Last Sunday was special in the life of our Methodist Church as we celebrated the Awards given to two of our members, Muriel Ash and Ron Lucas, for Sixty Years as Methodist Local Preachers. There were visitors, family and friends from far and wide joining our own congregation in the celebrations. Our chief steward Bunty Hodgkins gave a warm welcome to everyone and to our minister, the Rev’d Mark Lawrence and his wife Carolyn Lawrence, who is a recent Vice- President of the Methodist Conference.

Mark began with a call to worship and we sang our opening hymn, ‘To God be the Glory’ accompanied by Rod Smith on the organ. Mark led our prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving and after a further hymn Muriel, followed by Ron, gave their stories of preaching the gospel for sixty years in various parts of the country, Muriel’s story beginning in Lancashire and Ron’s in Yorkshire but both in the nineteen fifties. The Awards were presented by Robert Williams who is the Local Preachers’ Secretary of the Market Drayton Methodist Circuit a position he has held for forty five years. Carolyn Lawrence said prayers for both Muriel and Ron as they received their certificates. There were five hymns and Muriel and Ron had each chosen a suitable hymn for the occasion.

Rod Smith read from the Book of Isaiah, chapter 52, in which the prophet proclaims the good news of peace brought by the messenger of God, and Norma Buckley read from John, chapter 12, the story of Greeks seeking Jesus. Our prayers for others were also led by Carolyn with prayers for our troubled world, our nation and those near and dear to us.

In his sermon, Mark began by reading parts of the Commissioning Service for Local Preachers taken from the Methodist Service Book, reciting our call to lead worship and prayer, to preach the Gospel; and in every generation men and women have responded to this call and have been admitted as Local Preachers. He spoke of the prophecy of Isaiah as the messenger from God brought the message of Peace to Jerusalem and of the Greeks, described by John, who wished to see Jesus, all recounting the wonderful story of the love of God in our present age.

We shared in the Sacrament of Holy Communion the elements of bread and wine being administered by Mark and Jill Harrison, Carolyn and Keith Harrison before our closing hymn “And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviour’s blood” written by Charles Wesley and chosen by Muriel Ash, thus closing a memorable service.