BIDEFORD METHODIST CIRCUIT - Torrington Methodist Church

TORRIDGE METHODIST CIRCUIT
MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
January 2015 - Issue 41
Welcome to Edition Number 41
Contact e-mail address is [email protected]
This is the Newsletter of the whole Circuit, so please send details of future events, activities or
'anything', you wish to share with the Circuit to Dave Watson by e-mail; phone 01237 451437 or to
6 Greenings Road, Buckland Brewer, Bideford, EX39 5LU. Please send them before the 20th of
each month if possible.
This Circuit Newsletter is free & therefore could you please ‘dish them out’ to as many people as
possible, inside and outside of our buildings – be adventurous. If this means more are needed by
each church, then please let me know. Thanks - Dave Watson
From the Editor
Sorry about the delay for this month’s edition – several things have contributed to this but
hopefully back to normal next month.
Many thanks for the prayers & kind wishes regarding Jacqui after her ‘incident with the Christmas
Tree Wrapping Machine’ – she is improving as is the machine!!
From Rev. P. J. Jackson
I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who helped me with the MHA Christmas card
appeal. With your help we sent 30 cards for adults and 10 cards creatively decorated by my son’s
kindergarten class at Shebbear College.
Pilgrimage to The Holy Land
The proposed pilgrimage to the Holy Land in February has been postponed until November 16 th
2015
The itinerary will remain the same. This is because we were four people short to make up the
numbers needed for the pilgrimage to go ahead, so if anyone would like to join us next November
please do contact Rev Ken Morgan. It is a lovely time of the year to be in Jerusalem and in
Galilee, and there is the opportunity to post your Christmas cards from Bethlehem. Even if you do
not intend joining us on the pilgrimage please continue to pray for peace in Jerusalem and the
Middle East.
Circuit Property Secretary
Does God call people to things other than Ministers and Preachers? Yes he does. We are
currently looking for a Circuit Property Secretary. Is God calling you to use your gifts and talent to
help the Circuit by becoming the Property Secretary? Don’t tell me you don’t have any gifts and
talents because God gives gifts to all of his children. When God calls God equips. Search your
heart to sees what God is calling you to do.
If you would like to offer your services in this way please call Brian Cooke 01271 861188, Elsie
Potter 01271 858534 or Ken Morgan 01805 628014 - God Bless.
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Methodist Women in Britain Plymouth and Exeter District
The Methodist Women in Britain project has now changed on Monday 1st September and will be
the Devon and Somerset Freewheelers, which will last for 2 years.
Devon Freewheelers - “Riding for Life” - Emergency Riders Serving the Community.
The services of the Freewheelers are offered by volunteers who have received advanced training
and undergo regular reviews of their skills. They give up their time to serve the community and
save lives. They do this in the knowledge that they probably will never meet the beneficiary and
that the same person will probably never know of our services nor that we have played any part in
their recovery. There emergency response vehicles are fully kitted and adapted to carry the
Clinimed systems, which are NHS approved for maintaining the cool chain from collection to
delivery and their volunteers have even used their own bikes to transport non-urgent items that
have no control requirements. All of their personnel carry official identity cards which are worn at
all times when on duty.
Torridge Circuit Website
The Circuit Website is available on http://torridgecircuit.co.uk/
If you see any gaps or would like changes to any of the wording please contact Maureen Ellis on
[email protected], Tel: 01409 231309. Or if you have events you would like
advertised across the world! If you have photos that would add colour and interest please send in
jpeg format if possible.
Circuit Safeguarding – Jacqui Watson (Circuit Safeguarding Representative)
Please contact me if your church needs any Safeguarding Training for newly appointed people.
New appointments need to have done their training within 6 months of starting the appointment.
I also have a supply of what were known as CRB forms & the issue number for this batch is 406,
Disclosure & Baring Service, which replaces all others – please contact me if you think you require
a form.
From Peter and Ann Whatton - ‘Petra & Beyond’
We have 5 places still available for this once in a lifetime opportunity to visit these amazing sites.
For anybody concerned about travelling to Jordan, we have been reassured by the Travel Agent
that tourists have been travelling regularly from England over the past year.
