Bishop Auckland Methodist Church

Senior Steward’s Report to Church General Meeting

April 11th 2021

There is a famous song which begins, ‘What a difference a day makes…’, well never mind a day, what about the past year. Our lives have been changed completely since that Sunday in March 2020 when I closed the Sunday Morning Worship by asking you all to sing ‘Praise God from whom all blessings flow’. Like myself, how many of you would have thought that this pandemic would last a year, at least. When we closed down last March we all thought that we would be returning to a normal way of life around about September time. However, the September reopening time has dragged on and on, and now we are in April 2021 and only just now starting to return to a hopefully, more normal way of life.

During all this time the Stewards, Pastoral Visitors and Rev John have been trying to keep in touch with you on the phone, newsletters and through the website. We have been learning new ways of life, for example we now all know what it is to have ‘Zoom and Teams’ meetings. We have learnt new ways of going about our daily lives, sanitising, wearing face masks, social distancing and enduring ‘lock downs’, and most importantly, learning how to ‘stay safe’.

As Stewards we have been trying in this intervening period of try to sort out how we could carry on in the future, how to make our church safe and be ‘Covid free’. What would be the best ways to encourage you to return to a safe Church, even though it meant as Methodists we could not do what Methodists delight in doing, and that is singing.

To plan on going forward the Stewards and the Property & Finance Committee joined forces and created a working group called ‘The Way Forward’ where we have met and planned everything which has happened at Church over the past few months, and doing it all with your best interests and staying healthy as our core theme. We held a special Church Council last July where we were given the authority of the Church Council to act and progress matters as we thought fit without having to request a Church Council meeting to ratify all our suggestions, and for that we were grateful. It meant that we could plan ahead and make decisions all for the good of you and the Church. We introduced 4 ‘junior’ stewards to assist the stewards help to get through all their tasks, and they have been a help to us.

Today, I have been in Church with Rev John and we have been re-arranging the seating so that we can now accommodate 62 people for a service of worship whilst still staying socially distant. If Government Guidelines allow us, hopefully in the next few weeks we will be able to make further changes, but always with your best interests at heart.

We hope that in the not too distant future we will be able to return to Church in a manner which we knew and loved prior to this pandemic. We know that God has been with us during this pandemic and for that we are truly grateful, and we pray that one day we shall be able to hear our glorious organ being played again, and to be able to sing together…

‘Tis Jesus the first and the last, whose spirit shall guide us safe home,
We’ll praise him for all that is past, and trust him for all that’s to come’

and thankfully mean every word, and until then, please take care and stay safe.

Ralph, Senior Steward.

Minister’s Report to Church General Meeting

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

Great 50 Days

Easter Sunday marks the beginning of the period traditionally called the great 50 days. On the first day we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, on the 50th day we remember the day of Pentecost, sometimes called the birthday of the church. It is a time of hope and celebration.

We hope that you have now received copies of Mark The Great 50 Days and that these have been distributed ready for use from Sunday.  There are further ways to share this resource and to join in the conversation:

·         You can receive the reflection for each day by email each morning.  If you are not already registered to receive The Great 50 Days emails you can register here.

·         You can follow the reflections on Facebook (Search for TheGreat50Days)

The Big Church Sing – Easter Special!

Get ready for The Big Church Sing – Easter Special! 

Raise your voices to your favourite Easter hymns on Easter Sunday – 4 April, live on the Methodist Church’s YouTube channel at 4pm.

Be part of this huge Easter singing festival as we worship together across the nation and globally with acclaimed Christian musicians and other very special guests! All performing to support the work of All We Can for some of the world’s marginalised communities! 

Worship for Maundy Thursday

This morning Rev John conducted a service of Holy Communion in the church, those of you that would like to pause and reflect on this day, can watch the service back below:

Prayer from the Connexion

You can also listen today to our Methodist Vice President Mrs Carolyn Lawrence leading the Connexion in a reading:

Good Friday tomorrow…

Join church members and come and walk the labyrinth to the daffodil cross at the centre as you reflect on Jesus sacrificial death given for you that we remember this day. You are welcome to come down for a short while to reflect between 12 noon and 3pm.

