Junior church member Ella Carter, aged 12, writes about the life of Susanna Wesley ...
Susanna was born in 1669. She was the 25th child, of Dr Samuel Annesley and Mary White, meaning that she had 24 siblings! She attended her father’s church until she was 13, then she joined the official Church of England. At the age of 19 she married Samuel Wesley and they had 19 children with 11 surviving beyond infancy.
Mother of Methodism ...
Despite Susanna not writing any books on Methodism, or ever preaching a sermon, she has been called ‘the Mother of Methodism’. Why? Because it was two of her sons who founded Methodism - John and Charles Wesley.
Susanna is rather inspirational because she educated all her children and led a different life, for that period of time. For example, her girls were educated as well as the boys. She taught all of her children the Lord’s Prayer, as soon as they could talk. Her life wasn’t without hardship, she survived two fires at her house - one where John nearly died - and her husband was sent to prison twice. But Susanna continued to look after her children and she always prioritised her faith.
It is believed that it was Susanna who mostly influenced John and Charles Wesley. She led a methodical and devout life, was highly disciplined, organised and charitable, all of which were to become the hallmarks of ‘Methodism’.
Relationship with God ...
Susanna took her relationship with God as seriously as she did her duties as a wife and mother. Early in her life, she vowed that she would never spend more time having fun or in leisure, than she would in prayer and study. Daily, Susanna scheduled two hours for fellowship with God. This was challenging in a house overflowing with children.
She would sit every day on her special chair, with a blanket over her head, praying and reading her Bible. The blanket over her head acted like a tent and was a sign to her children not to disturb her!
Susanna, while highly esteemed, is not without controversy. Some of her parenting techniques could certainly be questioned today. She ran a very tight schedule, times were assigned for sleep, education, meals and bedtime. The children were given nothing that they cried for and had to speak ‘handsomely’. She would smack the children if they disobeyed her, although she did allow the children to confess their sins and if they promised to make amendments they would not be punished.
Susanna Wesley is still admired today, and thought of as inspirational! This year marks the 350th Anniversary of Susanna’s birth. So we’re celebrating her life!
In November last year five of our young people joined over a thousand others from all over Britain for the Methodist church young weekend at Pontins holiday camp in Southport. The theme this year was Be Courageous.
We took part in discussions/ workshops, drumming worship and bible study, rode bikes and climbed walls outside, laughed at the comedian and enjoyed the different types of worship. We voted for the Youth President and created the Manifesto for 2019, which will be available soon on the
Methodist Church website.
Ellie, one of our young people, made this comment about the weekend, “I really enjoyed 3Gen. It was a chance to make new friends and experience new things. I took a lot away from the workshops we did there. About how the world is changing and what some people have done to change rules in our world and how they have changed how we do things. Also about how different people may feel in different ways. Like how people may pray in different ways and give thanks to God. I enjoyed sharing a chalet with my amazing friend Sam, especially when we were going to bed in the evenings because we had so many laughs and jokes. I think if I could take one thing away from 3Gen, it would be, always move forwards, don’t go back because one small thing could make a huge change in the world we live in today”.
A great weekend!
As I write, the teenagers from our church are sharing in “Life Together – An Experiment in Christian Community Living”.
During a normal school week, church becomes our home as we explore what it means to be followers of Jesus Christ in the context of normal life. We share meals, find time to do our homework and attend our normal weekly activities. Each day begins and ends with prayers. We begin the day committing it to God and asking for God’s guidance and at the end of the day reflect on the day that has past.
Our Life Together is based on the experience and writings of the theologian and anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who led an illegal seminary in Finkelwalde (now Stettin), Poland before the outbreak of the second world war. Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together was based on his experiences. The students of this first Life Together community were amongst those who led the Confessing Church so called because they confessed Jesus as Lord (and not Hitler). Bonhoeffer wrote that community was not a “given”, it’s a gift of God and something that has to be celebrated and which needs to be nurtured. Christian community is not one of isolation but of engagement. “It is only by fully living in the world that [people] find faith”. The intention of our Life Together is to model community which celebrates God’s gifts whilst living in midst of the world.
