Last Sunday morning we celebrated the 162nd Anniversary of the founding of our church and our annual Gift Day.
In welcoming our preacher, the Rev’d Helen Kirk, Chair of the Chester & Stoke on Trent District, our steward recited some important dates in the church’s history, from the planting of the church in 1860, its extension to build a Sunday School in 1931, the Sunday School further extension in 1977 and the complete remodelling of the church in 1998.
Margaret Maxwell had assembled a display of artefacts, photographs and documents which traced the history of the church, from early meetings in a nearby farmhouse through to the modern, flexible worship space and community centre of today.
During the service we remembered with gratitude our founding fathers and all those who have worshipped with us down the years.
After the opening responses we sang the great hymn by William Williams, “Guide me O Thou Great Jehovah” our music being provided by Neil and Jill Barnett after which there were prayers of adoration and confession.
Margaret Maxwell read from Genesis, chapter 28, where Jacob had a dream at Bethel and he lay down a memorial stone, following which Helen spoke of those who lay down the stone 162 years ago to build our church. She looked back on special moments in our church life and we remembered that “God is here and our foundation is in the presence of God”. Gerry Maxwell read from Matthew, chapter 16, in which Jesus tells Peter that on this rock I will build my church as Peter had declared that Jesus was the Messiah the Son of the Living God. Helen spoke of the future of the church, any church, being in the foundation of the faith of individual Christians. Jesus had asked his disciples “who do you say I am?” Peter jumped in and responded after which Jesus resolved to make Peter the rock on which he would build his church. Helen challenged us to cling to our faith which is the bedrock of the future of the church.
Before our hymn we prayed for others in need but gave thanks for the fellowship of love and welcome which we enjoy at Ashley Methodist Church. We celebrated Holy Communion with Jill Harrison assisting the minister as the elements of bread and wine were delivered to our congregation and over tea and coffee we enjoyed the exhibition of early memorabilia of our church’s 162 years arranged by church members.