Every Easter, the Methodist Church in Britain invites donations to the World Mission Fund through Easter Offering Envelopes. The World Mission Fund supports God's mission in 65 Partner Churches outside Britain and Ireland.
There will be a special dedication service within the Circuit after Easter. Please use one of the envelopes provided in the church foyer to make your gift, and Gift Aid it if you can. The envelopes will be available each week until Easter Sunday. And please continue to support this vital work in your prayers throughout the year.
About the Easter Offering
The tradition of the Easter Offering dates back to 1883 when women in Manchester collected £32 from 'Christmas pennies' at family gatherings on Christmas Day at lunch for Missionary work overseas. In March 1884, the London Districts distributed Easter envelopes and collecting bags asking for a penny a head and just over £100 was collected.
Through gifts great and small, the Easter Offering has become a significant feature of the World Church. In 1986, the Bicentenary year, it totalled nearly £200,000. Throughout the country, effort focuses on the annual envelope collection for the Fund for World Mission through the Easter Offering and the associated service of dedication.
This reflects the long history of commitment to overseas work by the women of Methodism, and the recognition that local specific relationships with oversea projects and World Church in Britain partnerships are given broader meaning by a national focus. The theme and service are different every year.
Young Methodists from across the country have taken the opportunity to share their priorities and passions for their Church, highlighted for the very first time in three new 'manifesto' documents.
Following research undertaken at the Methodist Children's and Youth Assembly, 3 Generate, three manifestos outlining the foci of the different age groups have been published online. This new venture is intended to raise the voices of the young people of the Church and highlight the real and varied concerns close to their hearts.
There are two further district-run workshops to examine the issue of whether the Methodist Church should reconsider its definition of marriage in the light of civil same-sex marriage. How do we use the Bible to help us in this matter?
The first, already publicised, is at North St, Crewe (CW1 4NJ) on Thursday 21 January at 7:00pm and an extra one has been arranged for Saturday 23 January at Wellspring Methodist Church Congleton (CW12 3AP) at 10:00am. Both will last 2 ¼ hours, and consist of input plus small group conversations and feedback. Refreshments are provided.
These workshops are open to anyone in the Methodist Church but booking is required. Please book with The District Office for the evening of 21 January at Crewe: email@example.com or 01270 627774.
Please book with Dane & Trent Circuit office for the morning of 23 January at Congleton: firstname.lastname@example.org 01260 270899.
For further info. contact David Pickles: email@example.com 07799 902565
Churches Together in Cheshire's service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be held at Chester Cathedral on Sunday 24th January 2016 at 4.00pm, the preacher will be Rev'd. The Lord Leslie Griffiths. Leslie Griffiths, a former President of the Methodist Conference and currently the Minister at Wesley's Chapel in London, is a well-known Methodist voice and those from the churches in and around Cheshire may appreciate this opportunity to hear him, as well as to join with others in celebrating our Christian unity.
The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference have reminded people of the importance of 'welcome' in this year's Presidential Christmas message.
The Rev'd. Steven Wild and Dr. Jill Barber highlight the central significance of Emmanuel, 'God-with-us', and how we can encounter God through welcoming others.
Click here to listen to the messages in full, or click 'read more' below for the full text.
Please find below the new strategy for our Church, which we are launching today. This is an exciting document which sets out the new vision and mission statement for our Church, and how we hope to deliver it over the next five years. Please take time to carefully read it and let Mr. John Holmes, Mr. Alan Carter or any of the Leadership Team know if you have any queries or want more information. Please use the sign up sheet in the Church Hall, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would like to:-
The Leadership Team
Below is a Pastoral Letter regarding the current refugee and migrant situation in Europe from The European Methodist Council.
We have met, as the European Methodist Council, in recent days in Bulgaria near the crossing-point with Romania. As Methodist representatives from all over Europe, much of our time has been spent in conversation on migration in light of the reality of hundreds of thousands of desperate people crossing the borders of Europe, fleeing conflict and persecution and seeking the possibility of a future for themselves and their children. We have prayed together and been strengthened in our fellowship in the Methodist family. We have drawn hope and inspiration from stories of Methodists working in many places to assist migrants and refugees. Often these are small groups of our sisters and brothers tirelessly fulfilling our common commitment to Christian hospitality and care. We give thanks to God for their vision, courage and continuing service in the name of Christ. May we all draw inspiration from their example.
