As ministers, every year we dream and plan for the year to come, and try and imagine what the church will look like at the end of the year. Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed that all churches would be shut within three months due to the Covid 19 virus. Not only churches, but
schools and businesses. In fact life is vastly different to how it was even a week ago.
As people try to come to terms with this, there is a collective grief for things that have had to be put on hold and a great fear that we might have time on our hands, too much time. I am finding it really difficult to not have a church to lead and go to while others have had to postpone holidays,
weddings and even funerals.
There are different stages to grief: disbelief, anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance and realising that our world will not be the same again but that new opportunities also exist. Of course there are people who are reacting badly by not self-isolating or hoarding, but there are
also some amazing stories of communities coming together, people noticing those who are alone and reaching out to them and people taking new steps in their own faith to use this change to grow spiritually.
For a church this is also challenging but we need to recognise that even in this God can do great things: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Our role is to sit together at the Lord’s feet, to pray and then to allow the Holy Spirit to show us a new way, a way that might help us show the true heart of Jesus to a world in crisis.
As ministers we commit to continue leading our churches differently and we will do our best to make sure that, when we are allowed back into the building, we will be stronger and more focused on the Lord we serve. Then, it will be a true celebration of God’s amazing love.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” Matthew 28:19
CIRCUIT DIARY AND EVENTS
In line with government advice, all church meetings have been postponed. We will continue to keep everyone informed of further developments.
However, with all our churches being closed and everyone remaining at
home, there are now also many new ways we can stay connected and
continue to minister. Please consider joining or using any of the
following resources that are now available within our Circuit.
Other Useful Resources:
Ø A new resource entitled “The Vine at Home” is freely available for worship at home can be accessed on the Worship Cloud website: theworshipcloud.com.
Ø There is a 10 minute PowerPoint music/reflection put together in Scarborough, with permission to circulate: https://youtu.be/g0pKOz-HhmE
§ At KMC, Rob Cotton is running a daily “Devote Live” devotional time at 12
noon on Facebook and there is a weekly Sunday service at 10am that
can be accessed via the church website www.kmc.org.uk.
§ Rod Hill is sharing morning prayers on the Alderley Edge Methodist
Facebook page around 9:30am each day. There is also a thought for the
day that will be circulated by email and posted to the Facebook page and
on Sundays at 11am there is a weekly service. These can all be accessed
§ Pam Butler is available to talk with anyone on the phone if they feel that
could be helpful and can be reached on tel: 01625-860681.
§ Neal Stanton is posting scripture and reflections on Facebook so do look
him up if you would like to follow these. There is also a Zac’s House
Kingdom Community fellowship at 4pm on Sundays.
§ Scott Manning is posting a weekly sermon at 9am each Sunday on his
YouTube channel and Facebook – please send him an email at
firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like the link sent via email. He has a
morning live Facebook devotion and there is a pastoral prayer group for
all members that meets on Zoom at 12 noon on a Mon, Tues, Thurs and
Fri. ( Meeting id 252 002 0170 Password 047827).
§ On Monday evenings at 6:30pm Scott is hosting a teen Bible Study group.
We had the second one this week which was good fun and a great way for
the teens to stay connected – all teens welcome. (Meeting id 845 745 494
§ There is a mid-week Bible Study on Wednesday mornings at 10:30am
hosted by Scott on Zoom (meeting id 699 487 308 password 035230). This
week the topic was “Hope”. All are welcome.
§ Sue Swires is working on a worship pack to cover Palm Sunday/Holy
Week and Easter Sunday, including images, music recommendations and
crafty bits. This is great for anyone not using technology so please call her
on 01625 583337 or email her at email@example.com if you
would like to receive this material.
Ø Kevin at Chapel in the Fields is doing daily 1 minute ‘postcard’ reflections:
Ø Spring Harvest 2020 will be available via YouTube from 13th to 17th April. Spring Harvest Home is a free online conference programme and the theme is “Unleashed – The Acts Church Today”. You can access it by searching “Spring Harvest” on YouTube.
CIRCUIT NEWS AND THOUGHTS ON COLLABORATIVE
An Introduction from Rev Rod Hill.
“I have long seen Acts Chapter 10 as a pivotal chapter in the story of the developing Early Church. In this chapter we have the story of Peter and Cornelius. In a few short verses the picture is painted of a sail descending containing all sorts of animals and Peter is told to get up and eat .
