Thoughts on Methodism Part Two: How I Got Here (2)

Yesterday, I described how I came to be a Methodist. I wrote that mostly from the American viewpoint because for the first 30 years of my life that was my encounter with Methodism! But whenever I meet someone new, I can usually count on the question, ‘How did you come to live over in Britain?’

Whilst in seminary, I read about the ‘British-American Ministry Programme’ (BAMP). American ministers freshly graduated from seminary could apply to spend a year as a circuit minister in The Methodist Church of Great Britain. I had always wanted to visit the UK, having grown up with a mother who was fascinated with British monarchical history and British comedy television. This looked like an even greater opportunity to spend a year! So, I asked April what she thought and she got excited as well.

Bamber Bridge Methodist Church - the Old Building

Bamber Bridge Methodist Church - the Old Building

In February 2004, I got an email from Methodist Church House telling me I had been appointed to the South Ribble Circuit of the North Lancashire District. I would serve two churches, Bamber Bridge and Trinity. I had no idea where any of these places were, but they sounded exciting. Bamber Bridge was due to tear down its building and build a new one on the same spot. The circuit wanted me there particularly to pastor them through the ‘wandering’ time without a building.

When I arrived in August 2004, the church had yet to move out of the building and wouldn’t do so until Boxing Day (26 Dec). The entire project was heavily delayed. After our first three months, I talked to April about staying another year to finish out why we came, to stay with the church through the ‘intermediary time’. I approached the circuit superintendent, who immediately said yes and started the process which would keep me for another year.

As the year progressed, April and I felt that we did not think our time in the British church was over. We loved the people

Trinity Methodist Church

Trinity Methodist Church

(from the churches and the staff) so much that we just couldn’t bear to leave yet. Also, my district chair, Stephen Poxon, like to quote a former Methodist president who said we are on the verge of another Pentecost. I wanted to be a part of that in some small way.

Unable to stay in our former circuit, we came to Blackburn and whilst smaller in staff and total membership, we grew by a church to three: Wilpshire, Mellor, and Langho. Settling into a new circuit and being more aware of what happens within the church nationally, the novelty rubs off a little. It’s a little like going to a few villages in England when everything is new. A Spar shop seems magical and quaint when you’ve never seen one.  But, it becomes commonplace when you see one in EVERY village you go to and there is one down the street from where you live. The people who live in the area have been very welcoming, but it’s still different. It is a different form of ministry than what I am used to, and there likely needs to be give on both sides (but, being selfish, I probably focus more on how others need to change).

I was also simply unprepared for the shock of moving (I tried to tell myself that knowing that I would be moving around my life as a Methodist minister, I should be prepared. I did not take into account the emotional toil, and refused for a while to let myself acknowledge and work through it).

So, part of this writing out will hopefully help me to think through how I got here and where I am going. I am trying to separate out where is it that the novelty has rubbed off and where I truly need to think through issues.

Mellor Methodist Church

Mellor Methodist Church

Langho Methodist Church

Langho Methodist Church

Wilpshire Methodist Church

Wilpshire Methodist Church


3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Methodism Part Two: How I Got Here (2)

  1. When I married Dan, I really thought I was prepared for all the moving I would have to do (him being in the military). It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I grew close with people and I was used to the routine that I had created there. Then there was one time that I was thanking God that I was leaving. It seemed as though there were only horrible people there and bad experiences. It probably was not that bad, but all the things going on at the time colored the way I saw city and how I remembered it. It was also the city where my little girl spent her first year and there are many wonderful memories of all her firsts there (like her first steps). Now that Dan it out of the military and we have settle down, I still feel as though I should be ready to move at any moment and that this is all temporary.

  2. 🙂 as one just about to move from a layworker post in rural Norfol to a Probationers post ( hopefully) in Yorkshire I think I understand some of the feelings you have expressed here. I guess there is maddness in our Methodism!!

  3. Kelly: I think the hardest part is leaving the people you grow to love. But, as you say, it can be a good thing to move on if the experience is bad! You do mention something I have only given passing thought: when one moves that much, you do leave behind the ‘footsteps’ of some of your favourite memories. It will be odd to leave the places where Savannah learned to walk, talk, etc.

    Sally: I will be praying for you over the next few months. I always stress to those moving that they need to create space for mourning especially. I think I thought it was somehow disrespectful of my new congregations, and as I have finally admitted to them my early struggles, all of them understood why it would be hard to leave. None felt it was disrespectful in the least!

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