invite all ages to come to our Centenary Hall for bungy-jumping donuts, nodding apples, balloon stomp, munchies and, this year, a graffiti wall. We play a variety of Christian music throughout. We get publicity from local media, and the opportunity to talk about why we're doing it. An idea for next year?

(Source: Buzz17)

From Swansea and Gower Circuit
A year ago 3 Zimbabwean women came to our Morriston church. They'd no money and were hungry: we discovered there were a total of 10 in 2 families. We organised practical help and put them in touch with the Refugee Council. Now the Circuit has a drop-in centre, with a second one planned. We've also collected (at Harvest) cash and non-perishable food. There are asylum seekers in 2 local congregations, and 2 of the original group have become active church members.

(Source: Buzz16)

From: The Lincoln and Grimsby District
"When cars started to roll into the car park at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby on 17 July for the Lincoln and Grimsby District Fun Day we were excited that plans had come together and that people of all ages had travelled from far and wide to be there", reports Alison McNish, PA to the Lincoln & Grimsby District Chair. The Aviation Heritage Centre, kindly loaned to the district by local Methodists, Fred and Harold Panton, provided a perfect venue with plenty of space for activities, craft, games and picnics, all with the dramatic backdrop of a Lancaster bomber. Visitors were able to explore the museum at their leisure and take part in the activities and games organised by members of the District Youth Team. Outgoing Chair of District, David Perry, had the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of the Lancaster and he was later seen in the stocks where the ministerial synod secretary made sure that he got very wet!

(Source Buzz 99)

From Appledore, near Ashford (Kent)
This Methodist chapel with just 5 members has been revitalised by volunteer labour and renamed the Appledore Christian Centre. We've built an office in the church hall for the use of Caring All Together in Romney Marsh - a Christian charity working alongside Social Services in caring for the elderly. It's also the office for the Anglican parish church, where Methodists share worship once a month. The chapel has a future.

(Source: Buzz1)

From Eastville Park, Bristol
We've re-furbished a corner shop. We use it as our worship centre, and we're also trying to promote it for community use. We've employed a part-time centre manager to work on this. We sent out a 'professional' leaflet canvassing the locality for what they would like to see happening, with a freepost tear-off slip for reply. We were very pleased with the number returned, and are now trying to put on some of the activities suggested. (Keep fit was top of the list!)

(Source: Buzz2)

From Woore, near Nantwich, Cheshire
When one of our members fell through the chapel floor, we knew we had a problem! We raised £19k to sort it out. A few years ago, with 6 members, we wondered whether we'd have to close, but now our congregation numbers 25, playing a full part in the life of the village. Up to 40 come to the weekly coffee morning, and 15 - 20 to the lunch club that follows it: both are free, but donations cover the costs. The chapel has become a working, visiting, caring focus. We already have one house group, and soon we'll start another.

(Source: Buzz3)

From Banjul, The Gambia, West Africa
We're a young church, and the members face unemployment after school, so we've started a small self-help group, called KoMeKa*, to provide employment (for 6 so far) and generate income for the church. The project is also reaching out to Christian and Muslim neighbours. We make cards and small painted baskets, and soon ÔWanjo-in-a-bag' - dried flowers to make a refreshing drink, in a beautiful tie-dye bag. Orders from UK churches welcome! Samples available. *Ask!

(Source: Buzz4)

From West Bradford, Clitheroe circuit
We had a Ôspare' vestry in our chapel at West Bradford. The village post office had been run by a couple from their house. When they gave up, it looked as though the office could not continue. No solution was found until the vestry was offered, and a young mum agreed to staff it two mornings a week, starting in a few weeks. We're more than happy to help out to provide this vital lifeline for the village. Any more spare vestries in country chapels around?

(Source: Buzz5)

From Maputo, Mozambique
On 5th October we (the Mozambican HIV/AIDS Christian Network) published a Declaration expressing our responses to the impact of the pandemic in Southern Africa. Confessing we'd been slow to act and to show compassion, we committed ourselves to a programme of education, training, prevention and advocacy, challenging ignorance and prejudice. We've promised to prepare liturgies which include and do not stigmatise sufferers, whom we welcome in our churches.

