Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Methodism is Moving!
Methodism is a Movement! Methodism is moving! That was the exciting message brought to Caversham Heights Methodist Church by this year’s President of the Methodist Church of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Revd Stephen Poxon, when the Methodists from all over Greater Reading and North Hampshire met for worship there on Sunday 15th March.
He had the packed congregation on the edge of their seats as he told of a Circuit (group of Methodist churches) that had no churches, having sold all its churches to free them from the financial burden of upkeep so that they could serve Christ better within their community. Elsewhere, a group of the members in a large church in the West Midlands had bought a dilapidated secondary school from the Council and refurbished it for outreach purposes, to such an effect that the Council now hires it back from them for conferences! He had many similar stories!
The President’s visit to Caversham Heights was to celebrate the centenary of its Methodist church, so his main message was that this was an occasion for looking forward rather than for looking back! He told of his recent visit to preach at the 200th Anniversary of a Methodist chapel in East Anglia where he was humbled to learn that its first preacher had been ‘the Father of Methodist Missions’, the Revd Thomas Coke, who became the first Methodist Bishop (in America).
So, looking towards the next 100 years in Caversham and Reading, Stephen Poxon said that the Methodist Movement could not be confined within church walls. But it needs firm foundations, unlike all the buildings he had seen completely destroyed by a tsunami in the Solomon Islands. It also needs flexible walls, to allow for growth, and even more flexible stones (people) so that when people fall down they do not hurt themselves but bounce back again with new life. The collection taken during the service amounted to just over £300 for the Methodist Relief and Development Fund that gives emergency aid to the poorest of the poor in the world, in places like Bangladesh, whose relief work the President had described in his address.