The Superintendent’s Letter
I have been reflecting on that long weekend of Jubilee celebrations which took place at the beginning of June. For four days the nation came together to delight in a mixture of pageantry and parties. We watched the national events on TV, but also found time to enjoy some local efforts as well.
The first of these I attended was on bank holiday Friday, when Nunthorpe Methodist Church hosted a ‘Right Royal Family Fun Day’. We opened the church and the grounds to the community and hundreds came along. There were people picnicking on the lawn, with children enjoying the bouncy castle. There was music, afternoon teas, stalls, games and a wonderful relaxed atmosphere. You could even have your photo taken with the Queen! People commented that it was the biggest event seen at the church for many years, with too many people to count. The place was heaving.
Having filled myself up with tea and cake, I then attended a second event on the Sunday afternoon, when Stainton Methodist Church and our friends at St Peter and St Paul Parish Church organised a ‘Village Open Air Big Sing’. Music was provided by members of Marske brass band, who combined their junior and senior sections for the day. The weather was a little ‘iffy’ on Sunday afternoon, but the rain held off and approximately 50 people turned up to sing in addition to around 15 band members. The service we held combined a celebration of the church festival of Pentecost with the national celebration of the Jubilee.
The big question we are now asking about these and other weekend events is can we do them again?
Of course the Jubilee is a one off and people might have come simply because the Queen’s jubilee captured their imagination. People wanted to participate in an historic moment in the life of the nation. But then again the big attendance may have been more to do with the two years of Covid restrictions we have all endured. There is a new sense of delight at being able to gather in crowds and enjoy the freedoms we have been so long denied by this wretched virus. Whatever the reason, people certainly relished the chance to come together in celebration. After all, everyone enjoys a party with music and singing and cake, and this one was too good to miss.
To answer the question posed above, I certainly believe the church has an important part to play in community events, and while we cannot repeat or recapture exactly the events of the past, we can be creative in planning new ones. We don’t have to do it all ourselves and it is usually best if we share our vision and partner with others. The church is embedded in communities in a unique way, because we engage with people’s lives at the very deepest level of meaning. We relate to people at times of crisis and at times of joy. This is a huge privilege for the Church and a wonderful opportunity to be representatives of Christ in wider society. In this we demonstrate his love, his hospitality and his acceptance of all people.
I hope you all enjoy the rest of the summer,
Yours in Christ,
Revd David Godfrey.
An introductory booklet