The Buzz brings all members of the Methodist Church in Britain together by sharing good news from across the Connexion. Your stories tell of the many different ways that the Church is working out the four aspects of Our Calling: Worship, Learning and Caring, Service and Evangelism.
What is God doing for you and in your area? Get in touch to share your stories.
Image: High House Chapel, Ireshopeburn, Upper Weardale. Photograph: Sarah Caldecott
After a survey on one of the world’s oldest Methodist chapels revealed thousands of pounds worth of structural repairs were needed, it became clear that High House Chapel in Upper Weardale was at risk of closure. This was a huge blow to the community in Ireshopeburn who decided to do all they could to keep the 18th-century building open. High House Chapel is also home to the Weardale museum.
The fund-raising initiative, Friends of High House, was launched and the West Durham Methodist Circuit became managing trustees exploring all possible options to enable Weardale Museum to acquire the building. “I am confident that we can find a way of continuing a Methodist presence and witness within the community,” said the superintendent minister of the circuit, Revd Christopher Humble.
It is hoped the building will become a centre to promote both Weardale and Methodist Heritage and also host concerts and other public events.
Friends of High House chair, Rachel Swaffield, said: “I think this is probably the best possible outcome given the inevitable difficulties of maintaining an historic building when it begins to deteriorate. The museum would be worthy custodians for the future as they have an interest in preserving its history in the dale and in Methodism, being able to place it in the context of the wider history of the area while celebrating the chapel’s unique story. We will be excited to work with both the local circuit and the museum trustees in raising the necessary funds to secure the building for future use as a community asset and as a place of worship.”
LEARNING AND CARING
Exploring Faith in Youth
Image: Participants at an interfaith encounter organised by The Feast.
The Feast is an interfaith initiative which brings teenagers together to explore faith and to build confidence and friendships. Facilitators work hard to create intimate and safe spaces and the topics they discuss are ones that young people are concerned about. The Feast allows young people to develop listening and sharing skills which they can use in their everyday lives.
Chauncey came to The Feast through a Methodist partner in Birmingham but initially had doubts about the programme. His first experience was a baking challenge, where he quickly forgot his reservations and joined in with the group discussion. After the young people had baked cookies and gulab jaman, an Asian dessert, they took them out onto the streets to share with the neighbours.
Afterwards, the young people looked at the similarities and differences between what they had baked and were then asked to talk about the similarities and differences between their faiths. Chauncey sat with two Muslim boys and as they talked about their faith, they discovered that both Muslims and Christians believe in Jesus although in different ways.
This encounter had a great impact on Chauncey; he grew in confidence, made friends and took part in more activities throughout the week. Since then, Chauncey has become an ambassador for The Feast. As well as going to all the holiday encounters, he regularly supports the Methodist Church: travelling to different churches and telling people about the initiative. In November 2018, he joined youth workers from The Feast at the national gathering of young Methodists and told his story of how his life had been transformed by his experience.
Central Methodist Church in Preston
Image: Night Church in Preston, open every first Saturday of the month. Photograph: Paul Blackett
Club-goers in Preston are being welcomed into the city’s newest night-time experience: Night Church, which is being run by the Central Methodist Church.
Members of the city centre church have been opening the doors at 9.00pm on the first Saturday of each month to people who are out enjoying Preston’s nightclubs and bars. Clubbers can experience the warm ambience of Night Church and people of all ages have been visiting to sit in the peaceful atmosphere, light a candle, chat, and on occasion, pray in the church.
As well as company and quiet reflection, coffee and biscuits are on offer to those who have dropped in. The later opening has sparked all sorts of conversations with visitors, including faith issues, worship and baptism before they venture back into the city. When the doors close after midnight, members pray and thank God for a new way of sharing their faith and connecting with a community who may be asleep for the usual Sunday service.
Image: People enjoying the Meals Matters scheme at Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex. Photograph: Roy Catling
Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex has recently started a free weekly lunch, available for everyone in the town. Almost 300 meals have been served in the first eight weeks. On average, about 40 people now benefit from the Meals Matters scheme each week with 25 volunteers on hand.
Emmanuel Church, a Methodist and United Reformed Church LEP (Local Ecumenical Partnership) is working with the nearby foodbank and Walton Churches Together. Food and economic poverty along with social isolation have led to an increasing awareness of the need to reach out to the community. Jane Robinson, the local foodbank coordinator had the idea of a free weekly lunch about five years ago and started working with local churches to make it happen. Community funders, local shops and supermarkets are also supporting the venture.
Even though Meals Matters is in its early stages, plans are already being discussed to encourage a one-stop support base and to provide meals for families during school holidays.
The Revd Chris Preece said: “Emmanuel Church is striving to be at the heart of serving its local community. The establishment of Meals Matters weekly lunch is enabling a wider ecumenical network to come together to share God’s love with the whole town which is hugely exciting.”
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