Transforming Central – A Story Unfolding

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.

 

Lent on Central’s Facebook page

We have a Facebook page, where we normally post details of our services alongside any other relevant from our city and the world of Methodism. You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/CentralMethodistChurchYork/  Make sure you ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ to keep up-to-date.

The hymns that we sing are an important influence on our theology and hence the way we lead our lives. Singing has been at the heart of the Methodist story since it’s beginnings. The preface to the hymn book states “Singing hymns in worship assists us in meeting with the living God and helps us to grow in faith, discipleship and fellowship.” The same can be applied to using the words of hymns in personal reflection and prayer.

During Lent we’re going to be adding in a devotional and reflective element to our posts. Each day we’ll be posting the words of a hymn verse from our normal Hymn book,  Singing the Faith. If you have a favourite hymn, or have spotted something that particularly speaks to you, or something that helps you during Lent, then let us know and we’ll include it. There’s 40 days to fill!

Please get in touch with your suggestions using the comments form below.

New ministerial team at Central

Deacon Judith Stoddart and Revd Rory Dalgliesh

On September 3rd 2017, Deacon Judith Stoddart (along with other new circuit staff) was welcomed to the York circuit at Acomb Methodist church. The annual welcome service marks the start of the Methodist year.

Judith will be serving  a Probationer Deacon at Central and working across the city centre. She was born in Neston, Cheshire but grew up in the North East of England. She worked in the insurance industry for twenty years before
sensing God was calling her to something else. This was
initially as a youth and family worker in a Methodist church, followed by a
surprising, compelling call into Diaconal Ministry.

We also welcome Rory as our new Presbyter Minster. Originally hailing from South Africa, Rory has worked for the last 11 years as Chaplain to the University of York. He’ll also have pastoral charge of Haxby and Wiggington Methodist Church.

In the picture above, Rory and Judith are holding a huge paper bag containing pieces of rock, with ‘Growing in Christ’ running through. We look forward to growing in Christ alongside them.

‘Growing in Christ’ Rock.

 

All change

After ten years of faithful service in the York circuit, this summer Revd Chris Humble will be leaving Central for County Durham.

Chris’s final service as minister at Central will be held on Sunday 9th July at 6:30pm, at which we’ll be joined by many of Chris’s ecumenical colleagues. Refreshments will be served after the service, and we’d be very pleased if as many people as possible were able to share in this event as we give thanks for Chris’s ministry.

From September (the start of the Methodist year), our minister will be Revd Rory Dalgleish (previously chaplain to the University of York). We’ll also be welcoming Judith Stoddart, who takes up a new role as city centre deacon based at Central.

The changes are exciting for Central, our city, and circuit. We will continue to keep Chris, Rory, Judith and their families in our prayers as they make their transitions.

 

 

 

 

 

Roof works at Central

Work starts at Central Methodist Church in St Saviourgate York to address urgent roof repairs.

Last year, Central Methodist Church successfully applied for the grant through the Government-funded Listed Places of Worship: Roof Repair Fund. Further funding was obtained from the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme and the wider Methodist Church. Work begins by local firms JMark Construction and Mass architects to put the plans into action on Monday 13th March, to be complete by early June.

It is hoped that the repairs grade 2* listed chapel will make the roof water tight and prevent further water damage. At the same time the ornate ceiling will be strengthened to preserve it for future generations.  In the meantime the church and halls remain open for bookings six days a week, as well as continuing our traditional Sunday morning and evening services to which all are welcome.

Over the last three years Central Methodist Church has invested over £200,000 of its own funds seeking to find new ways of conserving and adapting the city centre church and its ancillary buildings for the continuing benefit and welfare of the community of the city and its visitors.

Angie Creswick, York Methodist circuit resources manager said “’The outcome of the project is to secure this important 1840 Grade II* listed building from further water ingress and stabilise the highly ornamented plaster ceiling pending the development of future conservation projects. The chapel includes a balcony and seats over 1000 people with original box pews and a large historic pipe organ.”

The congregation meets weekly for worship and the building provides spaces for several local charities and community events. Carecent, a charity providing breakfast for homeless people, has been based at the church for over 30 years.

What’s in a name?

As our programme of becoming a community venue goes from strength to strength, we’d like to find a name under which to operate.

Our congregation will continue to be ‘Central Methodist Church York’, but we’re considering using a different name for our premises. It needs to reflect what our premises can offer more accurately, we’re not just a chapel building, we have halls, offices, a promising garden space and more.

We’d like the new name to reflect our Central location, to be easy to remember and short enough to ‘trip off the tongue’. Ideally it will be distinct from other venues and projects, and easy to find on the internet.

We’ve been trying to think of something suitable for a few weeks, and now we thought we’d ask our community for ideas! Please leave comments below or on our Facebook page.

Transforming Central in the news

We’ve been in the York Press a couple of times over the last few weeks. Firstly when we announced our intentions to expand our building’s community use:

“£3m plan announced to turn York city centre church into community centre”

And more recently the reporter, Victoria Prest came to talk to our minister, Rev Chris Humble, to get more detail:

“Ambitious plans to open up huge central York church”

Over the next new weeks and months we’ll be firming up our plans, exploring the relationships we might have with other churches and organisations as well as starting the hard work of finding funding. Please get in touch if you’d like to get involved!

 

Central to be transformed into a new community venue

The managing trustees of Central Methodist Church York have voted to pursue a future where the Grade 2* listed building is transformed into a community centre. The alternative scenario for the church to choose from was to close the church building and cease to meet for worship; this was rejected. This key milestone took place on Thursday 10th December. Continue reading