The churches in our town are joining with others to seek to make Frodsham a loneliness aware community in which we seek to make connections across our community, not just because those who are lonely need us, but because we need them.
Let’s continue to build up our common life and in so doing reflect and share the love of God in Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace.
Andrew M. Emison
It’s almost time for the winter festival which I call “Winterval”. Winterval is a highly religious festival
with all the trimmings that celebrates excessive consumption.
Winterval features lot of wonderful traditions such as goodwill to all. It is a time for communities to come together for a short time lasting roughly between the 1st and 25th December. On this date, Winterval gives way to a season of recuperation and leftovers. Its chief characters are snowmen, reindeer, donkeys and a pleasant, white-bearded gentleman of a friendly disposition. All these things are good and have their place. My family and I will enjoy Winterval as usual.
However, I hope we’ll also find time to celebrate Christmas. Its chief characters are a tradesman, an unmarried pregnant teenager and her baby. Christians believe that this baby, who was born into scandal, mess and foreign occupation, has actually come to inspire and empower us to a brand new way of being together as a community. In this baby, God comes to be with us in every event of life and season of the soul.
In these last two years since I joined the ministry of Frodsham Methodist Church it has been my privilege to come alongside our annual “Time to Remember” service. This time of worship is particularly for those who wish to remember people who they love but have lost. We will light candles and decorate our Christmas tree with memories of those who have died. Some say that this does not sound very “Christmassy”. I am not so sure. I agree that it doesn’t sound like “Winterval”, but it does, I believe, say something about what Christmas is about. Christmas is about truth and reality.
It’s about God making God’s own self known to us and alongside us. I want to suggest that it’s Christmas and not Winterval that the world really needs. Jesus came to share in the reality of life not
some cosy and temporary pretence. If all that is true as I believe, then it’s something that’s really worth celebrating! I invite you to celebrate with us and wish you all a very happy Christmas.
Grace and peace.
Andrew M. Emison
Over the summer ( what a summer it’s been!), the young people (teenagers) have been involved in a youth weekend in Chester. The theme was serving others and started with a youth service on the Friday evening, followed by activities on the Saturday where groups of young people had various tasks to do in Chester. These ranged from handing out water and cake, to painting a fence and providing sports activities - all free of charge with the idea that we can bless others. We gathered together for another service to finish the weekend on the Saturday. The youth leaders from the surrounding villages are beginning to plan events to bring the young people from our various churches together. We joined together at the end of July for a fun evening in glorious sunshine. The campfire marshmallows went down a treat!
At our own church we have held a KS2 sleepover and the children and adults enjoyed discovering the caves (some for the first time) and thanks to Ric who showed us campfire skills and marshmallows were eaten over the fire. (The fire pit has been well used) All these activities bring people together and gives them an opportunity to learn new things about themselves; social skills to interact with others, and space to learn more about our Christian faith through practical activities, talks and prayer. We live in such an amazing area and the woods and hills around Frodsham were enjoyed by the people who came to our social at the end of July. Finishing with a barbecue at church. There are other activities planned for the coming months - so check our church website and tots at Frodsham Methodist Facebook page.
We send our blessings and good wishes to the five children who left Toddlers to start school this September. I hope they settle in quickly. Others from our church family are starting High School – may they enjoy the new opportunities available to them and know they are in our thoughts and prayers. We welcome new families in September as the Messy Mice group and toddlers continue to run. A large group of families and young people are going together to Greenbelt again this year, some for the first time. A time to listen to speakers, new bands, poets and watch performances; joining 5000 plus for a Sunday Morning service. Last year we had no rain, not sure it that will be the same this year. Happy camping!
As the months unfold may we strive to serve each other, support each other and together discover all that God has in store for us. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”. Micah 6:8
Young Families Worker
Many of you will be part of organisations outside of the church and will know that it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract new members to anything, be it a bowling club or a gardening club. People are wary of any sort of commitment. We see it in personal relationships. I’m puzzled when friends say: “we don’t want to get married; it might change things”.