Please contact Peter or Ann Whatton for details, either by telephone 01237 421420 or by e-mail
[email protected]
Circuit Dates
Circuit Meeting – Thursday 19th March at Torrington Methodist Church
Circuit Prayer Meeting - Monday 9th February 2015 at Northam Methodist Church
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Local Preachers
Local Preachers Meeting –Thursday 15th January 2015 at 7.30pm at Torrington Methodist Church.
This will be the Local Preachers Covenant Service.
Women’s World Day of Prayer
A Service (prepared by Christian women of the Bahamas) will be held in St Michael’s Parish
Church, Shebbear on Friday 6th March at 2pm.
Marion Andrews writes:- For many years in the Shebbear Methodist Circuit; Shebbear Anglican
Church & Newton St Petrock Baptist Church we have held the WWDP Services on a rota basis.
After the 2015 Service I wish to resign from the Secretary post. I will send off the offertory at the
end of March but will not enclose any order for 2016. If anyone would like to take on this post,
please let me know before the 6th March and I will explain what is involved.
Alwington Methodist Church
Thank you to everyone who supported the last coffee morning in aid of Parkinson’s Disease which
raised £230.00 for the society.
The January Coffee Morning is on Tuesday 6th January at Alwington Methodist Church between
10:30am and 12:00noon and is for Church Funds. There will be the usual stalls
The next ‘Take a Break Meeting’ is on Tuesday 20th January at Alwington Methodist Church
starting at 2.30pm when Brian Warren will be speaking on ‘Farm Community Network’. This will be
followed by tea and biscuits.
The February coffee morning will be held at Alwington Methodist Church on Tuesday 3rd February
at 10.30am to 12.noon. The proceeds are for church funds.
We look forward to seeing you at all these events.
Northam Methodist Church
Thursday Fellowship Meetings at 2.15pm at Northam Methodist Church – cost £1 including a
draw, Tea & Biscuits. Details contact Maggie Smale on 01237 421956.
The Bright Stars Theatre Group
The Annual Pantomime is ‘Aladdin’ in aid of ‘[email protected]’ at Northam Methodist Hall on Friday
23rd & Saturday 24th January and Friday 30th & Saturday 31st January. The performances take
place nightly at 7pm with a Saturday Matinee at 2.30pm. Tickets can be booked on 01237
408226. Tickets cost Adults £5; Senior Citizens £4; Children £3 & a Family Ticket (2 Adults & 2
Children) £15.
Making Waves
This is a Christian Drama Group, who go around to different groups & clubs acting out humorous,
thought provoking sketches. If you would like to book ‘Making Waves’ please contact Maggie
Smale on 01237 421956. A small charge of £10, to cover travelling expenses or new books, is all
we ask.
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Alverdiscott Gardening Club – Next Meeting Monday 26th January at 2.30 pm. Please contact
Cynthia Courtney on 01271 858237for more details. The Meeting Fee is £1, which includes tea
and biscuits.
Alverdiscott Methodist Chapel
There will not be a coffee morning in January
We are experimenting with a new type of service on a Sunday Evening known as EXPLORE. We
begin with tea and biscuits (or coffee if you prefer). We explore some aspect of the Christian
Faith maybe a hymn or a bible reading or what is going on in the world and how we as Christians
should deal with it. Choosing our own hymns and praying together, you will be very welcome if
you would like to come even if it is just to see what is happening. The first Sunday of the month is
led by a Minister or Local preacher and the last Sunday by a member or members of the
Fellowship. (see Circuit Plan for details)
Our Annual Quiz night is on Thursday 29th January 2015 at 6.30 pm for 7pm and is for Chapel
Funds. There will be supper. We do not make a charge but there will be a donation box. Contact
Margaret Reed 01237 471931 to book a team of 6. Space is limited so you need to reserve your
table as quickly as possible.
Torrington Methodist Church
The next ‘Ignite’ Service with be on Sunday 25th January at 7pm at Torrington Methodist Chapel.
The Concert by The Circuit Singers from the Bude & Holsworthy Circuits entitled ‘A Wise Man
Came Travelling’ was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The proceeds of £235 will be donated to ‘Made
Well, Growing Futures’ which is based at West Fishleigh Farm, Hatherleigh. This is a charity
working with disabled people.
Torrington Methodist Church has an official Book of Remembrance where the names of all those
who have died & had their funeral service in the Church can be recorded. If anyone has any
names of people from the past they would like to be added, please add their names to the
temporary book in the Welcome area. They will be transferred to the New Book in the future,
which will hopefully be contained in a special cabinet.
