Friday, 2 April 2010


We spent the end of Holy Week and the start of Easter in the Channel Islands and did a bit of island hopping. I started in Guernsey on Maundy Thursday, where I was met by the circuit superintendent Revd David Hart. David and his wife Revd Anita Hart, who is also a minister in the circuit, are due to move to new stations in Bristol later this year and will leave behind a beautiful island that I was to really enjoy exploring and learning about during my short visit.

I shared in a Tenebrae-style Communion Service in the evening at Les Camps Methodist Church. Local minister Revd Paul Chesworth led the service which used readings from Mark’s gospel that took us from Jesus in the temple to Gethsemane. It was a moving service as one by one the many candles were extinguished and ultimately only the Conference candle that I had presented to the church at the beginning of the service was left lit as a sign of our hope in the coming resurrection.

I spent the night with circuit steward and new accredited local preacher Janet De Jersey and her husband Graham. They told me about how Guernsey had changed over the years, how once it had a thriving glasshouse economy with over 200 tomato growers and countless flower growers, and now only 4 tomato growers and a small number of commercial flower growers remain. The island economy is now significantly dependent on the finance industry. They also showed me nearby L’Ancresse Bay, a beautifully quiet bay now, but also the place British troops landed to liberate the island from German occupation in the Second World War.

On Good Friday I preached at a morning service at Les Capelles Methodist Church which was led by Red Stephen Robinson. The church has recently been extensively refurbished and the church and hall behind are extremely well used by the local community.

Other churches in the circuit have also seen significant changes in the last few years. The small church at Les Adams had only a handful of members, and closure looked likely, but after a prayer retreat they decided they would give themselves one final year to see whether by refocusing their mission and ministry they could turn things around. They now regularly attract 30 or more people to a revised style of worship and are far better at engaging with their local community throughout the week that seems to meet their needs.

At Forest United Methodist Church, in the shadow of the island airport, a similar story can be told. Where once 10 would gather for worship week by week, now over 60 often meet to share in “God and marmalade”, a 9 o’clock shared breakfast that has replaced the Sunday morning service. A more traditional service now also takes place in the evening. They quickly realised that whilst the numbers had increased, the pattern was that Mum brought the younger children whilst Dad may take older children to sports events, and so they have started a weekly Monday evening fellowship meeting in the local pub at which the discussion often follows the subject focused on Sunday morning. As a result far more men are engaging with the church than was previously the case.

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