Newsletter June 27th 2021

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Dear Friends,

For those steeped in Methodism, you may be aware that at this time of year the annual Methodist Conference meets from the 24thJune to the 1stJuly, this year in the National Conference Centre in Birmingham.

Its origins go back to the early days of John Wesley when Methodist Societies were growing at a fast rate, and it was quickly recognised that there needed to be a way of keeping in touch and organising this dynamic expression of Church.

In 1784 Wesley arranged for there to be a 'Yearly Conference of the People called Methodists'. He nominated 100 people and set out a method of succession. After his death, the leadership of the Methodist Church passed to the Methodist Conference. Each year a President and Vice President are elected to represent the church around the Connexion.

This year the President will be Rev Sonia Hicks. You may recognise the name as Rev Conrad Hicks was minister within our circuit with responsibility for Aldershot and 'The Spire' at Farnham until two years ago.

Sonia has served as a Circuit Superintendent in three connexions: Britain, the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and Americas and the Methodist Church in Ireland (MCI). Her desire to bring a commitment to oppose all forms of injustice began when she was a member of the Youth Exchange to Zimbabwe. She is a delightful person and will represent the church well!

During the Methodist Conference those who have been trained to be Presbyters (ministers) and completed their period of probation in circuit will be ordained. Special services will be held in the Birmingham area this Sunday when friends and family will gather to celebrate and pray for those people who have followed their calling into the ministry.

My own ordination was in Methodist Central Hall, London some 24 years ago with the added surprise of a bus load of family arriving in the big city for the occasion — I am not sure who stayed home to do the milking!

During the week Conference will meet to discuss the life of the Church, wrestle with difficult issues, enjoy fellowship together and seek to offer the wider church a sense of hope and direction for the coming year. This year's big discussion is on the 'God in Love Unites Us' report which will explore the churches direction regarding Marriage and Relationships — which we have discussed locally in church and circuit.
You can dip into the Conference on-line where much of it is live streamed by going to https://www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/the-methodist-conference

Worship at Conference is usually a mixture of traditional and contemporary, often adding musical traditions from the wider Methodist family around the world. One very fitting hymn on Conference's list of songs is well known to us:

Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive.
Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace;
here the love of Christ shall end divisions:
All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.

News Roundup!
World Day of Prayer Service — in Alton
The World Day of Prayer service which couldn't take place in March will now be on the first Friday of July 2nd. This year it has been prepared by the Christian women of Vanuatu on the theme 'Build on a strong foundation'. It will take place at Alton Methodist Church at 2pm and we will be required to wear masks, not sing or enjoy a friendly chat over refreshments, but it will still be a chance to learn about this area of the South Pacific and support the work of World Day of Prayer. For more details contact Jennie Marlow.

A new way to give to our church
Whenever you buy from Amazon online a small percentage of what you purchase will be donated to your favourite charity. Alton Methodist Church is now set up for this — other churches may wish to follow! Instead of going to Amazon you go to rather than amazon.co.uk and on the first occasion it will ask you to search for your favourite charity. This is of course "Alton Methodist Church". Then purchase as normal.

Greetings!
Following a trip to Scotland in recent days Norma passes on greetings from Helen and Peter Wallace and all the family who moved from Alton a short time ago.

Dates for your Diary
Stewards Meeting at Alton — Wed. 30th June at 11:30am in Church
Stewards Meeting at Rowledge July 1st 10.30am
Alton Church Council — Tuesday 6th July at 7.30pm in Church

Cream Tea in the Alton Manse Garden
Saturday 17th July from 2:30pm
Come and enjoy conversation and cake!

Monday July 19th
Farewell Service for Rev Chris Blake our retiring superintendent minister and Local Preacher Accreditation Service — for Liam Sheridan & our other newly accredited Local Preachers.
Arrivals, gathering & picnic from 5.30 pm
Service in the Garden 7pm by kind agreement of Paul & Mair Fry (Little Oakley, Dockenfield)
(Bring your own picnic & chair, parking on site)
(If wet to be held at North Camp Methodist Church and all Covid Regs. allowing)

Worship Services
The on-line Service this week is led by Liz George via www.altonmethodist.org.uk.
Services in Church are as follows:
Alton — 10am led by Liz George
Book via altonmethodist@hotmail.com or ring Liz George

Blessing
May the peace of God enfold you,
May the love of God fill you,
May the joy of God be your delight. Amen.

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