Torrington Methodist Junior Church
Torrington Methodist Junior Church is held every Sunday Morning from 10.30 to 11.30am. We
organize a varied mix of stories, games, craft and most importantly FUN! We welcome any child
Littleham Methodist Church
A Happy New Year to all our Coffee morning friends, we look forward to see you all again on
Wednesday 14th January from 10-30 to 12-00 in the Methodist schoolroom with a lovely warm fire,
good food and our bring and buy stall with lots of interesting things for sale. The money raised will
go to the Hospice, for the wonderful loving care they provide for us when we are in need. Thank
you one and all.
Milton Damerel Methodist Church
The Bible Study Group meets each Monday from 7.30-9pm and we have lively discussions.
Anyone is very welcome to come and join us!
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Pilates is held every Monday morning from 11am to 12noon with tutor, Di Sluggett. She is a
member at Lake Methodist Chapel and is an excellent & qualified teacher. These are gentle
exercises, which helps develop good posture and strengthens the body’s core. This is a growing
group and anyone wishing to join should contact Di on 01409 281637.
Our Baby & Toddler Group meets on Tuesday mornings from 10.30am to 12noon, although we
tend to run over! At present we have 9 children with 3 of them fairly new born babies, plus a
handful of Mums & Grans. This is a friendly group and we welcome other mums/dads or
grandparents with children to join us. It costs £1.50 per family per week and we are supported by
the Bluecoat, Torrington & Holsworthy Children’s Centres. We meet in the Lower Schoolroom
which is cosy and warm and where our good supply of toys are kept. There is ample parking. For
more details, please contact Sheila on 01409 261466.
Christian Friend Magazine – Sheila Daniel
I hope you enjoy your copy of the Christian Friend Magazine. You may like to pass it on to others.
This has been kindly sent as a one off gift to our Circuit. It is Sponsored & given out Free, 4 times
a year. The first editor, Dorothy Cooper, now in her 90’s still resides in Devon. When she stepped
down Dorothy Dobson took on the task of continuing the magazine. It was first started in 1968 as
an outreach to rural areas, particularly Farmers wives. It remains a rural publication now perhaps
with something for everyone.
Let myself or Dorothy know if you would like a copy in the future. Although it is given Free, I know
a small donation would be appreciated if you wish to have a future copy.
Waveline Christian Dance Group
Please contact Sheila on 01805 601140, Maureen on 01409 231309 or Sheila on 01409 261466 if
you are interested in this group. We are also happy to take part in suitable events in the Circuit.
Parkham Methodist Church
Parkham Methodist Ladies Club Meets at 2.30pm monthly on Wednesdays in the Chapel Sunday
School Rooms
Wednesday 7th January – Peter Christie is the Speaker
Wednesday 4th February – Speaker to be arranged
The Green Slot by Jean Wright
During the next few weeks a Covenant Service will be held in Chapels up and down the Circuit.
We shall renew our vows, made perhaps many years ago, to follow Jesus all the days of our life
This means, among other things, we try to follow his teaching. For me this
happened 65 years ago as a very young teenager. This includes some periods
outside of the Church, they were bleak and I returned thankfully! Slowly over
the last 30 or so years, I have been led to believe we are stewards of a
beautiful place called Earth. However, over time, those who care only for
riches and power, not caring how much poverty and distress this caused other,
have come more and more, to worship Mammon, and persuaded others, using media
hype, to do so. The Bible tells us we cannot worship God and Mammon. The latter
can be translated as Wealth or Money. and I for one know there are times when I
fail to differentiate between "I want" and "I need".
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I have therefore taken two prayers from my Christian Green (formerly CEL) monthly Prayer Letter
which I feel express a plea for help in putting things right,
Lord God, our Creator, who has made our planet to sustain myriad forms of life,
give us the courage, wisdom and perseverance to stand up publicly against all
abuse of your earth for wrongful gain, all exploitation for selfish greed and
all casual indifference to the dangers now starkly visible. Make us
responsible guardians of our inheritance and give us wisdom to find ways of
protecting it in the face of what seems humanly speaking, a desperate situation.
We ask this in the name of your Son, who died to redeem your world.
