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The Methodist Church in Britain has launched an appeal to support the emergency work being carried out in Gaza by the Methodist Liaison Office’s partners.

Donate to the Gaza Appeal here 

Donation is through the Methodist Church World Mission Fund, via JustGiving – please add ‘GAZA APPEAL’ at the end of the online form where you can leave a message.
The partners’ work focuses on helping civilians in Gaza with medical, dental and mental health issues and offering them financial support. Speaking about the war in the Gaza Strip, which is 25 miles long and houses 2.3 million people, the President and Vice-President expressed their deep horror at the physical and psychological impact the continued violence is having on families:

February 18th 2024: Today we celebrated Joy Restall’s baptism: the first adult baptism at BMC in 30 years!! This is the celebration bring-and-share lunch we enjoyed afterwards. A truly wonderful spirit-filled service and a super time of fellowship afterwards.

Lent and Easter 2024:Unbounded Love

God’s love doesn’t stay in the lines

Charles Wesley’s famous hymn Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (Singing the Faith 503) talks about Jesus as ‘unbounded love’ – a kind of love that cannot be contained, that works in our lives and in our world to free us and heal us. Unbounded Love is the theme of the Lent campaign of the Methodist Church in 2024 – holding together our commitments to be a justice-seeking church, and a people who experience and proclaim the good news of God’s uncontainable love.
To sign up for daily email deliveries of love in lent, click here.

We recently took retiring collections for this longstanding charity, which works with Christians, tackling poverty and injustice throughout the Middle East, to transform lives.
Helen Cain also organised two prayer vigils at the church, at which collections were also made.
These donations together totalled £193. At our recent Church Council meeting it was agreed that the church would match these cash donations from church funds, bringing the “cash” total to £400.
Along with generous direct payments and Gift Aid, our total donation to Embrace the Middle East is therefore £1125.00
Hopefully the ceasefire in the region will hold and our money can be put to good use straight away.

The Tulpuddle Pilgrims: That’s our minister Rev. Simon in the blue cagoule and waterproof hat!

18 May 2023

The Tolpuddle Pilgrimage: A Methodist Story of Social Justice

On Saturday 6 May, a group of pilgrims arrived at the village of Tolpuddle, Dorset, under a grey sky and drizzle. Their journey had started the previous Monday at John Wesley’s New Room in Bristol. Over the following week, they walked along both busy and quiet roads, under sun and rain, passing through villages including Chew Stoke, Wells, Castle Cary, Sherborne and Hilfield Friary before arriving at Tolpuddle. 

“This pilgrimage began as a piece of youth work trying to engage young adults with the Methodist Church’s history ”, states the Revd Richard Sharples, minister at Victoria Methodist Church in Bristol. And it worked. A few years ago, they had only two young people joining them, there were four this year. “It’s important for the Church to recognise that what matters to young people is not the Methodist Church per se, but the difference the Methodist Church and people are making or can make”, adds Richard Sharples.  

The group of pilgrims was dynamic, some staying a while, some leaving the group for a few days before coming back and some joining on the last day. Some are Methodists, some from other denominations, and some who belong to no denomination, but they all came together to walk and discuss their interest and commitment to social justice. Jack, one of the young pilgrims, says, “It’s been a really good week but challenging at times. In this time of industrial turmoil, I felt it was important to learn about the Tolpuddle labourers and those people who previously stood up for workers’ rights.” 

The journey, as well as the destination, are equally important in this pilgrimage: six labourers from Tolpuddle – four of them being Methodist – created a Friendly society in 1833 requesting fair wages, which resulted in their arrest, trial and transportation to Australia before they were pardoned.  

The Revd Simon Topping, Superintendent Minister and Minister for Bath, Bathampton and Box Methodist Churches, commented, “Learning about that story through a pilgrimage is a great way to reflect together on what happened and on issues to do with social justice, economic justice and inequalities, struggles that we still face today to make the world a more equal and fairer place.” 

Living Christianity in the Holy Land

18th – 30th January 2023

It is hard to distil so rich an experience as my recent 12-day visit to the Holy Land with the Methodist Liaison Office in a short article, but I will do my best.

I arrived on the evening of 18th January, exhausted but eager to see what lay before me. We comprised a diverse group of 12, with our three leaders; John, Angleena, and Samar. I had done little research on what I might expect to experience, having only booked the trip six weeks earlier and with Christmas in-between. How naïve I was; I knew little about the Israeli-Palestinian situation and was ill prepared for what I was to witness.

Our days were full and well planned. We visited holy sites, familiar to us all from our readings of the bible, but what made this trip more enriching than I could ever have hoped for, was the way in which the days were interwoven with voices from the margins. Those voices were the voices of the oppressed and those whose lives are under constant threat, because of who they are, and who they represent.

There were evenings that I would return to our guest house full of sorrow and heartache for the people I had met and the land in which they live. Staying in occupied territory adds poignancy to the context in which Jesus ministered. Each holy site we visited spoke of both the past and the present.

Many of the sites were hard for me to relate to; I’d grown up with images of the green hill far away, the farmyard stable, Jesus’ childhood home of basic stone structure set amid a bustling village; now I was faced with highly decorated churches (built upon those sites), and modern-day cities with Starbucks and McDonald’s.

The highlight for me occurred exactly halfway through the trip. It was the day we headed off to Galilee for our two day stay in Tiberius. On our journey there, we stopped off at Caesarea Philippi, a lush area near to the foot of Mount Hermon. Here I found peace amongst the springs of the river Jordan and the ruins of temples and worship sites. As we read from Mark, the story of Jesus’ identity revealed to his disciples, the gospel came to life. At the modern church of Magdena, so stunning in its setting and design, I found new meaning and connection with the women of the bible.

Our day’s end was perfect. As we sailed into the still, still waters of the Galilee, towards the setting sun and the Jordan hills, time melted away and I could have been there with Jesus, his disciples, and their fishing nets. That evening we were a happy crew, chatting and laughing, and at other times quiet and contemplative, as we soaked up the warmth of the day and were soothed by the gentle lapping of the water. As the sun went down, we broke into song and lifted our eyes to the hills. I was overwhelmed by a sense of joy and peace.

This was a challenging and emotionally demanding 12 days. There were times when I felt that I could take no more of the stories of oppression and cruelty, but through those stories we had witnessed faith that had moved mountains.

This short reflection comes nowhere near to doing justice to this trip. I appreciated the depth of knowledge of our leaders. Each question we threw at them (and we threw many), was answered with thought and sincerity. I have returned challenged and renewed in my understanding of Jesus’ ministry – as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago. I leave the land behind, but I take home with me a faith that is recharged and strengthened. 

Helen Cain

Box Methodist Church, Northeast Somerset and Bath Circuit.

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