MEMBERS of the Anglican and Methodist congregations in the Chester villages of Ince and Elton have been working together and holding joint services since a covenant in 1995. Now, the dozen members of the Methodist chapel in Elton, and the 45-or-so regular worshippers at St James’s, in Ince, have decided to become one congregation.
Methodism in Elton has a history going back 200 years, and the chapel has been there for 165 years, but it is no longer affordable. “It is obviously sad to say goodbye to the chapel, which has been our spiritual home for so long,” says Kath Nightingale, whose family has worshipped there for generations, “but we know it is the right thing to do so we can continue to work for God in our community.”
The final service was led by the Revd James Booth, chairman of the Methodist District, and then he and the Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Revd Keith Sinclair, led the congregation to St James’s (above), which will now be the new “church in the village”.
The Methodists brought with them important symbols from their chapel, including communion glasses, and a framed list of former ministers of the church. The congregation then celebrated holy communion as a sign of unity in their new partnership. Representatives of the church and the wider denominations completed the signing of the new covenant agreement, there was enthusiastic singing.
The Vicar of St James’s, the Revd Margaret Fletcher, tells me that they will continue to have monthly Methodist services and to invite Methodist preachers, as well to hold ecumenical services and regular Anglican eucharists. “We will no doubt need to get used to each other’s little ways, but as we journey into the future with God, I have every confidence that this covenant will be good for the church and for our community.”