Grant us, Father, a new vision of your world:
A world of justice, where none shall prey on others:
A world of plenty, where poverty shall cease to fester;
A world of brotherhood, where success shall be founded on service, and honour be
given to integrity alone;
A world of peace, where order shall not rest on force, but on the love of all
for the land and oceans which you created.
Buckland Brewer Methodist Church
Buckland Community Shop from 7.30-6pm each day and 8am-1pm on Saturdays in the Old
Chapel Vestry – Come along and see what is happening!! There is now a Foodbank Collection
Point in the Shop.
Buckland Brewer Methodist Church now has a Facebook page – just log into Facebook & type
Buckland Brewer Methodist Church – Come and have a look. The Editor is exploring how to use
this way of communication. Hopefully we can reach out with The Good News of Jesus Christ to
All.
Bible Story Book
Rev David Gregory’s third book of Bible Stories, entitled ‘My Story’ and consists of 19 stories with
100 pages is still available to purchase, costing £5 with the proceeds going to North Devon
Hospice & Exeter Hospice. To date over £1500 has been donated so thanks to all who have
bought books 1 & 2.
Copies of the book are available from Sheila Babb at Torrington on 01805 622949 who will
continue selling them following the recent death of David.
Christians Together in Bideford & District
ENABLING GROUP: 2pm at St Mary's House, Bideford on Wednesday 28th January &
Tuesday 3rd March
CTBD AGM: 7.30 pm at Bideford Baptist Church on Friday 22nd May
FORUM (ordinary meeting): 7.30 Bideford Baptist Church on Wednesday 21st October
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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2015
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity happens every year in January and Churches &
congregations are invited to participate in various ecumenical activities, to encourage each other
as part of the body of Christ and to present to the world a picture of Christian unity and diversity
which does much to enrich society.
This year there will not be a CTBD United Service, but since the WPCU starts and ends on a
Sunday we are asking each Church & congregation to do something in their own services to mark
the start or end [or both] of the Week. It will be good to know that we are actively praying for each
other.
There will still be the usual weekday meetings lasting no more than 30 minutes each. Please
come along to as many as you can. Times and venues are as follows, please ask if you don’t
know where any of these Churches are:
Monday 19th January at 12 noon at The Church of the Sacred Heart
Tuesday 20th January at 12 noon at The Friends Meeting House
Wednesday 21st January at 12 noon at Bideford Methodist Church
Thursday 22nd January at 12 noon at St Mary’s Bideford
Friday 23rd January at 12 noon at Bideford Baptist Church
Saturday 24th January at 11am at Lavington URC with coffee/tea from 10.30am
The Christian Aid Committee will be holding a short meeting after the Saturday service. New
members are welcome. If you are interested in joining the committee - just stay on!
Taw & Torridge DCF (Disabled Christian Fellowship)
This group is for adults with any disability, carers & friends who meet regularly on the 2nd Saturday
in the month at 2.30pm till 5pm with a speaker or activity and tea. A short time is given to Christian
teaching and worship. The Meetings are usually held at St John the Baptist Church, Newport,
Barnstaple. Some outings are arranged and a holiday every other year. New members are always
welcome as are new helpful friends.
For more information contact: Anita Southey on 01409 261763; Bridget Bridgman on 01409
Singing the Faith Organ edition
Following numerous requests from churches to publish a second print run of the organ edition,
Hymns Ancient & Modern have done just that. It’s back in stock priced £150 per set (no discounts
available). You can order it online at Methodist Publishing.
Dave Watson has purchased at Methodist Conference a copy of all the Singing the Faith
songs/hymns on 33 CD’s. It is recorded at Coventry Methodist Central Hall & is just the piano
playing the whole tune of each song/hymn. If any church/organist wants to hear what the
tune/hymn sounds like or the church would like to use it in worship please contact me on 01237
451437 or [email protected]
Goodliving Christian Bookshop
Reminder – Please remember Goodliving Christian Bookshop at 20b Mill Street, Bideford, EX39
2JR. It is open from 9am-4.30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday and from 9am to 4pm
on Saturday. It is closed all day on Wednesday. Contact 01237 422213 or email
[email protected] Available are lots of Christian resources – Bibles; Books; CD’s;
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DVD’s; Gifts; Greeting Cards; Sunday School & Youth Group Material. Bulk orders from churches
are welcomed.