The same is true in the church. People are wary of church membership and the reason I hear most often is not an issue with faith, but a fear that membership makes them eligible for committees! This is not what church membership is about, but in any case, the question our young people challenged us with a few weeks ago was: “Do we come to church to serve or to be served?”
We’re fortunate that we have a God who sees things differently. The bible uses the concept of “covenant” to describe God’s relationship with people. Covenants are agreements but ones which differ from contracts with which we are perhaps more familiar. Contracts are closed, well-defined and based in law. The covenant God makes with us is relational, open-ended and based in God’s unmerited love which we call “grace”. The story of God witnessed to by Scripture is the story of human beings letting God down and yet God refuses to walk away and tries again. Far different from church where one bad experience can lead people to say “I am never going back there again”. We’re flawed people and when things have gone wrong in the past, we’re very sorry.
Church Membership is the way in which Methodists commit themselves to following Jesus Christ in this covenant that God offers us. When we welcome people into membership, we welcome them firstly in the One Church of Jesus Christ, secondly into the church in a particular place and only thirdly into the part of that one church called Methodist. Being received into church
membership is about making the deeply counter-cultural declaration that I am going to commit myself to be part of God’s rescue plan for the world. I am going to be part of this work in this place and I will ask others around me to “watch over me in love” as I seek to do so.
There is nothing I would like more than to discuss Church Membership with any of you. Please get in touch with me or a member of the Leadership Team and we’ll have an informal chat.
Andrew M. Emison
So far, it’s been a busy year and a year where we have seriously considered changes in our church. In a world which is always changing sometimes it's hard to let go of things that are precious to us. God's spirit is a moving spirit and Jesus told his disciples to go and tell people about him and his love for them.
In my work I often search the internet for inspiration and ideas. There is so much we can learn and use in our church journey. May God grant us patience, co-operation, excitement and a passion for him as we go forward. Something that has been running for a long time is our Toddler Group, and June has been declared as the national month of prayer for Christian Toddler Groups. Its theme is “Welcome one, welcome all.” (Luke 19 v1-10).
Over the years many families from Frodsham and beyond have found a home in our group and it seems that each month I welcome new people to the group. Please include our Group in your prayers in June. Looking after young children isn’t easy - I’m sure the carers of little people would appreciate a prayer for patience, energy, fun and a little peace!
Young Families Worker
“It is not good that the man should be alone” says God as he surveys Adam alone in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:18). The first two chapters of Genesis offer us a description of the world as God intended before everything went wrong as described in Genesis 3 onwards.
From the outset, God affirms that human beings are social by design. In the seventeenth century, the Anglican cleric and metaphysical poet John Donne would write: “No man is an island”. Let’s choose not to focus on the gender questions properly raised by these quotations and simply notice that these insights from scripture and the life of faith in Jesus Christ are completely at odds with a world which preaches that individual prosperity and self-determination are definitions of success. The bible insists in all sorts of different ways that we are created and designed for each other.(Incidentally, I am completely at ease with the fact that evolutionary theory would agree). We are incurably social.
Writing in the late 1950s, the American economist J K Galbraith once remarked that it is ridiculous to retain personal wealth to be able to buy new cars only to drive them on pot-holed roads. Surely this is not a matter of political ideology but rather the relentless pursuit of sheer folly. In an age of pragmatic “glass half full” politics, we are succeeding in telling each other that the glass itself has become a thimble whist all the time growing our fence panels and conifers between us and our neighbours.
Denying our mutual independence is a denial of our humanity. As neighbours in our town, Christian Aid collectors offer their neighbours the opportunity to connect with people of any faith or none through local partnerships established by what is a highly respected non-governmental organisation.
During Christian Aid week in May, one of our Christian Aid collectors walked up an immaculate driveway with an envelope. The greeting on the door read: “No canvassers. No religion. No cold-callers”. Is that our best message we can give to our neighbours? How about, “I would prefer not to buy or discuss religion or politics at the door, but I wish you and yours well. Grace and peace”?
As a consequence, communities up and down our nation are becoming aware of a growing epidemic of loneliness. Churches Together in Frodsham are looking at how we can partner with community leaders to bring people together. If you have ideas of how we can tackle loneliness in our community, let us know.
