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EBENEZER METHODIST CHURCH

Achievements in 2020

 

Ever since we embarked on our first mission building project back in 2006, we have created a short paper celebrating our achievements for the year.For it is only when you begin to write things down that you begin to realise and appreciate the extent to which God is working, even in a small Church, such as Ebenezer.Fast track to 2020 and one might wonder how, in a year when Covid-19 forced the closure of our buildings and social distancing came knocking, we have been able to record any achievements.Well, we certainly have!We are called to be people of action and our work with the communities we serve took on a whole new dimension.

 

The year began well with our new initiative, ‘Friends@4’, starting on the 4th Sunday in January, offering a highly interactive and fun time of bible stories, music and craft activities, followed by a light supper in the hall.With new relationships forged with the United Reformed Church (URC), we planned to join them for morning worship once a month on our Friends@4 Sunday.Our regular groups; Generations, Pickles and Pickles’ Plus continued to thrive as winter gradually drew into spring.However, everything ground to a halt when the first lockdown forced the closure of our Church buildings just before Mothering Sunday on 22nd March.It immediately led us to think differently.

 

Realising that some of our community might be feeling worried or concerned, we delivered a Mothering Sunday plant with words of encouragement. Some of our Pickles mums also received a bookmark.We never imagined that this would pave the way for keeping up the connections throughout the year and these ‘drop offs’ have become our way of letting people know that we continue to think of them.

 

Our Pickles family swung into action with Easter craft and created some wonderful artwork, from fluffy chickens and rainbows to messages of hope, joy and love that were posted out to members of community.We also wanted to demonstrate that whilst our building was closed, God is alive and with us, so we decorated a cross with fresh flowers and placed it in our Church Porch on the roadside to demonstrate that, even in times of crisis, the love and hope of the Easter message is real.

 

Our Pickles family created artwork for the ‘Thanks Walls’ in the corridors of the Nightingale hospital and sent dear Captain Tom cards at the end of April for his 100th birthday.  Our lay worker, Amy, also introduced a new initiative based on old fashioned ‘pen pals’, following a spontaneous letter from one of our 6-year olds to an older member of our congregation which set the ball rolling.  It was like winding the clock back and one of the many consolations of this pandemic, as communities supported one another and lifted spirits.

 

A box of activities was created and left outside the Church for our Pickles families to keep their children occupied during lockdown and we continued to remain connected through weekly stories read by Amy and posted on Facebook.  The Friends@4 bible stories were also narrated by Rev Nico and uploaded onto Facebook, together with video instructions for making the craft that was posted out on request.

 

Almost without exception since 1946, there has been an ecumenical service of thanksgiving at Ebenezer on Liberation Day.  This year, although the flags were flying outside the Church, the doors remained firmly closed and with congregations still in lock-down, technology played its part in bringing this year’s Circuit Liberation service into our homes.  Jersey flags were also coloured in and sent to members of our community.  We decided to continue with a collection for the British Red Cross and, remarkably, raised £900, which was significantly more than the amount collected at the service the previous year. 

 

Following the Church Council decision to make parking safer and easier by using part of the lawn area, the work eventually began on 18th May.  We are so blessed that the majority of the cost was funded by a local Trust.  The work gives us an area where mini-buses can park more easily and we have more flexibility to manage the parking for large funerals, concerts and school events.  We replaced our ancient heating system in Church in July and new pipes and modern, more efficient radiators were installed.  Our AV system was also updated in the summer, thanks to a Circuit Technology grant, and the controls were moved to the back of the Church.  Our two other projects; the creation of a new store in the vestibule of the Church and a refreshment area at the back of the Church are both on hold due to our current financial position.

 

Following a challenge to our Pickles community to get involved with a ‘design a butterfly’ competition, entries flew in and flew out at the beginning of June to brighten up the days of our more senior members. 

 

At the beginning of July, Ebenezer re-opened its doors for Sunday worship and followed the strict Government guidelines, with spacing made much easier with our chairs, rather than pews!  The lack of singing was outweighed by the re-kindling of socially distanced fellowship that had been so missed by our congregation.

 

The Pickles graduation on 10th July was held outside, signalling the end of another school year.  At the beginning of the new term, Pickles was one of the first of the 21 or so Church-based Baby and Toddler groups to re-open its doors on 11th September.  It was the inability to physically come together as a community that was missed by the adults as much as the children and our lay workers went to no end of trouble to comply with the restrictions so we could open.  We operated two restricted groups who attended every other week.  BBC TV and Radio Jersey were interested in our story and interviewed Amy, one of our lay workers, who talked about the impact of lockdown and our efforts to re reopen.

 

Our Generations community was also missing their get togethers, which had not resumed because of the risk of mixing the age groups.  However, we managed to squeeze in two events in our Church for more senior members; an afternoon tea at the end of August and a soup and pud lunch in October, which were both much appreciated.   

 

By Harvest the permitted numbers allowed in our congregation was up to 40 so we were delighted that friends from the URC were able to join us for our service of thanksgiving.  Our annual Harvest Gift Day raised £950, which was an increase on the previous year.  For years, we have been sharing Remembrance Sunday at the Parish Church, but with restricted, outdoor seating, it was decided to hold our own service, led by Anne with our very own Jasper playing the National Anthem on his French horn.  We received donations of £230 for the Poppy Appeal.  Pickles also raised £220 for the annual BBC Children in Need Appeal in the Autumn.  Under our ‘Window to the World’ scheme we continue to make donations to our two chosen charities; Malindi community projects in Kenya and new for this year, the MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship).

 

At the end of November when the number of positive cases in the Island tipped the 1,000 mark and our Government introduced new measures, our doors closed again at the beginning of December.  Our ‘Chaos at the Crib’ service was forced online and our Christmas craft team sprung into action and produced a lovely stained-glass window with a candle decoration that was posted out together with a prayer card, bringing rays of light and hope as we passed through the shortest day.  The team also painted ‘Baby Jesus’ pebbles that were placed around the parish just before Christmas for parishioners to find and keep.  As part of an ecumenical initiative featuring a video from each parish to celebrate the ‘Twelve Parishes of Christmas’, we were grateful to Ian, Olivia and Rupert for sharing their musical talents for the parish of Trinity’s contribution, which was broadcast on Christmas Eve. 

 

Although not physically together for much of the year, we have remained connected and embraced new technologies.  Thanks to Rev Derek for our online bible study where we have deepened our faith and shared the love of God, and to Anne for arranging coffee time on Zoom.  We set up a new Ebenezer Methodist Church Jersey page on Facebook, which is managed by Kirsty, one of our lay workers, and introduced an Ebenezer WhatsApp group.

 

Financially, it has been a challenging year, with income from hall bookings and collections down on the previous year.  However, we are blessed with regular income from our flat and car parking space rentals and a grant from a local Trust to sustain the vital work of our lay workers.  We were pleased that the Jersey Youth Performing Arts (JYPA) were at least able to use our Church for their rehearsals during the summer months. 

 

We are forever grateful to our Leadership team; Michael, Anne, Ian and Jane for their dedication, wisdom and hard work, to our lay workers; Amy and Kirsty, and to all other members who hold office in the Church.We are also grateful to the Circuit for their weekly online services involving different people from around our Churches, including Ebenezer.We look forward to a world post-Covid-10, but for now we acknowledge what was, accept what is now and trust God for what will be.
 

EB. STEWARDS    February 2021

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