Grants for roofs and gutters
In the Chancellor's (3 December) Autumn Statement, a new, one-off grant scheme for roofs and
gutters of listed places of worship was announced. Fifteen million pounds is available, for grants
of between £10k and £100k. But the timescales for applications are exceptionally short - though if
you are awarded a grant, you will then have reasonable time to complete the work. Fortunately
you don't need to be too far down the road to apply, but anyone wishing to benefit from this will
need to move fast, as applications have to be in by the end of January. There is a dedicated
website and the Church of England has published some guidance.
Make space for Jesus this Christmas
The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference have urged people to make space
in their homes and lives for Jesus this Christmas. In their Christmas message, the Revd Ken
Howcroft and Ms Gill Dascombe ask people to consider what kind of dinner guest Jesus might be.
Make space for Jesus. What would it be like to leave a place for him at the table for the Christmas
meal? To open the door and welcome him in to "our" Christmas, in our homes, our churches and
the world around us (just like Jewish people often leave a cup and open the door to Elijah at a
Passover meal)? Would he rush in and lift our spirits, the life and soul of the party? Or slip in
quietly, warm and gentle, meek and mild, like a kindly uncle?
Or would he come in as a guest and then take over as the host, as he did with the two disciples
walking on the road to Emmaus in the aftermath of his crucifixion and resurrection? For it is not
"our" Christmas, but his. And he tends to come in unexpected ways, and therefore often
unrecognised, the extraordinary appearing in the ordinary, a flicker of light that is often
overlooked.
"Longing for light, we wait in darkness", as the hymn by Bernadette Farrell puts it. A world in which
people are forced to move on from place to place. A world in which people try desperately to get
to safer and better places for themselves and their families in leaking and sinking boats across the
Mediterranean; or flee as refugees from persecution or oppression in places like Iraq and Syria.
Just like Mary and Joseph who were forced to go and be registered in a distant place. Just like,
later, they had to flee with their child from the power of Herod and go to Egypt.
Some people wait in the darkness of their own lives. Grief, pain and sorrow. Broken relationships,
hopes and prospects. People excluded, marginalised or stigmatised - sometimes because of
mental illness that is beyond their control. Christmas can be a hard time for those who are lonely
or down.
Yet to each of these situations, Christ comes like he did in the birth which we celebrate. Unlooked
for, or searched for, or longed for or prayed for, he comes. Not tearing the skies apart. Not as a
mighty alpha-plus person. Not as an alien being. But as a tiny baby, born into poverty and need,
human, vulnerable and dependent.
God comes to the heart of our human experience in Jesus. The divinity of Christ is clothed with
our humanity so that our humanity can be clothed in his divinity. As Charles Wesley wrote:
"Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel!"
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So make space for Jesus this Christmas. Look for him in the ordinary things, the light in the
darkness that the darkness has never managed to extinguish. Celebrate him there. Respond to
him there. Become like him. Let the light of his love show through the way you treat others.
May our lives and our churches be places of true joy and peace this Christmas time. May the
grace that came into the world that first Christmas fill us and connect us together.
The blessing of God be with us all this Christmas time and throughout the coming year.
Go Ahead for Church Credit Union
Fair returns to savers, fair interest rates on loans and the aspiration to be a flagship credit union
are among the aims of the Churches' Mutual Credit Union Ltd (CMCU) which received formal
authorisation from the regulatory authorities yesterday. This has been a rigorous process
undertaken by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. CMCU
plans to begin to offer its services to those eligible for membership from February 2015.
CMCU has been formed for and with the help of the Church of England, the Methodist Church of
Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church in Wales.
CMCU President, Canon Antony MacRow-Wood, said, "I am delighted at the news of
authorisation. CMCU will help many, even in its first year of operation and, in due course, it should
become a significant financial resource to the church and individuals throughout England, Wales
and Scotland. CMCU will enable a virtuous re-cycling of money within the church community,
through a combined portfolio of savings and loan products."
At first, churches and individuals (notably ordained ministers, licensed lay ministers, elders,
employees and trustees of churches and church charities and the charities themselves) will be
able to become members and benefit from the financial products. It is estimated that at least
60,000 individuals plus churches and church charities will be eligible to join CMCU. This will
enable savings and provide loans to individuals for essential items and to churches for mission
projects and equipment. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme covers deposits up to
£85,000.