In renewing our fellowship, we have recognised our differences and drawn strength from the knowledge that our primary identity comes through our union with Christ which transcends ethnicity and nationality and is always open to receive those who differ or disagree. We have been reminded, through study of the Scriptures,that the people of God have often been on a journey and frequently known what it is to be outsiders and even refugees. We have been challenged to recognise the neighbour rather than fear the stranger. However, the experiences we have shared show our tendency to forget the commandment to love when God unexpectedly gives us new neighbours.
We know that migration raises a complex set of issues that cannot be solved with simplistic solutions. We struggle together as Churches whose members continue to hold a variety of political and theological views. We seek to move beyond a sterile discussion about the rightness of migration to engaging with the many complicated issues involved in the crisis affecting our continent. In all this, we are aware of our own limitations and the need of the help of others.
The following general principles are offered as a basis for further conversation and action as Churches seek to formulate a co-ordinated response from their members. We are called to:
• renew our understanding and practice of the obligation to radical Christian hospitality to all, recognising the practical implications for congregations and individuals
• acknowledge that migration has and always will be a part of the human story
• recognise that we experience and interpret the reality of migration to and within Europe in different ways, depending on our context
• resist false narratives, generalizations and negative stereotyping and challenge those who would play on people’s fears
• reaffirm our Christian commitment to honour Christ in the face of the stranger regardless of religious background or the prevailing political situation
• encourage and support those who dare to open their doors and offer hospitality to those in need
• pledge both our continuing solidarity with those parts of world from which migrants and refugees come and our active engagement to achieve a just and peaceful world.
God calls us to continue our journey together. We believe that God also calls us to welcome those who arrive as our fellow pilgrims. We commit ourselves to immediate actions and the long-term perspectives that the issues raised by migration require. With a united voice, the European Methodist Council calls on our fellow citizens across the continent to join us in reflection and action.
May Christ bless us all, as we seek to faithfully express and reflect his love and mercy in our lives and ministry.
Don Kerr and Christian Alsted
Co-chairs of the European Methodist Council
The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference have invited people to step into the Easter story with their Easter reflection.
"To them and all the world comes the message that Christ is alive. God has raised him up and affirmed that his way of taking up the cross in suffering love is God’s way of creating, redeeming and perfecting the world," said the Revd Kenneth Howcroft and Gill Dascombe. "God still seeks to raise us up to be Christ’s body and live his way through what we say and do, and how we think and pray (and, in a few weeks, how we vote) in the world around us."
The full text of the reflection follows:
On our visits to the different parts of the Methodist Church we see many examples of death and resurrection. There are so many places where God’s Spirit is doing incredible things in us and through us.
We have tried to explore this in two reflections on how people experienced the events of the first Easter. The woman’s is by the Vice-President, Gill Dascombe. The man’s is by the President, the Revd Kenneth Howcroft.
The characters and events of Holy Week take us through a vast range of human experience: from jubilation through conflict, hope, betrayal, anger, power, fear, to grief, pain and loss, bewilderment and desolation where all we can do is wait. In this we are moving along the way that took Jesus through Good Friday to Holy Saturday, and on towards Easter Sunday’s good news of new life.
In our travels, we have begun to realise that true renewal is always shaped by a dynamic of death and resurrection. It is stamped through with the reality of a cross and a tomb. Both begin with a body. Both become empty. They are inextricably linked.
To them and all the world comes the message that Christ is alive. God has raised him up and affirmed that his way of taking up the cross in suffering love is God’s way of creating, redeeming and perfecting the world. God still seeks to raise us up to be Christ’s body and live his way through what we say and do, and how we think and pray (and, in a few weeks, how we vote) in the world around us.
Why did I go to the garden so early? It was still dark! The night-world was a place of shadows and menace and all around was the gloomy silence of death. Unsure of my way, I was stumbling over boulders and getting caught in bushes. Overcome with frustration and despair, I sank down and wept.
I hadn’t been able to sleep, of course. Not that night or the night before. Like all the bereaved, I didn’t want one day to end and the next one to start. Each new day dragging me further from his presence, each day the pain of separation gnawing anew at my insides.