New updated Risk Assessments

Coming into the Church building…

The following are Government, Connexional and local Church rules for attending worship in our building. Please read carefully:

This still stands:

Click here for Government regulations

Click here for Methodist Guidance

Click here for Bishop Auckland Methodist Church updated Risk Assessment (in full)

or click here for a simpler assessment of our Way Forward

Click here for our Welcome Back Statement

Click here for Stewarding Risk Management

Click here for Cleaner/Caretaker Risk Management

Circuit Newsletter Weekly newsletter 27th March 2021

We have a number of churches open on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday

Maundy Thursday

  • 9.30am Bishop Auckland (see website to book)
  • 5.30pm Woodhouse Close Holy Communion
  • 7.00pm Shildon Holy Communion

Good Friday

  • 12 noon – 3pm Bishop Auckland Labyrinth
  • 2.00pm Heighington
  • 3.00pm Woodhouse Close

Easter Celebration CD 2021

Available to download

Rev David has a few available if you would like one for someone who is not online.

News from Bishop Auckland Passion Play organisers:

1. The Market Place 

The three crucifixion crosses from the Passion Play will be placed in the Market Place at Bishop Auckland. These will be in place from 10am until 4pm. This is to symbolise the Crucifixion scene and be a place for people to reflect on Good Friday. 

During this time, there is also going to be a live art installation of the crucifixion and Easter from 11am to 2pm by St Anne’s & St Andrew’s youth worker, Graham Cleland, who will be painting a backdrop to the crosses.

2. Online videos

Volunteers from Passion Play Bishop Auckland have developed short videos about Good Friday and Easter. These are on our new website: Passion Play Bishop Auckland – The Passion Journey & Easter Story ( These will be released on Good Friday morning. 

In addition, Wintershall are also live streaming the 2019 Good Friday performance on their Facebook page at 12pm and 3pm.

Due to the pandemic, we have been unable to perform the Passion Play in 2021, but we are planning, depending on government guidance, to perform on Good Friday, 15 April 2022.

Regular events and links

SundaysVisit YouTube to see a recorded service from Bishop Auckland Methodist Church. Or visit the website for lots of other opportunities for worship  
Sundays 11amBishop FM 105.9 will have a recorded service from Bishop Auckland Methodist Church  
Sunday 6pmWorship takes place on Zoom, please get in touch for the link  
Monday 12.45 pm    The President and Vice President of Conference are hosting a series of events on Facebook Live.  
Tuesdays 12.45pm      During this Year of Prayer there is an opportunity to join with others across the Methodist Family in a weekly prayer session, on Zoom and Facebook   Next Tuesday’s service will be led by Revd Sean Adair, Superintendent of the Derbyshire North East Circuit, minister of Chesterfield Central Methodist Church, and Deputy Chair of the Sheffield District.   

Holy Week

You are invited to attend the church this week at the times above.
We have increased capacity to accommodate 72 people in the building, while still safe and socially distanced.
To help us please book by phoning a steward, or the manse 603142, or via the website.
All are welcome to come.

  • Mr Edwin Hird is the preacher for Palm Sunday,
  • The Maundy Thursday service will include Holy Communion,
  • Good Friday is a time to pop down to the church garden and prayerfully walk  around the daffodil cross at the centre of the labyrinth.
  • Easter Sunday is a special gathering as we missed out last year, it will also be a celebration of Holy Communion.

The services will be available on the church website and YouTube channel, and the Sunday services on 105.9 Bishop FM radio and on the sermon line 436815.
The annual church meeting will take place in the context of worship at 11am on Sunday 11th April.

Hoping to see you all at some stage over Easter
God bless

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