CMCU plans to offer a range of loan products which will be a major funding stream for the
dividend that will be paid on savings products such as ISAs, instant access and regular (monthly)
savings accounts. These products will include a competitive car loan scheme.
Once the credit union has built up an established track record it is intended that CMCU will be
open to all church members and extend its denominational base. This would require permission
from the regulators to alter CMCU's common bond (the definition of those eligible for
membership). CMCU aspires to become an example of best practice in the sector and aid the
Church's involvement in a critical area of national life for renewal and transformation.
The Methodist Church seeks to make its voice heard on issues of social concern and justice.
Why does the Methodist Church worry about politics?
The Methodist Church has long associations with political life. Many of the early trade unionists,
including the Tolpuddle Martyrs, were members of the Methodist Church. Still today a group of
MPs meet as the Methodist Parliamentary Fellowship and holds an annual Parliamentary
Methodist Covenant service in the chapel at the palace of Westminster.
The Methodist Church has stated that 'the commitment of individual Christians to work for social
and political change should be recognised as a fully legitimate form of Christian discipleship'. In a
society where self-interest, acquisitiveness and individual happiness are often seen as the over9
riding interests, the Church, and Christians within it, are called to witness meanings, values and
purposes beyond ourselves, whilst recognising our own self-interest and hypocrisy.
People sometimes argue that involvement in political life involves getting our hands dirty, so is
something Christians should avoid. But we believe in a God who is present in everything, even
political institutions; a God who is heard throughout the Bible calling for justice for the widows,
orphans and aliens who were oppressed by the powers of the day; and a God who seeks to
transform relationship with and between people. If politics is about how we choose to live together
and to treat one another, there is surely a place for discerning the activity of God in politics.
How does the Methodist Church engage with politics?
When the Methodist Church as a body engages with political issues, it tries to follow certain
principles:
The Church must be self-critical before it presumes to be critical of others
Church statements must demonstrate a competence which will be taken seriously
When seeking to address a context in which people are victimised and marginalized, the Church
must engage with them and give serious attention to their views
Consideration should be given to the diversity of insight in the Church, and open debate made
possible within the Church
Further guidelines for the Methodist Church can be found in the Methodist Conference Report
'Speaking for the Methodist Church'
The Methodist Church employs a Secretary for Parliamentary and Political Affairs who has
responsibility for helping the Methodist Church to engage with political life through:
Building bridges between the Church and political institutions - eg through organising the annual
ecumenical delegations to the party conferences
Helping the Methodist Church to engage with public policy debates - eg through taking part in
Government consultations over asylum issues
Supporting and resourcing members of Methodist churches to reflect on political issues in the light
of their faith and to take action - eg through resources provided for the European Elections.
You can contact the Secretary for Parliamentary for Political Affairs about issues that concern you
below. Other members of the Connexional Team also engage with political institutions in the
name of the Methodist Church.
How can I get involved with issues that I care about?
There are any number of resources to help you get involved in issues that you care about.
Join the campaign network of one of a number of organisations - eg Christian Aid (www.christianaid.org.uk), the Trade Justice Movement (www.tjm.org.uk), Housing Justice
(www.justhousing.org.uk), Church Action on Poverty (www.church-poverty.org.uk). These will
provide you with material to write to your MP, organise local campaigns or arrange lobbies.
If you have expertise on a particular issue - eg addictions, genetics, employment, asylum - please
send your details to the Secretary for Parliamentary and Political Affairs. The Methodist Church
often needs to call on people with particular expertise when responding on a new policy issue.
Write to your MP. You can find out your MP's name through the Government's website
parliament.uk. Then write to them at the House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA.
Keep your letter fairly short, and ensure that the language is temperate and polite. Avoid writing in
capitals, underlining or quoting from the Bible. Where possible draw on your personal experience
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and refer to how it relates to their constituency. Ask them to raise it with the appropriate
Government minister and to reply to you. When they write back to you, feel free to continue the
correspondence - turn it into a conversation!