“Certainly not, Lord!’ says Peter ‘I have never eaten anything ritually unclean or defiled’. But the voice speaks to Peter again ‘Do not consider anything unclean that God has called clean.’ Whilst Peter was pondering the meaning of this vision he was called to go and speak to some gentiles who had come looking for him.
This was an utterly transforming encounter, both for Peter and for the
gentiles who had been sent to find him, but it is also transforming for
the early church. Now the mission turns from just being for the Jews
and becomes a mission for the whole world.
When I met with the stewards of Alderley Edge just a few days
before Christmas I shared something of my life experience with them
and I wanted to do that (very edited highlights only) here. My
working life began as a chemistry teacher in a mission school in
Zambia. I was one of the ‘missionaries’; but it didn’t take me long to
recognise that actually by far the most effective missionaries were
those who lived there all of their lives. They were the ones who spoke the local language, understood the local culture, traditions etc..
I have served as a minister in rural East Yorkshire, in south west London, Sheffield, Liverpool district, and as mission enabler in this Manchester and Stockport District I have returned again and again to that experience. My role as a minister can, at best, be to enable you, the people who speak the local language, understand the local culture and traditions, to be the
Yes, I have my gifts, skills and experience, as does Pam Butler, in her pastoral ministry, and we’re quite complimentary, but each and every one of you has gifts that you can bring to the mission of God.
I am really looking forward to working with you all over the next few years as missionaries together in this community.
I believe that God has a future for Methodism’s ministry in
Alderley Edge but, just as for Peter in the Acts, following that vision from God, it will probably look very different from its past mission.
With prayerful good wishes”
Rev Pam Butler has a new role in pastoral care at Alderley Edge. She says the following about working collaboratively within the Circuit:
“The beauty of working collaboratively is being able to engage in the
field of ministry to which of us feels most called. For me, that is the joy
of engaging pastorally with the members of Alderley Edge Methodist
Church and the community in which they live.”
Bud Foster has also been working in different roles and shares with us how he has taken on the role of treasurer at Snelson:
“I was a Circuit steward around 20 years ago and I have now just finished a
second five year term. During that time, I was able to attend several
different Church Councils. It was interesting to see just how many
volunteers are still holding the same positions. For many, that is good. as
they are the backbone of their church but, for a few, they only continue
because nobody else feels able to take over.
I was aware that Snelson needed a treasurer and, although my membership’s at Knutsford, I volunteered for the job and was accepted! Snelson, I hope, is relieved to have someone to do the job and I think they also feel that the Circuit cares. For me, I just have a warm feeling that I’m helping a very welcoming
THOUGHTS FROM ONE OF OUR CIRCUIT STEWARDS
“Last year I was asked to consider being a Circuit Steward from
September 2020. I knew nothing about this role – only people who
were themselves Circuit Stewards – but after talking to these people
and giving it a lot of prayerful thought, I agreed.
I started by reading the ‘Circuit Stewards Handbook’ which is a very
useful little booklet and I encourage anyone to read it as it includes
information about the structure and constitution of the Methodist Church. It is available online and can be downloaded from: https://www.methodist.org.uk/for-churches/officeholders/circuit-stewards/induction-pack-for-circuit-stewards/
The circuit is a key structure in Methodism and it is to circuits, not churches, that presbyters and deacons are placed – or stationed. This was one of the first tasks I was involved with, seeking a new superintendent for our Circuit.
This informative booklet also said the circuit is ‘the primary unit in which local churches express and experience their interconnexion in the Body of Christ, for purposes of mission, mutual encouragement and help’ (SO 500 (1)).
In February, as many stewards as possible met for a morning to consider a vision of mission and mutual support for our Circuit and you will be hearing more about this.
So that is the start of my journey as a steward. I will let you know how I get on but if you would like to know more, then send our Circuit Administrator a message/question and she can pass it to me.
email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01565 228948.” Ruth Peak
INSIGHTS FROM OUR CIRCUIT WORSHIP TEAM
Nick Edie and James Eaton are both members of the Circuit Worship Team that travel around the Circuit each quarter, leading services and sharing God’s Word with different churches and congregations. They reflect on this role and share a little of their experiences with us…
“Standing up for Jesus and sharing his love with others is something I
strive to do as a member of the Circuit Worship Team. It’s a privilege
to share fellowship and lead worship within the Churches of our
Circuit, giving me the opportunity to meet many people from the
congregations; all I find at different stages along their journeys of
faith and from many different backgrounds. I learn from them as they
share their stories, and I find opportunities to listen to their concerns and give sincere support by holding and remembering them in my prayers and helping in other ways.
