The Buzz brings all members of the Methodist Church in Britain together by sharing your 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.
Celebration on Dunstable Downs, South Bedfordshire Circuit
Following the success an event in 2017, the South Bedfordshire Methodist Circuit held an outdoor celebration of praise on Dunstable Downs.
The theme was ‘Sent Out’ and more than 300 people from the Methodist churches in Luton, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard and the surrounding areas joined together to sing old and new hymns and watch dramatic re-enactments of Bible stories. The sun shone and the crowds enjoyed making and flying kites, along with a picnic.
A band made up of musicians from around the circuit led the singing. Assisting in the service were the Gospel Choir from Leagrave High Street and the Zimbabwean Fellowship Choir.
The Revd Nina Johnson said: “Our vision being to take worship ‘outside the walls’ of our buildings and into the local communities. As we enjoyed each other’s company, we increased our awareness of God, our creator as we looked over the amazing view from the Downs.”
Journeying with Jonah, Northampton Methodist Circuit
The idea of studying a whole book of the Bible across a calendar month really took off this year as the Northampton Circuit engaged with materials about Jonah.
The circuit tackled the relevant chapters in their sermon each week during Bible Month and enjoyed hearing the different interpretations and perspectives from them.
Sunday preaching, teaching and discussion took place and a chance to unpack further ideas on each chapter with a series of weekly Bible studies. These were hosted across five venues and at three different times in the week. Around 56 people from eight churches attended the studies.
As well as discussion, some participants enjoyed singing about Jonah in a musical, Jonah-Man Jazz, written by church member Michael Hurd. The singers engaged with a lively version of the prophet’s adventures and took it on tour around the circuit.
Circuit Steward Margaret Littlecott said: “Some people who took part initially felt out of their comfort zone, but their commitment and input was really appreciated.”
Did you know there were storm troopers at the feeding of the 5,000 Methodists in the Barton and Brigg Methodist Circuit were surprised to discover this when they hosted an exhibition of models of Bible stories. The models were created by local school children as part of a project organised by Deacon Helen Webster in the villages of Barrow-upon-Humber and Goxhill.
Helen has been a Deacon in the circuit since September 2017. She wanted to explore how churches can have a Christian presence at local community events such as the Barrow Wheelbarrow Weekend and Goxhill Open Gardens Weekend.
Schools were given Bible stories and asked to make models in large cereal or shoe boxes to be displayed over both these weekends in an exhibition entitled ‘Boxes of Hope’. Three schools joined in, and all children involved had great fun exploring the stories and deciding what to include in their designs.
“It was great seeing how the children interpreted the stories, using things from their own experiences as well as their knowledge of the story,” said Helen.
Superintendent Minister the Revd Nichola Jones said: “Chapel congregations were thrilled to see so many children excitedly bringing their parents and grandparents to see the displays when chapels were open all day and it was great the displays provoking much interest and discussion with visitors.”
The Revd Richard Sharples, minister of Victoria Methodist Church, Bristol, led a group of 15 pilgrims on the first ‘Bristol Pilgrimage’.
The idea was born after the Revd Sharples’s daughter returned from a year in Savannah, Georgia. He wanted to pick up the story from the failure of John and Charles Wesley’s time there.
“With the encouragement of George Whitfield, John Wesley came to Bristol in the spring of 1739,” explains Richard. “In his own words, he ‘submitted to be more vile’ in adopting the practice of preaching outdoors. He preached to 1500 people at Hanham Mount, on the east side of Bristol.”
The pilgrims stayed at Parkway Methodist Church, then set out from there on the second day to walk from the New Room to Pill. Their first stop was ‘the Nails’ on Corn Street. Here, the pilgrims reflected on the binding commitment Boaz made to marry Ruth.
“I’ve led a number of pilgrimages in the past, and my concern is always to see pilgrimage in the context of mission,” Richard said. “I always try to place a story from scripture alongside the story of the place through which we are walking, and allow the two to throw light on each other.”
The final seven miles of the pilgrimage lay along Bristol’s waterfront, out under the suspension bridge and along the Avon Gorge to the small village of Pill. “It was from there that first Francis Ashbury, and later Thomas Coke, set sail to make Methodism into a world Church,” Richard said, “and in ships not much bigger, I guess, that John Cabot’s Matthew – a replica of which fired a salute to the memory of those early Methodists (and to today’s pilgrims) as it sailed past.”
“What impressed me was the sense of fellowship amongst the group, especially around the meal table in the evening,” commented one of the pilgrims, Hazel, from Wrexham.
280 years ago, John Wesley wrote about his heart being strangely warmed. This additional Buzz story focuses on the “the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ”.
Concerts are good for your health, Wesley Methodist Church, Leigh-on-Sea
A church has shown that attending concerts can increase happiness.
Wesley Methodist Church hosted a series of concerts featuring a group of talented singers, the Allegro choir.
The repertoire included music for everybody’s tastes, including works by Handel, Loewe and Lerner. They sang songs from West Side Story and then a range of traditional Irish melodies, songs by Sondheim, and songs from Chess. The concert finished with ‘Goodnight, Sweetheart’. At the end of a memorable evening, the soloists, choir and audience went home with song in their hearts.
The Allegro Choir organises concerts to raise money for charities. In this case, the donation went to the church’s work with older people. Regular activities include monthly free movie mornings, seasonal entertainment (eg summer afternoon teas), Memory Worship and worship and activities for people with dementia and their carers.
Church member Anna Wratislaw said: “One couldn’t help thinking, why go to the West End or Broadway with such talent locally and helping good causes?”