Lest I should seem ungrateful for all that the Church in its various shapes, sizes, flavours and locations has given me, here’s a ‘thank you’ letter to all the churches that created spaces where over the years I have met with God…. It might run to two (or three or four) posts….
Thank you to Bromborough Methodist Church and all the wise, kind and child-friendly people who ran the Sunday School, taught us to sing ‘Tell me the stories of Jesus’, made me proud of being in the JAM (Jesus and me) Club, and where God first seemed like someone who might ask a huge challenge of me, something worth committing my life to. Thanks for the image I still hold of the buxom Methodist lay preacher hanging out of the pulpit high above, who imprinted on my early consciousness the possibility of women in church leadership; and to the sense of belonging I and my family got from our circle of friends in the church.
Thanks to all the Methodist chapels on the Isle of Man where I sat on anniversary benches during our family holidays with my grandparents and various other aunts and uncles looking on… the sense of exoticism from the high excitement of the day, of being part of a collective enterprise, and something bigger than myself. For the rousing Wesleyan hymns, the haunting ‘Manx Evening Fisherman’s Hymn’, the Boys’ Brigade anthem ‘Will your anchor hold?’ and the Sunday evening brass band services in the Sea Terminal as the Steam Packet boats landed their passengers in the warm sunshine.
Thanks to Dave, Joan and Graham at Onchan Methodist Church for supporting a young teenager through a change of school and environment, and for the opportunities at Ballakilpheric Chapel to lead Sunday School groups, teach 3 and 4 year olds the stories I’d learned… to play my guitar and grow in leadership responsibility, make friends with adults, and be part of a community independent of my parents. And thanks to the folk at the Darragh, offering their upstairs room to a motley crew of young people every Saturday evening to study the Bible, worship and pray.
Thank you to all of them, and to God for his goodness. This was just the first 18 years!