I find my work as a farmer very helpful in sharing God’s love
and care. Working everyday with God’s creation I see the beauty of
the world which gives me a wealth of illustrations and stories that I
can share, and people seem to relate and respond to.
I have made many friends around the Circuit within the Worship
team, and find talking together, planning services and sharing ideas
continues to grow my understanding of God and the bible. When
delivering a service, the different talents of individual team members can be used to compliment the worship.
As part of the team I am able to listen and pray for my brothers and sisters as I share God’s great love for all. Always listening to God’s still calm voice to build up God’s kingdom.” James Eaton
“I was delighted to be asked to write about my experience with the
Circuit Worship Team. This is especially relevant now as Peter Freeman
and myself are in training to become local preachers and this is bound
to take some time away from our planning and services with the Circuit
My joining the CWT was not of my planning. I just ‘found myself there’.
God ‘opened the way’, as He did with the Local Preachers’ training,
despite any protestations of my own.
How wonderfully thankful I am as a result. I can’t tell you how long our team have worked together now but it has been a revelation for me. To learn to truly focus on a passage of Scripture and to create a service of worship on a theme prompted by the Holy Spirit is transformative.
I feel that we have all grown as Christians during our time together. It is remarkable how, despite each working on different aspects of the service, our different inspirations from the chosen Scriptures have woven a coherent thread through the service. Thanks be to God.
It has been, and still is for a while, a great privilege to work with Peter and
Dawn, Gill, Jill and James, plus others who have contributed on the way, both in our planning and teamwork, and also enabling worship and making friends in all the different churches in the Circuit.
It is my hope and prayer that others will be inspired to join us and continue
the work that I know is relevant and transformative in our churches,
especially now in this period of transition. My our Circuit continue to be
Christ-centred and Spirit-led in new and relevant ways.” Nick Eadie.
NEWS FROM THE CHURCHES
Mottram St Andrew’s.
Ian Wright gives us the news from Mottram St Andrew’s…
“Having recently celebrated our 125th anniversary, it is hard to believe that there would still be room for special services in the chapel which are new. This was the case however, when on Sunday 2nd February when we hosted a Candlemas Service which many of us had never heard of let alone
experienced. Nonetheless, the wait was worth it, and it proved a very inspiring experience. To enable the candlelight to express itself fully we moved our service time from 9.30am to 4pm which created the right kind of atmosphere for the occasion.
Rev Sue led the service with Will as her assistant as they led us in song, prayer and theatre through the moving story of Jesus’s first introduction to the temple in Jerusalem and the response this drew from two elderly inhabitants in the form of Simeon the ‘Godly man’ as he is described, and Anna the prophetess. Through various character dialogues from Will and Sue, enhanced by the use of a power point presentation and opportunities for responsive interaction, we were taken into the world of that time, sharing in Simeon’s prayer, the Nunc Dimittis or Simeon’s song, during an appropriate part of the service.
The whole event, chronicled in Luke 2 verses 22-38, celebrates Jesus’s introduction to the temple and the recognition he received there from these two elderly people of faith and their accurate insight into, not only who
Jesus actually was, but the role Jesus would play during his lifetime. It is a brief glimpse into the early life of Jesus which we were pleased to be introduced to and rarely hear, but well worth the wait to
explore it as we did.
Since Candlemas we have also shared in an Ash Wednesday
Service, which, though sparsely supported, was a wonderful
fellowship experience and quite moving to see those prayers and
thoughts we had written during the course of the service rise
heavenwards as they were symbolically burned outside the porch
at the end of the service.
Following this, we are starting the
journey through Lent as we contemplate Jesus’s 40 days in the
wilderness. This is represented in the front of the church by a
desert scene which is intended to evolve week by week through
Lent until it emerges as a colourful garden at Easter itself. It’s a
case of ‘Watch this space’, and has already caught the
imagination of us all with the anticipation of watching it evolve as
the weeks go by.”