Organise a hustings meeting for candidates for the next General Election through your local
churches together group. More information can be found from the Churches Together in Britain
and Ireland website - www.churcheselection.org.uk
Join a Christian grouping within one of the political parties. Christians in Politics is an initiative of
the Christian Socialist Movement, the Conservative Christian Fellowship and the Liberal Democrat
Christian Forum. www.christiansinpolitics.org.uk
Resources
A Methodist Statement on Political Responsibility, adopted by the Methodist Conference of 1995;
in Methodist Church Statements on Social Responsibility 1946-1995, 1995. ISBN 1 873838 06 9
Covenant Service
I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessèd God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.
Methodist Worship Book, page 290. © 1999 Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. Used with
permission.
At the start of the new year Methodists make a distinctive resolution.
The Covenant Service, often celebrated on the first Sunday of the year, is at the heart of
Methodists' devotion and discipleship, and their dedication in working for social justice. In the
service the Church joyfully celebrates God's gracious offer to Israel that "I will be their God and
they shall be my people".
This offer is then extended beyond Israel to all women and men in Jesus Christ, who also
provides the supreme example of what it is to live in such a relationship with God.
That relationship primarily involves the corporate life of the community of God's people (i.e. Israel;
the Body of Christ). It is concerned with individuals within that group.
What God offers is a loving relationship. The Covenant is not a contract in which God and human
beings agree to provide particular goods and services for each other! It is not something that we
have to do to create a relationship with God. God has freely and graciously already made it
possible.
Rather, the Covenant is the means of grace by which we accept the relationship and then seek to
sustain it. It is therefore not so much about getting in to a relationship with God as it is about
staying in it. It is not about acquiring a relationship with God, but living within the loving
relationship that God has already offered us.
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God's gracious offer to us is therefore simultaneously a challenge. If God is committed to us, are
we prepared to accept that as reality and commit ourselves in return to God? Even if we do
choose to accept it, how can we manage to live out our commitment adequately, frail and human
as we are?
The New Testament suggests that as we join the group of those seeking to follow the way of
Jesus, we respond to God's challenge with him and begin to share his relationship with God as
Father. Within the group of disciples, this leads to his Spirit bubbling up in us as individuals,
encouraging and enabling us to live out our side of the relationship (i.e. "writing God's ways on our
hearts" as Jeremiah 31 describes the Covenant).
Origins of the Covenant Service
This idea of Covenant was basic to John Wesley's understanding of Christian discipleship. He
saw the relationship with God in Covenant as being like a marriage between human beings (both
as a community and as individuals) on the one side and God in Christ on the other (cf. Ephesians
5.21-33).
His original Covenant Prayer involved taking Christ as "my Head and Husband, for better, for
worse, for richer, for poorer, for all times and conditions, to love, honour and obey thee before all
others, and this to the death".
Wesley recognised that people needed not just to accept but also to grow in relationship with God.
He therefore emphasised that God's grace and love constantly prompts and seeks to transform
us, and so we should continually seek and pray to grow in holiness and love.
Over a number of years Wesley gradually saw the need for some regular ceremony which would
enable people to open themselves to God more fully. He looked for some means of helping them
to hear God's offer and challenge ever more deeply, and to allow God to prompt and enable them
to respond.
In 1755 Wesley created a form of service adapted from the works of Joseph and Richard Alleine.
These works came from the Puritan tradition of pastoral and spiritual guidance. Wesley therefore
insisted that the Covenant Service be located in a framework of pastoral care, preaching and
guidance.
This framework dealt with the corporate needs of a particular society of Christian disciples, and
within that with the needs of individuals within that group. It therefore linked personal devotion with
corporate worship.
There would be a series of meetings about the Covenant involving sermons, explanations and
exhortations. An invitation would then be issued for "those as will" to come to the Covenant
Service. After a day's "Retreat" for people to prepare themselves in prayer, fasting, reflection and
self- examination there would be the Covenant Service itself. This would be held in the context of
the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Wesley thought that this Sacrament brought into the realm of
experience and made real all that was said in the Covenant. He therefore urged Methodists to pay
it the highest regard, to put it at the centre of their spiritual life and to share in it frequently.
The process did not end with the Covenant Service. People were encouraged to continue to work
out the implications for their lives of the fact that their relationship with God had been renewed in
and through Christ. It was accepted that people might find this difficult to do without help, and
might "backslide". There would therefore be further pastoral guidance offered to both groups and
individuals in the weeks that followed the service.
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