Building Communities in Cumbria

Deacon Kerry Scarlett, Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, visited the Cumbria Methodist District from Thursday 25 to Saturday 27 April 2024.

08 May 2024

The visit started in Barrow in Furness, West Cumbria in the Cumbria Methodist District, where Kerry received a warm welcome from the circuit leadership team and the superintendent minister, Revd Dr Helen Hooley.

In the evening, the Vice-President visited the Broughton youth group which meets at Broughton Methodist Church, which is now used as a community hub. The group is linked to the Furness Network Youth Church (covering Ulverston, Coniston, Kirkby, Broughton and Millom) and the Cumbria Network Youth Church.

‘What I experienced at Broughton is a great example of what it means to work ecumenically and share the resources each partner church has,’ says Kerry.

Re:New Charity Shop in Barrow in Furness

The Friday morning started with a visit to the new premises for Re:New in the centre of Barrow in Furness. The South West Cumbria United circuit has had a charity shop in the town since 2018 and has built good relationships with other shops and organisations in and around the town.

The new, larger and more centrally located premises make possible the vision for this to be more than a charity shop. There is a seating area, and coffee bar, and in time, space for new and second-hand books, including Christian books, for people to buy. In time, the hope is that this will become a welcoming and inclusive space for the community.

Cumbria Re New

Shackles Off at Seascale

The Vice-President then travelled along the coastline to Seascale to visit Shackles Off, a Youth Work Project. The story of how Shackles Off’ began is a deeply inspiring one, rooted in prayer and discernment and a willingness from those involved to be brave enough to follow God’s prompting.

What started as a youth club meeting in an empty shop premises, and now meets in the Methodist church hall, has now expanded and developed, and includes partnerships with local schools.

‘It was wonderful to see that this work is still growing and to have a chance to see plans and the site for the new premises, which they hope to move into later in the year. The charity still retains its strong Christian ethos and is supported by volunteers from the Methodist Church and other denominations in the town,’ adds Kerry.

Kerry then met with some of the Deacons in the Cumbria Area Group, for a working tea at the local fish and chip shop- which happens to be the same site where Shackles Off first began.

’As Methodist Deacons, we are part of a religious order, the Methodist Diaconal Order, and we follow a Rule of Life. We commit to meeting together regularly to share, reflect and pray for one another and to discuss any matters relating to the Methodist Diaconal Order or Methodist Conference which we have been asked to consider. It was such a joy to meet with siblings from the Cumbria District, and to learn about their appointments,” explains Kerry.

Kerry then attended the evening session of Shackles Off and had the opportunity to meet more of the staff and volunteers, as well as the chance to play table tennis with some of the young people!

Cumbria Re New

Cumbria district Synod

On Saturday, the Vice-President was invited to attend the morning session of the last Cumbria District Synod, before they become part of the new North West England District. Kerry shared some reflections on her year as Vice-President and what it meant to search for hidden treasures. Revd Dr James Tebbutt, the Chair of the District, then facilitated a question and answer session during which the synod representatives were able to ask questions about Kerry’s experiences over the year so far.