Later he was to tell me not to cling to him, not to hold on, and at the time I thought that it was the most unutterably callous thing I had ever heard. Of course I wanted to cling on! To cling on with all my might. To squeeze out every last drop that was left to memory. It was all I had left.
But it was into such darkness and emptiness that God spoke the first words of creation, bringing light and life. Could it be that on this blackest and most dreadful of all nights the world stood once again on the brink of something new?
The dawn began to break. There was no blinding brilliance, only the usual cold grey mistiness. Enough for me to stumble on to the tomb and look inside and find, to my horror, that it was empty. There was no body. Nothing left to cling to.
And then, a voice spoke once more into the void. A Word. And it was my name. I turned around in astonishment and joy, and held out my arms.
And he said: ‘Don’t cling to me. I haven’t come back as before, I have moved on to new life. And so now must you.’ The sun rose into the sky, gaining strength and filling the garden with warmth and life. I became the first witness to God’s new creation. The universe re-made by love. I haven’t come back, I have moved on, and now, so must you.’
And now, so must we.
Why didn’t I go to the tomb? I couldn’t bear it. I didn’t want to think about what people did to him. Or what God allowed to happen to him. I had given up everything for him. But it had come to nothing. Darkness. Emptiness.
I didn’t want to picture the awful way he was killed. I hadn’t been able to face it when it happened. When the soldiers came, we ran. But most of us also ran away from the horror of it all inside ourselves. Some of us fell asleep when he asked us to stay awake and pray while he prayed. He was praying that God’s will, not his, be done not just in heaven but in what was happening to him here on earth, even if that meant that he would have to drain the cup of suffering. We were meant to be praying alongside him that we would not be brought to our breaking point or led into temptation. Yet some of us went on to deny that we knew him. Some of us thought he had betrayed us and so ended up betraying him.
But something brought us back together. We huddled together, hiding from the awfulness of it all, from the rest of the world, and perhaps even from God.
We huddled together, not facing what had happened, yet somehow hanging on to it. Then something happened among the women. Some of them had not betrayed or denied him. They had not run away, but had been there at his barbaric execution on a cross. They had not merely said that they would follow him. They had actually followed him.
Now they were running in, telling us a jumble of different things. His body had vanished. He wasn’t dead. He had risen from the grave. Or, rather, God had raised him. Someone had told them. Or an angel had told them. Or he had appeared and spoken to them himself. And they were to tell the rest of us that we were to get out of our huddle and get on with his mission, saying and doing what he had taught us to do. If we did, we would find that he was with us.
Can we face it? Can we trust that their message is good news? Can we let go and let God raise us to new life with and in Christ - and, through us, the world?
People are being urged to dedicate a special time of prayer to the ongoing crisis in Iraq and Syria next Sunday.
The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Ken Howcroft and Ms Gill Dascombe, are asking Methodists to ensure that they spend some special time in prayer for persecuted minorities during worship on 31 August.
They have written this special prayer for use by churches and groups (responses in bold):
God of love, guide us as we pray:
God of love, guide us as we pray.
God of all nations and peoples, hear our prayers for the people of Syria and Iraq, and for all whose lives are torn apart by hatred and violence, whose heartbreak is more than we can imagine:
God of compassion, guide us as we pray.
For leaders and politicians and those who seek to negotiate for peace, whose responsibility is more than we could bear:
God of wisdom, guide us as we pray.
For aid workers, medical staff, those who care for refugees, orphaned children and older people, whose daily workload is more than we could tolerate:
God of goodness, guide us as we pray.
For those who feel compelled to accomplish their justice through warfare or terrorism, whose motivation is more than we can comprehend:
God of justice, guide us as we pray.
For ourselves, who look on, devastated and helpless, praying to our God whose peace is beyond our understanding:
God of peace, guide us as we pray.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit:
“The situation in Iraq and Syria can only be described as a living nightmare,” said Mr Howcroft and Ms Dascombe, adding, “as Methodists we stand in solidarity alongside all those who are persecuted. As followers of Jesus who was crucified we stand with all those who find their religion twisted by others out of all recognition in order to justify horrific acts of violence. We stand in prayer, crying out together to a God of justice, peace and mercy. May God have mercy on us all.”
Listen to Rev'd. Dr. Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church, on Methodism and Church decline on Radio 4's Sunday Programme here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04f8k43.
News & Notices...
What's happening at Frodsham Methodist Church and further afield.
News & Notices