On Sunday 1 March we had a wonderful lunch together after
church to celebrate Donald Read’s birthday. We enjoyed a
marvellous hot lunch and delicious pudding as well as a good
time of fellowship together. The cake was brilliant and was
much enjoyed with coffee after the meal. Donald has been
an integral part of the Snelson over the years, serving as a
church and property steward and generally making sure
things get done and so it was really special for the church
community to celebrate this birthday with him. Here’s to many more moments to celebrate in the future Donald!
Rev Rod Hill updates us on a new ecumenical scheme being developed at Alderley Edge to assist during those in need during the Corona Virus pandemic …
“An ecumenical scheme, in cooperation with the town council, will shortly be up and running to help those who need to stay at home to get shopping brought to their doors. Details of the project will be announced shortly, but I am grateful that David Drucker and Kelly Windram are planning to help with this scheme on behalf of AEMC. If you want to know more please contact David or Kelly.”
Carol Cotton, the Church and Community Pastoral Worker for Knutsford Methodist Church, shares with us the pastoral work she has been doing at KMC over the past few years …
“When I came into post at KMC, I spent a few months speaking with people and understanding the needs of the Community. The first things that were mentioned were loneliness among our older people and that we had a lot of older carers who didn’t have enough support. A charity contacted
me then called ‘Hampers of Hope’, who wanted to partner with us to develop a local Food Bank. So within the first year we launched our work with the Food Bank, having a number of volunteers from KMC to collect and sort food and others to deliver it.
We launched a furniture store, where people gave us, good quality, second hand furniture which we store in a container at a local farm.
When we found out about people being re-homed for various reasons, we were able to supply furniture for their new flat.
We launched ‘The Friendship Café, which is for people with dementia and their carers to come along to every Friday morning. We have singing, exercise, games, craft, reminiscence work and lots of tea and coffee. It is a place where carers can share with each other or the leaders what they are
experiencing and receive support.
We are in the process of developing a ‘sitting service’ for carers, where 2 volunteers from KMC would sit with a person with dementia to give their carer a short break. We are busy preparing all of our paperwork before this can begin. Hopefully this will launch later this year.
We began Cameo (Come and Meet Each other), which is the 4th Sunday of
each month at 3.30pm. We have a short, relaxed service for about 40
minutes followed by a ‘posh’ afternoon tea.
Our Tuesday lunches are at 12.30pm each week where people can come
and enjoy a home cooked two course lunch for £4, we have around 40
people, a lot of fun and caring for each other happens. On the 2nd and 4th Tuesday we follow this with a Fellowship meeting where we have various speaker’s/craft afternoons/games/trips out etc..
This part of my work is very exciting, as James 2:17-18 in The Message says:
Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup”—where does that get you?
Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department; I’ll handle the works department.” Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.’
Serving our local communities and showing God’s love to people in all sorts of practical ways is a real privilege and I would say a huge part of what God calls us to do.”
Zac’s House Kingdom Community.
Here is an update on what’s been happening at Zac’s House…
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” Romans 8:28
“ZHKC hosted Watoto Children’s Choir on 3rd March 2020. The Choir started their day at Weaverham High School. The students and staff found them inspirational and, as a result, a large group of students then attended the public event at the Northwich Memorial Court in the evening which was a great success of sharing God’s message of love and hope to the people of Northwich. Over 200 attended the event and some of the children shared their personal experiences of how God really changed their life through the ministry of Watoto.
In the same week ZHKC hosted Renew Wellbeing Training at Hope52 where 25 people from across the county came to hear from Rev Ruth Rice about what the Renew movement is all about and to learn how to set up Renew spaces in their churches. A place where it is “okay not to be okay”.
The official opening of Hope52 went way above all our
expectations. We were blessed to have Vicky Royle and her
music for the evening which set the perfect atmosphere for
a truly spirit led evening. The High Sheriff of Cheshire, Mr
Mark Mitchell opened, and as an evangelist celebrated
God’s presence working in Hope52 and the opportunities
Zac’s was able to have because God’s grace and purpose.
We also heard from Rev Rob Cotton and his vision for Zac’s
that started a few years ago in Barons Quay. The Mayor of
Northwich, Mr Kevin Rimmer endorsed our commitment
and purpose for Hope52 and encouraged our continuing
work in Northwich.
