Dear members and friends of the Circuit,
You will have noticed that this letter which I am writing is not included in a Circuit magazine. This is because producing the Circuit Magazine (editing/printing/circulation) is part of the Circuit Administrator’s role and there was no-one in that post when the September magazine needed to be created.
This leads me into recording our thanks to Catherine Clowes, who has served us extremely well for over 3 years as our Circuit Administrator. She has moved with her family to the Nidd Valley Circuit in Yorkshire, where the Rev’d Ben Clowes, her husband, is taking up the Superintendent Minister’s post. Please pray for them as they settle into their new context. We have advertised for a new Circuit Administrator and hope to be interviewing prospective candidates at the beginning of September.
Whilst on the subject of staffing, the Circuit will be entering into the process of ‘stationing’ this Methodist year, as the Rev’d Tim Nicholls and the Rev’d Hee Gon Moon are due to leave the Circuit next summer. A decision has been made to seek only one Minister to come into the Circuit when they leave, which means that adjustments to the pastoral oversight of churches will be necessary. This decision has been made for a number of reasons: (i) there is a shortage of Ministers nationally (so there can be no guarantee of filling any appointment); (ii) financially, we cannot afford to support six Ministers in the long-term; and (iii) there is the need to engage in new work/ways of being church, not simply support existing congregations. With respect to (iii), the aim during the current year is to explore further possibilities for mission in Wythenshawe, seek outside funding to help support this work, and go into stationing in twelve months time with a view to appointing a Pioneer Minister (who may be a Deacon) to lead any new initiative. We are indebted to our Circuit Stewards for all the time, thought and prayer that they have given to stationing over the last year or so and it seems appropriate here to express our gratitude to them. Please pray for our Circuit Invitation Committee as it seeks to find the right Minister to come and join our staff team; and for Tim and Hee Gon as they try to discern where God is calling them to serve in the next phase of their ministries.
Returning to the theme of new ways of being church, you will hopefully have seen the publicity about ‘mission-shaped ministry’ which will be running at Cheadle Hulme Methodist Church throughout this Methodist year. This is an excellent course/resource and if you want a challenge, encouragement and inspiration this may be something for you. It could lead you into experimenting in new ways within or alongside your own local church or it may enthuse you to look into how you could support any new developments in the Wythenshawe part of the Circuit. If you have not signed up but wish to do so, please talk to your Minister and fill out a booking form a.s.a.p.
There will be another District Day of Prayer and Fasting, this time in October (12 noon on Saturday 14th – 12 noon on Sunday 15th). The theme is ‘Our Cup Overflows’. We hope to have various opportunities for prayer over that weekend spread around the Circuit. Please look out for more detail over the coming weeks and try to participate in some way as you are able – prayer at home as an individual is just as important as attending one of the events that will be taking place. (Resources and more information will be available at www.mandsmethodists.org.uk/day-of-prayer.)
Two meetings of the Circuit Theology Book Club will happen over the period of the September-November plan. The first will be on September 25th at Bramhall Methodist Church (7.30pm) when the book will be Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer; and the second is scheduled for November 27th (7.30pm) at Cheadle Hulme Methodist Church when Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic will be the focus. The initiative for this Book Club came out of the Local Preachers and Worship Leaders’ Meeting, but it is open to all who want to stretch their minds a little and share in some ‘God-talk’.
These opportunities related to mission, prayer and learning which I have mentioned above will hopefully be able to complement others which will arise within your own local church. May God help us all, in this new Methodist year, to grow in faith and to share that faith with others.