Grace and peace.
Andrew M. Emison
In Acts 2: 46-47 we have an insight of how the first followers of Jesus lived – being together, learning, sharing and eating. Following in these footsteps we are beginning to try something new here at church: Tea@5. Come and share in a simple meal, followed by games, craft, prayers and exploring different parts of the Bible. Open to anyone of any age. Donations towards the cost of food. For more details or to let us know you are coming ring 07749877823.
One way we help each other is through our children’s toy and clothes Good as New Sale Thursday, which is on April 26th this year. 9.30 -12noon and 7.30-8.30pm. You decide how much you would like to sell items for, label them up and bring the day before or on the morning of the sale. 75% of the sell comes back to you. Look out for more details near the time.
Vice-President Jill Baker visited our District recently and lead a Lay Employees' day about Pilgrimage and the place called Bethel found in the Old Testament. It was interesting to hear that Bethel over the years was a place where people found God’s presence and went to seek wisdom, but eventually became a place of pagan worship. This reminded me that places, people and situations change. Dare I suggest that staying the same isn’t an option? Just as each day dawns and brings new opportunities and challenges, may we ask God to strengthen us, re energise and guide us for what lies ahead. Jill has discovered that spending some time in silence has helped her to stay connected to God, and perhaps this Lent time you may like to try and find 15 minutes of silence in each day. Perhaps reading from the Bible, praying, listening or just resting in God’s presence.
The President’s theme for this year is exploring the rhythm of mission and discipleship, and the booklet, Day by Day, contains prayer to help you explore prayer day by day. This little booklet can be found in church if you want to pick one up. One of the prayers -
Creator God, whose Word, at the dawn of time gave light and life; receive my praise. Jesus Christ, companion on the way, listening, healing; forgive my self-centredness. Holy spirit, giver of energy and love; Source of grace and courage; fill me today.
Young Families Worker
One of the features of Jesus’ ministry that I notice over and over again is the way which Jesus seems to welcome all the so-called “wrong” people. The company that Jesus chooses sets fingers-wagging and tut-tutting.
As a church which seeks to be shaped by the example of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we aspire to be similarly inclusive. In January our Church Council adopted an Inclusivity statement. It deliberately uses conversational language rather than that of a formal policy statement. It will shortly be displayed around the church building. It reads as follows:
We welcome everyone whether you are single, married, divorced, widowed, gay,
confused, rich or poor. We hope that you feel able to belong, whatever your
gender, sexuality, mental health, physical health, ability, race or ethnicity.
We welcome children; wailing babies, excited toddlers, even those that wiggle,
giggle, cry or are shy.
We welcome you whether you can sing like Pavarotti or prefer to just growl
quietly to yourself.
You’re welcome here if you’re just browsing, just woken up, or have just left
prison. We don’t care if you are more Christian than the Archbishop of
Canterbury or haven’t been to church since Christmas ten years ago.
We welcome YOU, whoever you may be.
It’s our hope that together we will experience the width, length, height and
depth of God’s love for us in Jesus and understand our sacred worth.
Unfortunately we don’t have any perfect people here. We all have hang-ups and
we get things wrong. We’re not yet who God is calling us to be either as
individuals or as a church. Please help us to understand each other’s needs
better so that all of our colours can shine as God intended.
We believe that through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can learn to follow
Jesus Christ together.
This is our dream.
We need each other.
We need YOU!
Our inclusivity statement is aspirational. We recognise that we are not yet where we need to be. We don’t yet provide the best welcome that we could to wheelchair users for example. It also seeks to reflect our brokenness. At Frodsham Methodist Church we have different opinions on some of the issues raised. Part of being an inclusive church is that we belong together despite the fact that we hold different views sincerely. I believe that this is normal within the church of Jesus Christ. Living with difference can be costly. A Jesus-shaped church is one which like Jesus, bears pain so that God and people can be held together.
Grace and peace.
Andrew M. Emison
Blog posts written by the Minister and Members of Frodsham Methodist Church.