New this month
The Evolution of Sunday School Music - this will bring back some memories for many people.
At the June 2021 annual decision-making conference, The Methodist Church has become the largest religious denomination in Britain to permit same-sex marriages following a vote passed by 254 in favour and 46 against. Freedom of conscience clauses means ministers will not be forced to conduct such weddings if they oppose the move. Similarly, churches must individually vote whether they wish to become licensed for same-sex marriages. The changes mean the Methodist Church now holds two parallel definitions of marriage - one position says "marriage can only be between a man and a woman" and the other that "marriage can be between any two people".
Letter from the President of the Methodist Conference
Take a look at the Methodist Church South West Newsletter for July and August. Link
Question - Are you tired?
Written by Dave Clarke, Director of Swindon Youth for Christ.
Are you tired? Tired of “things”? Tired of what people are calling the new normal?
As I write this, I sit in the car waiting for my son to come out of school, other parents are beginning to arrive, and 2 boys practise their skills with a ball in the football cage. Rewind 2 years ago and you could be forgiven for thinking that the pandemic would be a fictitious nightmare that was never going to happen; and yet now that we are coming out the other side there is a blindingly, startling difference.
This morning as I sat with another centre director for Youth for Christ over ZOOM, he unravelled his dissatisfaction at church, the institution and how we as a group of people “do life”. Interestingly I too had been reflecting on “church” as I drove into the office that morning and how over the past 18 months, the Christian world has stated that “we can never go back to what we were doing before the pandemic….” and yet I see the vast majority of churches returning to the programmes they once had before Jan 2020. Now, these programmes in themselves weren’t bad, however they were for a pre-pandemic world. A world that didn’t know the fear of virus’s; a world when social distancing was only an etiquette issue; and when if you had investments in hand sanitiser you were seen as having an excessive need for cleanliness.
The fact is that our society has moved on, and now it has fears, new social norms, and adopted attitudes that would have seemed out of place 2 years ago. The fact is that we, our churches, and the Christian body are in a time when we need to rethink how we relate to people; and so, a model of church that once existed (if it was working then) is now out of touch once again.
So, what do we do about it?
I often hear people complain about how the Jewish laws in Leviticus are SO outdated and the hundreds of laws that are set out for God’s people simply aren’t able to be kept now a days. i.e., If you find mould in the corner of your house – you quarantine the house and destroy it. Lev14. And yet this was a law that was set out for the people of the time to help keep them well and able to partake in their faith. Now most of us today will have experienced mould in our house at some point or another and the appropriate response is to reach for the bleach – not googling the phone number for a builder to knock our house down and start again; and yet when it comes to faith, why do we return to things that don’t fit a model for the culture?
It’s time to rethink faith. It’s time to rethink church. Let me rephrase it….
Church: let’s rethink how we be church.
In Bible times Paul was the master of reimagining how he reached out to people, and how he put his faith into action. It was his zeal for the gospel that drove him to say (paraphrased) “I try to be everything to everyone, because I want people to know God!” (1 Cor 9); and so if our faith is active, then it means we need to take a look at how both we individually and collectively reach out to people in our society based upon its culture. In one sense, it can be hard, and in another sense it’s easy – if we are willing to listen to societies aches and pains.
For example, our society has gone through so much trauma in the past 18 months; and so, imagine a church that yes helps those who have faith, but also simply opens a café space for people to come and rant, grieve, and lament over their losses for the entirety of the church service.
Imagine a church that instead of putting its energy into a service, instead gathers people around tables for families to be together.
Imagine a church that places as much emphasis on standing alongside single parents, as it does on its musical worship.
Now that is a church that I’m sure all people could not only be a part of, but be proud to belong to.
Today let’s pray for:
- Our church leaders as they think about what “church” looks like coming out of the pandemic.
- Ourselves that we would have our attentions turned to the aches within our society
- For the young people as they continue to try and navigate who they are in a world society that is struggling with identity.
- For our communities that they see Christ in people as something to be valued.
- For families who are really struggling to function right now. May they find what they need amongst their turmoil.
We are getting the building (church sanctuary and our hall) ready to re-open, taking the opportunity for some cleaning and repairs.
A message from Tim Livesey, CEO, Embrace the Middle East
A prayer for peace in Israel and Palestine -click here
We raised money during lent to twin taps and our bins. Here is the certificate confirming that 10 of the church taps have been twinned with taps in Guatemala.
A blessing given by Andrew on his last service
We have collected money to give Andrew a gift to remember us by. Andrew has always wanted a manuscript of the Lindisfarne Gospels. After just a few weeks lead time the manuscript has safely arrived and Andrew is delighted with it. Andrew stated 'I was born about 60 miles from Lindisfarne, and am due to visit the Holy Island later on in my Sabbatical, so this truly is a fabulous gift of great significance for me, with which I have fond memories of the people called Methodist in Stratton.'
As a point of interest, the original manuscripts are in the British Library
Our new Minister from September 2021
The Rev Stephen Roe (Deacon) and his wife Angela are coming from North Wales to join us from September, to continue his ministry at Stratton and at the Dorcan Church
We look forward to what Stephen will bring to share with us as he proclaims the gospel, and together we explore new opportunities to build God’s house here in Stratton and more widely in the East Swindon community.
A moment of quiet
Ripon Lowerdales Methodist Church uses Helen's poem to produce this excellent video. Check out their other prayer space videos