Minister’s Report to the General Church Meeting on Sunday, 11th April 2021
We are all learning to live by ‘hands, face, space’ but as Methodists we are also called to live by the four aspects of ‘Our Calling.’ So how have we got on with that in the past year with all its difficulties and closure of church buildings?
We have increased our worship resources over the last year, going from a Sunday and Thursday morning service to resources each day of the week. On Sunday morning we have increased the number of people delivering the message in an increasingly diverse way that allows you to choose what suits you, not just the one preacher delivering everything. We have increased the means by which worship is accessed, no longer just in building, but through the radio airwaves thanks to 105.9 BishopFM, by telephone line, church website, YouTube channel, and in the evening by a 6pm weekly circuit Zoom worship. In all this the numbers have increased and we reach well beyond Cockton Hill Road.
Learning and Caring:
The teaching available through a midweek Bible study in the meeting room has been replaced by daily scripture and thoughts not only on the website, but also a daily pause for thought on the minister’s Facebook page. Online courses this year have included, a Meaningful Ageing course, 4 CAP Money Courses, 7 weeks of Radical Presence, and the introduction of four Methodist Way of Life groups that combine learning with caring fellowship and prayer. Caring has also continued in the excellent work of our pastoral visitors as they have kept contact with people.
A wedding, several christenings and numerous funerals have served not only the church family but the wider community. We have assisted the NHS with space for clinics, and we have week after week been involved in food distribution both through the food bank at Woodhouse Close and in what our neighbours the Baptist congregation do on a Wednesday. We have trained and given work to six young people, and retained the job of our caretaker/cleaner with the help of the government furlough scheme. With partner churches we have taken steps to better serve the environment, picking up an Eco Church bronze award along the way.
We have led in the gathering of churches for car park services, and in the Christian message going out to non-church attenders through radio and social media. We have brought the good news of Jesus to people in their darkest hour, and enabled his hope to be more widely known. We have demonstrated time and time again that the church has not gone away, and is capable of reaching out beyond our traditional walls to everyone near and far, and we look forward to welcoming more people to join us as we re-enter buildings.
All in all we have fulfilled the different aspects of our calling, and know that in living this Methodist way that the best of all is God has been with us. It has been very different from the year we might have planned, but God has been with us through it all, and we give him our thanks and praise.
Rev John Purdy – Minister