Bishop Auckland and Shildon Methodist Circuit Website.
Report to Spring Synod 2021
The lockdown of March 2020 brought normal Circuit life to a grinding halt. However, the people of the Circuit have proved imaginative and creative in maintaining contact with one another and providing worship opportunities. They also continue to explore what it means to be Christians in 21st century Britain and the wider world, both of which are so challenged by inequality, climate change and various health challenges, including coronavirus. This exploration is often done with ecumenical partners and other interested parties.
Throughout the initial period of lockdown, there was a significant commitment by so many people to keep in touch with those who were isolated, some who were shielding and others who found themselves in difficulties of one form or another. The value of the pastoral system was very much evident, and still is! One person commented, "The class system is alive and well in the circuit!" The Woodhouse Close Community Centre continued to give great crisis intervention support to its local community throughout this time.
The purchase of new technology and a relationship with the local radio station has led to a service being recorded in Bishop Auckland Methodist Church each Thursday for broadcast on the following Sunday and this doubles as an opportunity to share in worship on the church's YouTube channel. Regular contributions from young people nurtured by the church are part of this service. In addition, a Zoom service, accessible to anyone throughout the Circuit, takes place each Sunday evening.
Most churches in the Circuit felt able to resume communal worship in September after conducting risk assessments and ensuring the premises met coronavirus regulations. The efforts that church leadership teams and others put in to achieve this are very much appreciated. It was disappointing to many that worship had to stop again in November before a brief reopening in December for Christmas, but then closing again in January.
We look forward to opening once again for worship in the lead up to Easter and to planning a way forward to meet the needs of the local communities in which the churches are situated.