(Source: Buzz6)

From Hinckley, Leicestershire
We're a team of around 20. About 12 are retired, a few with building experience. We've been working each week - 3,600 hours in 12 months, saving about £100,000. The task is the redevelopment of our buildings, which are used by up to 300 worshippers, plus uniformed organisations, keep-fit and drama groups, pre-school and community activities. We've managed this without needing to close the premises, except in half-term holidays. We've raised and spent £100,000 so far.

(Source: Buzz7)

From Liverpool city centre
We're baking bread and building hope above a shop. What began as the death of the old Central Hall has become new life in a ministry to Big Issue vendors and a community of Christians exploring faith. A music tutor recently gave time to teach guitar to some vendors. We got a dozen guitars by asking around local churches - now the group needs a drum-kit! And we're setting up ÔUsing your Loaf' - to teach literacy, numeracy and food hygiene. As the Rev. Barbara Glasson says, 'This is a brilliant place to be!'

(Source: Buzz8)

From Mumbles, S Wales ( )
For some time we've worked at serving the community with a Pop-In, two youth clubs and a Day Centre. Members joined Mumbles Community Action, later a Development Trust: it gave us the bigger picture. We're redeveloping our listed building to include a CafŽ and the Tourist Information Office, which will bring 50,000 people through our doors each year. A driving force in all this is the weekly prayer group, and our house groups. 'It's all tied into the gospel.'

(Source: Buzz9)

From Matlock, Derbyshire
Methodists, with other Christians and the wider community, regularly pack water purification tablets in the church hall for despatch, together with filters and other humanitarian aid, in ÔAquaboxes', monitored by Rotary. Over 30,000 such boxes have been sent via Christian Aid and other agencies over the past 10 years. More than 2 million tablets have been packed! The packing sessions also produce an enjoyable morning get-together.

(Source: Buzz10)

From Christ Church (Methodist/URC) Chichester
We (a lay worker and a youth elder) run a drop-in after-school cafŽ for 11 to 18-year-olds, as our church saw a big gap in its service to young people. ÔBreathe', the youth cafŽ opened almost a year ago, and provides cheap food and drink, in a relaxed cafŽ atmosphere. From the beginning we've had some Christian young people, but always more who have no church connections. We're planning a street advertising campaign to spread the word further. At the moment we're open on Wednesdays, but when we can, it'll be more often.

(Source: Buzz11)

From Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District
We're celebrating this summer, because for the 40th time we'll be taking 40 children on holiday to Edgehill College, Bideford. We raise most of the money (£150 a child) from local churches, though some comes from Social Services and charities. 15 leaders look after the children, who for all sorts of reasons wouldn't otherwise have a holiday. Everyone has a great time, with beach barbecues and all the usual fun of a summer holiday. 40 years young!

(Source: Buzz12)

From Leigh Park, Portsmouth
A year ago, we (50 members) were facing a grim situation. Leigh Park's a very large estate, suffering from poverty, unemployment, drug abuse and vandalism. The church was attacked regularly, with the Sisterhood scared to meet. Sure Start wanted a base in the neighbourhood, and we agreed to provide accommodation. We've had support from the Police, our MP, the local authority and Sure Start: a fence around the building has made it safe. Rooms have been upgraded. A new playgroup has started. We're feeling boosted, and as a member says, 'Now we've got to pull our socks up as well.'

(Source: Buzz13)

From Gosport, Hampshire
We're glad our church facilities are used to the fullest extent for the local community. The list includes Senior Citizens Keep-Fit, an office let to Age Concern, Open Door tea & coffee every morning, Children's Contact Centre, Mother & Toddlers Group, Women's Fellowship, local headquarters of The Friends of Chernobyl's Children, indoor model car racing club, the Squires (Men's Fellowship group) and the usual bazaars. Our church in Stoke Road is a centre for real community outreach.

(Source: Buzz14)

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