Central Methodist Church was a flagship Connexional project to mark the 100th anniversary of the “strangely warmed heart” of John Wesley, completed in 1840. It has seen this beautiful city change, flourish, struggle and become what it is today, a thriving hub full of visitors and residents, education, commerce and industry.
The congregation that worships in Central Methodist Church has similarly changed, flourished, struggled and become what it is today, a committed family of Christ-followers who have real passion for the church and its place and life in the city, alongside all, especially those who are vulnerable in some way.
Several years ago, we reached a crossroads. With mounting issues with the building itself, and feeling potentially overwhelmed, conversation and prayer were focused on a question, “Do we remain open, and if so, how do we creatively face the future?”.
The answer was an emphatic yes to carrying on, the life of the building was revitalised in terms of tenancies and its use by external groups, and the circuit honoured that deeply held conviction by creating the diaconal post that Judith Stoddart has taken up since September last year.
Central’s life is changing.
We have been worshipping with more variety, moved the children’s area in the church to the front, and begun to meet in small group activities and opportunities during the week, attended by a mixture of church members, passers by, and CareCent clients. We’re asking what it truly means to make the building and our worship as welcoming as possible, and what contribution we uniquely make to the city in the space we have and the faith opportunities we offer. Of course, that without doubt brings changes to our patterns, priorities and the building itself. It’s exciting, challenging and progressive. We’ve come a long way in the past year.
We have commissioned an architect to undertake a feasibility study for the whole of the building, asking ourselves, user groups and performance groups in drama and music to help us re-imagine the possibilities for the physical space we have. Part of that means evaluating the chapel as it is in terms of practicality and accessibility for worship and other events, alongside a potential long term partnership in refurbishing the basement and some considered work around the church entrances and the navigability of the whole building.
We expect to have that work completed by Christmas and will then be deciding how to proceed. We have offers of consultation and assistance from the District and the Connexion, but Central remains a circuit church in our circuit, and so we want you to know that we’re on the move, and that the conversation about our mission and presence in the city centre is alive, growing and will need to be part of our circuit’s stepping out in faith into the future. For now, pray for us, ask us about our life, and give thanks with us for the many years of faithfulness to all that God is doing through us here, and is going to do in the years to come.