Scenery and spirituality in the Channel Islands

Revd Gill Newton, President of the Methodist Conference, visited the Channel Islands District from 6 to 8 April. Most particularly, Revd Newton set foot on Guernsey and Alderney where she met and engaged with local communities.

18 April 2024

The Bailiwick of Guernsey Circuit has 12 churches in total with 10 in Guernsey, 1 in Alderney and 1 in Sark. With 3 Presbyters in Guernsey and a dwindling pool of Local Preachers historic patterns of worship have been challenged and the Circuit Leadership Team were looking forward to this visit and were keen to explore how similar circumstances are being addressed across the Connexion.

As Revd Newton arrived at lunchtime, she joined Revd Howard Stringer, Superintendent minister of the Bailiwick of Guernsey Circuit & Deputy Chair of the Channel Islands District, and Revd Tim Barker, Dean of Guernsey. She discovered how good the ecumenical relationships on the island are. These relationships had been particularly valuable and powerful during the COVID pandemic when all churches worked together and were able to speak with one voice.

“In many places, Methodist ministers find themselves with plenty of colleagues from their denomination, but in these island contexts where isolation is far more possible, it is wonderful to see how well they work together with colleagues of other denominations,” says Revd Newton.

On that evening, Revd Newton had dinner with Revd Stringer and some members of the Circuit Leadership Team during which they it was helpful to explore the particular challenges and joys of being a Methodist Circuit in an island context.

“The challenges in terms of age demographic, and diminishing people and financial resources are much like elsewhere, but they do face the added challenges of sometimes feeling misunderstood or overlooked by the wider church because of their particular geography,” adds Revd Newton.


Alderney Methodist Church

One day in Alderney

Alderney is a much smaller island – three miles long by one mile wide – than Guernsey and has one Methodist Church. During the day, two church members helped the President discover the best sights of the island by taking her on two separate tours. Revd Newton also visited Alderney Methodist Church, shared lunch with many of its members and was delighted to hear of its story.

“It is such a positive story of healing and rejuvenating a church spiritually and physically as they have had new life breathed into the congregation and a large building project which has included taking the outside of the church back to the original stonework which makes it stand out in its central location in the town,” says Revd Newton.

In the early 2000s, the church had only one member left and it became a class of Les Capelles. In the last 10-12 years, with the careful and prayerful support of several ministers, the congregation has grown to 20 people and Alderney Methodist Church was reinstated as a church in its own right once again.

“The church members were so thankful that they had received the right ministry, at the right time, through the stationing processes, to enable healing, building work and outward facing mission to be achieved. They are continuing to look forward to a bright future,” adds Revd Newton.


On the John Wesley Stone in St Peter Port

Back in Guernsey

On Sunday, Revd Newton attended three different opportunities for worship in Guernsey. This began with “God & Marmalade” – an informal café-style service with breakfast which included the opportunity for conversation – at Forest Methodist Church. About 30 people gathered to share in this time at which Revd Newton engaged with questions from the participants, particularly around the presidential theme of Hidden Treasures

“I was really good! People are used to worshipping in this way and were not at all reluctant to take part in the conversation and offer feedback. It was a great experience,” says Revd Newton.

She then attended the family worship at Les Capelles Methodist Church which focused on the theme of Doubting Thomas. Revd Newton was invited to explain her role as the President of the Methodist Conference and offer a few words about the presidential theme.

The final worship for the day was the Circuit Service at Les Camps Methodist Church which was attended by people from across the island. The worship was led by the music group and worship leaders from Les Camps and Revd Newton preached on the theme of Hidden Treasure and in particular on the parables of treasure in Matthew 13.


Revd Gill Newton with Don, Worship Leader at Les Capelles, Revd Tim Barker, Dean of Guernsey, Revd Howard Stringer, Circuit Superintendent, Clare, Senior Circuit Steward, Revd David Stretton, Presbyter in Alderney, and Maggie, Circuit Administrator.