New worship and credit crunch boosts churches
2009: New forms of worship and the economic recession are helping to boost numbers at Methodist
churches across East Anglia
, according to the district Methodist chairman.
After a successful Saturday synod on April 25, held at North Walsham's Anglican parish church, chairman the Rev Graham Thompson (pictured right), from Norwich, said: “We have been experimenting with new forms of worship to be culturally relevant.”
They included café style relaxed services, “messy church” craft-based sessions and Godly Plays - Bible stories told through drama.
They all helped in getting Methodism across to an “increasingly secular society where most people don't have a church background”, added Graham.
While membership was “going down slowly” nationally, and some chapels closing - Southrepps will close in June - there were successes, with 29pc of churches rising in number and some new ones starting up, but often in other buildings, such as a school in White Woman Lane at Norwich. The current economic crisis was drawing more people to the church, said Graham.
“We are getting more people in as they face redundancy and financial problems. People have invested themselves in work and been let down. They are looking for a spiritual area that won't let them down.”
He stressed that there was less competition between the churches - as shown by an Anglican-Methodist covenant signed in 2003 which promotes cooperation between the two.
“People should go to the church they feel most comfortable in - we are not fighting each other for members,” said Graham, but stressed that Methodism needed to ensure it did not compromise its beliefs.
Saturday's synod drew representatives from 286 churches across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire for a day of business, worship and inspiration.