Newssheet July 19th 2020

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Billy 1
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Dear Friends,
As many of you will know our own congregation is part of the Hants-Surrey Border Methodist Circuit with its twelve churches stretching from Alton to Frimley Green.

One of our ministerial team, Rev Billy Slatter, is 'siting down' (retiring) as minister in our circuit having had special responsibility for the churches at Fleet and Hartley Wintney.

Billy will not have had the opportunity to minister too often in our section of churches and so as we share in a 'circuit on-line service' this week to say farewell and pray God's blessing, I asked Billy to share some of his faith story, his experiences and some highlights of his 29 years of ministry for our newsletter.

Rev Billy Slatter writes:

I became a Christian in 1971 at the age of 16 following a dramatic conversion experience and immediately I knew I was called to the Ministry, but at that time, without a religious background, I had no idea what it meant! I continued with a career in the shipping industry and became a specialist in meat importation. It led to 7 years working in Smithfield Meat Market — they were great days.

In 1985 I changed course and was employed as a Lay Worker with the Methodist Church in Bromsgrove, Worcs. It was a good experience and confirmed my called to ordained ministry.

From there I went to Wesley College, Bristol and I have been a Methodist Minister since 1991, with stations in Horley, Surrey (5 years), Norwich (9 years), Jersey (12 years) and just 3 years here.

The church has given me many special opportunities; I have studied and led groups in Israel, built a house in Zambia and visited some significant 1st century archaeological sites.

Ministry gives you the privilege of being with people at special moments in their lives. There have been the joys of births and weddings and the tragedies of illness and death, but in all these, it has been a privilege to be able to be there and bring Christ to those moments.

Ministry also opens doors to bring faith to community, like when I rode a horse into school for a Wesley Assembly or when I co-ordinated the whole of Jersey in community events marking the 2012 London Olympics.
I was also the first to bring World Cup worship to public attention when the TV cameras came to my church and we were the opening pictures on BBC News at Ten (I kept the video!)

As with the whole of life, there are times of intense pain and times of incredible joy, but through it all; the best of all is God is with us.

Our on-line service this week will feature contributions from Rev Chris Blake (Superintendent Minister), Rev Dr David Hinchliffe (Chair of the South East Methodist District), the Fleet Music Group and of course from Rev Billy and his wife Pauline.

Billy will be moving to Rustington in August with the incoming minister being Rev Nick Oborski who is at present Superintendent Minister in the Cardiff Circuit.

News Update:
A person from Alton wrote to me this week as follows:
As I pass our church, I always notice the flower tub at the front, still lovingly tended as it always is, and a good visible reminder that our church centre lives on. Thank you to those who tend to it.

A notice was also passed on from Alton Foodbank:

Please could members of your churches pause their food donations until further notice. Due to the generosity of the town and also the fact that we have been given so many unwanted government food boxes we have a very full warehouse. We don't want to collect food that is then wasted however once stocks are back to normal Foodbank will be in contact.

Gift Day — Thank you to everyone who has felt able to offer a special gift over Alton's Church Anniversary weekend. Your ongoing generosity and kindness are greatly appreciated.

Thank you to Liz for preparing a fantastic anniversary service — it was appreciated by so many people!

Church Opening Update — The churches in our section continue working on the mandatory risk assessments and action plan in preparation for a possible opening up of our buildings for both worship and some user groups — possibly in September where practical — however it is no easy task with so many restrictions and ongoing updates.

Worship This Week
Sunday Service — Hymns, songs, readings and reflections prepared as a Circuit Service to mark the retirement of Rev Billy Slatter. To listen to the service and join in — please visit the Alton Methodist Church web site (front page) where it will be available on Sunday morning:

Songs of Praise — BBC 1 at 1.15pm on Sunday.

The Rev Kate Bottley finds out about the village vicars of Eyam, Derbyshire, who initiated lockdown 355 years ago to protect the rest of northern England from the bubonic plague.

A Blessing
God be in our head and in our understanding.
God be in our eyes and in our looking.
God be in our mouth and in our speaking.
God be in our heart and in our thinking.
God be at our end and at our departing.

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