Rev Ruth Rice shared about the Renew Wellbeing space (we have the title of fastest Renew space set up out of over 50 across the country)
and how it is for all who needs that quiet shared space. The speeches ended with our own Rev Neal Stanton who spoke of what we have achieved in Jesus’ name so far and some of what is to come.”
COME LET US PRAY TOGETHER!
To help us unite in prayer, here are the Prayer Themes for April:
As a Circuit, we come together to pray, wherever we are, for ourselves, our
town, our nation and our world as we face the threat of the coronavirus.
Protect those who are especially vulnerable and be present with any who feel alone.
M ay Christians here and worldwide this Easter, whatever their circumstances, remember Jesus’s death for each one of us and join in celebrating the hope given by His glorious resurrection. Amen
Some prayer ideas over the next few months:
Ø Pray for all our NHS and medical staff during this time of crisis – for
safety and health at their place of work and for perseverance when
days are dark.
Ø Prayers for all the other essential and often low-paid workers who
work tirelessly to ensure life continues to happen; workers in the
supermarkets, for the postal and delivery services, for council bin collectors and the many others whose contributions could be forgotten.
Ø Pray for those who are directly affected by the virus, who may feel alone, ill and scared. Pray for those who are in hospital, struggling to recover and feel cut off from loved ones. We pray for healing and a sense of God’s real presence with them in their time of need.
Ø Pray for those we know who have lost loved ones and are trying to grieve, often on their own.
Ø Prayers for those who are self-isolating on their own and for those struggling with mental health issues during this time of lockdown.
Ø Prayers for families that are separated. We think of those who are abroad and struggling to return home and pray for their safe return.
Prayer for Home – Written by Rev Leslie Newton.
God of love,
in these strange ‘stay at home’ days
we rejoice in your eternal promise
that you will bring us home
to a place that’s safe and free from fear.
But we know that in these days
too many homes will not feel safe
and will be bearing all too much fear.
So, gracious God, we pray
for our homes
and for homes everywhere….
calmness to anxious hearts
peacefulness to angry minds
kindness within strained relationships
forgiveness for yesterday’s mistakes
patience for today’s shortcomings
hopefulness for tomorrow’s yet-to-be.
And space enough,
within our walls,
to flourish and to grow
in unanticipated ways.
All this we ask,
in the name of Jesus
who blessed us by making
his home amongst us,
full of grace and truth.
This prayer is available on YouTube video on the Methodist website
A SHORT REFLECTION By Rev. Rob Cotton
‘As I write this devotion, I am reflecting upon my recent experience of going with one of our ‘Open the Book’ teams into Egerton School to lead an assembly entitled ‘Big Money Bags’.
The Master who was going away for a holiday, left one servant with five large bags of money, another two and the third only one, dependent upon how hard they had been working.
The presentation was obviously based upon the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14- 30) and using wisely and to the very best of our ability the gifts which God has given to us. In the presentation, when the Master returned from his vacation complete with suitcase, sun-glasses and sombrero (much to the amusement of all the children), he was really pleased with the first two servants who had doubled his investment in them, but annoyed to find that the third lazy servant had only buried the money bag/ talent in the ground! He fired the worthless servant, in a moment reminiscent of Alan Sugar on the Apprentice.
I was then able to assure all of the 200 youngsters present, that God wanted the very best for them, that he loved them and wanted them to realise all of their potential with the God-given talents that they had been given. All in the context of a study week on famous Scientists, Technologists, Engineers and Mathematicians, with all of the young people
dressed as someone famous in lab coats etc!
It is great to see examples around the different churches who are in relationship with each other around our Circuit, of where people have used their gifts to serve Christ either in their own, or even another of our churches. I hope that we can all prayerfully consider how we
can use our gifts and talents to serve Christ in this Circuit, in our local communities and even in the world. Thank you everyone for all of the different ways in which you serve and sacrificially give to God’s work here as we prepare for Easter.
Perhaps the season of Lent is a
good opportunity to reflect upon our walk with the Crucified Saviour.’
Contact us: Rev Rob Cotton Tel: 01565 652251(KMC)
Rev Scott Manning Tel: 01565 228948 Rev Sue Swires Tel: 01625 583337
Rev Rod Hill Tel: 0161 879 8066 Rev Pam Butler Tel: 01625-860681
Rev Neal Stanton Tel: 07781 367729
Circuit e-mail address: email@example.com . Facebook: at Alderley Edge and Knutsford Methodist Circuit