Tuesday, 6 April 2010


I flew to Jersey in true Vice-Presidential style on the Channel Islands District equivalent of Airforce One, as they appeared to have arranged for me to have my own personal aircraft and pilot!

On Saturday morning I joined David and District Chair Revd David Coote for a circuit event at Bethlehem Methodist Church in St Mary. We were welcomed by local minister Revd Christine Legge and we talked about our experiences throughout the last few months, focusing in particular on the importance of discipleship for both lay and ordained people.

After the morning event we shared lunch with members of the Circuit leadership team. It was a good opportunity to learn about new developments in the circuit, including at Georgetown where a service was to be held on Easter Sunday as part of a ministry they are developing for those who are deaf and use sign language. Rather than it being a service that is primarily for those with good hearing and then including signing, it will primarily be for those who are deaf or hard of hearing and will use far more visual images than normal. A previous service had been well received and it is hoped that this is a ministry that the church can regularly offer.

After the sunrise service on Easter Sunday morning at Sorel Point I shared in worship at St Ouen Methodist Church. Worship leader Joy Owen led the service which also involved many other members of the congregation. St Ouen’s is the oldest Methodist Church on Jersey, celebrating it’s 200th anniversary last year. On this Easter Sunday theirs is a resurrection story worth celebrating. In 1871 they out-grew the original chapel and a temple-like church, that could seat over 800 people, was built next door. It became known as the “Cathedral of the West”. It soon became clear that this large church was too big for their needs and eventually the congregation moved back to the first chapel.

The spiral of decline continued until they had around 6 members attending worship. Closure looked likely. Instead they committed themselves to prayer and opened themselves to change. New people started to come to a welcoming church that felt different from how things used to be. Today membership has more than quadrupled, worship is vibrant and people are taking their spirituality and witness far more seriously. Now they are planning to refurbish part of the building in preparation to employ a lay worker to help further develop their mission.

On Sunday evening a circuit service was held back at Bethlehem Methodist Church in St Mary, at which I preached. Revd Christine Legge led the service and it included an imaginative use of prayer stations and drama.

In August I visited the Methodist Church at Harroldswick on Unst in the Shetlands, the most northerly church in Britain. Today I visited the most southerly when I was welcomed by Andrew Bird, a lay worker, to Samares Methodist Church. There is a picture of their sister church in Harroldswick on their wall.

However Samares is more than just it’s location. It is a growing church in one of the more deprived parts of Jersey, so much so that it has now had to move out of the old church building in to a nearby community centre. 4 or 5 years ago around a dozen people would attend the service on Sunday morning, now over 50 people share in worship. The catalyst was a service that naturally flowed out of a breakfast meeting. It was felt by the congregation that this was something they should do on a regular basis and they evolved a cafĂ©-style worship before that term gained popularity.

Steadily numbers attending have grown, aided as well by new initiatives held during the week. “Coffee Buzz” is held every Friday morning, providing an informal opportunity to come and share fellowship over coffee and cake, and “Baby Buzz” provides a similar opportunity on Mondays for parents and toddlers. A telephone Prayerline has been established, a dedicated phone number which the local community is encouraged to use, and fellowship groups now also meet regularly.

I then went to BBC Jersey for a radio interview. It gave me an opportunity to talk about the exciting developments I’d seen the Methodist Church involved with over the last few days.

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