Castle Eden Methodist Circuit Website (formerly United North East Circuit)
Report to Spring Synod 2021
The circuit welcomed Revd Bev Hollings as superintendent in April last year, although she was only able to move in July, thanks to lockdown. The period over the last year has seen big changes in the circuit, due to the lockdown effect to some extent. The Villages, Westbourne and Seaton Carew churches have ceased to meet, and conversations are taking place with the members at Hesleden about the future there. None of these closures has been taken lightly and in the most part have been due to the age of the congregation. The members are still being giving pastoral care, even though restrictions mean that this is at a distance rather than face to face.
However, positive things have happened. The lockdowns of last year and this have seen a need to explore other avenues of communication, from which, has developed a zoom service on Saturday morning, with a Worship at Home produced for printing for those who don't have the technology, along with a weekly newsletter. All the innovations have been well received by appreciative members and friends. The zoom worship has meant that people from different churches have actually begun to get to know each other. A particular feature of the zoom worship has been the willingness of many people to take part, either through readings or leading prayers, which have added to the enrichment of the worship.
The Westbourne building has been retained and is now known as '@689'. The vision is for a joint project with the Boys' Brigade to provide a new community hub and to plant a new worshipping community '689@Westbourne' in the building. Time, as we wait for the easing of the current lockdown situation, has been put to good use completing a detailed Community Audit and making connection with other agencies working in the area. The current chaplain to the Boys' Brigade, Deacon Annabel, has asked to have her appointment in the circuit curtailed from September, due to family reasons, and arrangements are in hand to cover the situation. The circuit will be sorry to see Annabel leave as she has been invaluable to the church and community, but fully appreciate her reasons for needing to move on, which she will do with our grateful thanks, best wishes, and prayers.
Underpinning everything has been a body of people faithful to their Saviour, practising his word in the churches and communities in which they live.