Sweet challenge at circuit welcome service
So many people wanted to be at a Circuit service at Acomb Methodist Church that extra chairs had to be squeezed in!
The occasion was the welcome service on September 3, 2017, for new members of staff – including a new circuit superintendent, the Rev Keith Albans, who started ordained ministry as a probationer minister at Heworth and Stamford Bridge. Since then he has served in several other circuits and most recently as Director of Chaplaincy and Spirituality at Methodist Homes which cares for elderly people all over the country.
In the York circuit Keith now has pastoral charge of Huntington, New Earswick, Strensall and Thornton-le-Clay
Others welcomed to the circuit included:
-The Rev Rachel Muthoni, from the Methodist Church of Kenya, who has pastoral oversight of Heworth, Dunnington and Stamford Bridge
-Deacon Judith Stoddart, who comes to assist in city centre work at Central MC after a 12-month placement in the Newcastle District
-Mr John Bailey, who has an MA degree in mission and ministry from York St John University, and returns to York as pastoral missioner at Acomb, Holgate and Southlands
-Mr David Arscott, who was a manager of a homeless charity in Bradford, but comes to the circuit as northern rural missioner to work in the Easingwold section.
They join six other ministers, some of whom have taken on new roles in the circuit, and four other lay employees.
Several young people from churches in the circuit were also welcomed to part-time roles as part of the One Opportunity scheme, in which they are encouraged to engage in particular projects in their churches for a full year.
Guests included the York Central MP, Rachel Maskell, and representatives of other denominations.
The service was led by the Rev Andy Lindley, who presented the new members of staff with sticks of rock and led an on-screen game of "True or False" as a way of introducing them to the circuit.
Everyone in the congregation was given a wrapped piece of multi-coloured rock as a reminder of the ministry in which they all shared. The rock had the words "Growing in Christ" – a simplified version of the circuit's vision statement – running through them and the Methodist cross in the centre as a reminder of the shared calling of churches in York.
There was a bag of many rock pieces for each church to take away with them after the service and use creatively through their church and in their community.
The Rev Leslie Newton, former York superintendent and now chair of the new Yorkshire North & East District of the Methodist Church, led the formal part of the service when the new ministers made their promises to work for God in and through the circuit and the churches and to support the people.
In his address, Leslie said that for many people at the service there was "a sense of newness" about the ministry and the life of the circuit. He said: "As Christians we need to take hold of this sense of newness and make with it a fresh response to the compelling call of Jesus Christ when he calls us every day to follow him."
Later, Keith told the congregation that he believed strongly in a God who has a sense of humour. One of the things he had been very conscious of was a sort of sense that one of the blessings of his ministry and his life was the way in which York had "gone with him" almost everywhere he had been. "So in one sense I really do feel that wherever I have been York has been with me and it feels great to have come back to work amongst you and to minister to you. We are here, all of us, to flourish and to grow in Christ."
As the service came to a conclusion, Keith taught the congregation a sung Grace before the refreshments were served. There was a retiring collection for the South Asia flood disaster appeal.
More photos are available on our Galleriespage.
Many thanks to Bob Lawrence for photos and story.