During Lent, the congregation held a weekly collection to support those affected by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Like everyone else, we have been appalled by the violence and destruction that is being inflicted upon the innocent people of Ukraine and join with people of all faiths in praying for peace. Together with support from our church funds we raised £1,000, which we will be sending to the Disasters Emergency Committee. We pray that it may be a small help in this desperate situation.
The highlight of our Easter celebrations this year was the production of 'Love Abounds', which took place on the evening of Good Friday. This was a new re-telling of the Passion story in words and music, specially written for Putney by Jessica Dalton and James Naylor. Singers and performers from a number of local churches had been rehearsing hard for months on this project. Drawing on the medieval tradition of the mystery plays, it brought the story to vivid life once more. It was good to welcome so many people to this special occasion and to hear how touched people had been by the power of the story. You can see an amateur recording of the event here on YouTube.
Holy Week at Putney Methodist
It was very good to be able to celebrate Holy Week this year far more 'normally' than has been possible since the start of the pandemic. We marked this very special time of year by opening the church up for private and prayer and reflection each morning. We gathered for a meal and a simple service of Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday evening and then held our Good Friday service outside, to witness to the good news of what God did for us on the cross of Christ. Finally, we gathered round the cross once more on Easter Sunday, but this time one decked with flowers to celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus. It was wonderful to see the church so full again and to see old friends and new gathered together to praise God.
World Day of Prayer
It was a great pleasure to host one of this year's World Day of Prayer services on Friday, 4 March. The material was put together by women from England, Wales and Northern Ireland under the theme of 'I have plans to prosper and not to harm you'. It was an especial pleasure to welcome our local MP, Fleur Anderson, to the evening event, as well as friends from many local churches.
Three baptisms and a confirmation!
We were delighted to host not one but three baptisms and a confirmation at the church on Sunday, 13 February. One baby, a child and an adult were received into the church by baptism, and the adult was also confirmed. In what we believe is an historic first for the church, two of the baptisms were conducted by total immersion. This required erecting a special pool in the church, which made a dramatic centrepiece for the occasion - and required a lot of hard work to empty afterwards! It was a wonderful day and we pray God's blessing upon those baptised.
An historic decision: Putney Methodist Church affirms same-sex marriage
At a special Church Council meeting on Sunday, 6 February, Putney Methodist Church took the historic decision to register its building for the celebration of same-sex marriages. The decision was taken unanimously after prayerful consideration, and an honest and open discussion. The church will become the first place of worship in Putney to register for such marriages.
The discussion followed the Methodist Church of Great Britain’s decision last year to adopt the recommendations of the God in Love Unites Us Report. This report examined all aspects of relationships, including same-sex marriage and cohabitation. It considered how Christians could live faithfully in all relationships, and reflected on developments in the law of the land and changes in understanding on many issues. It recognised the faithful witness and painful experiences of many LGBT people, inside and outside the Church. It concluded that the Church needed to enable people of the same sex to commit themselves to each other in Christian marriage, if it was to "remain true to the God of justice and love”. It recommended that individual congregations be then given the authority to register their buildings for same-sex marriages, if they felt so called.
The minister of the church, Rev’d Geoffrey Farrar, who was a member of the group that produced the report, said: “This is a very important decision in the 150 year history of our church here in Putney. We have been considering these issues nationally for decades and it has often produced great hurt and division. The discussion we had here, though, was a deeply moving one, and people spoke with great honesty and courage from their own experiences. Many of those who spoke wished to affirm all those who have worshipped with us over the years and to offer a true welcome to every member of our community here in Putney. I was delighted that we were able to make the decision unanimously and so harmoniously.”
The church will now formally register the building for same-sex marriages with Wandsworth Council. Anyone who wishes to be married in the building is warmly invited to contact the church here.
A very special Carol Service
We had a very unusual Carol Service this year at Putney. For the first time in our 151 year history (we think), we held the service outside! This was to make sure the event was as safe as possible for everyone attending during this time of increased infection. Our music was accompanied by members of the Putney & Wimbledon Brass Band, who made an incredible sound. It was a really joyous occasion, with neighbours and passers-by all joining in. Many of those attending felt the new location made the occasion even more special.
Singing for Putney!
Members of the PMC Singers were delighted to support the Positively Putney Christmas Fair on Upper Richmond Road this year. Along with other local groups, they performed carols, and raised money for the Glass Door Homelessness charity.
It was very good to welcome the Arminian Ensemble back to the church again for their first concert after the end of the last lockdown. The talented group of musicians performed a wide range of music from Bach to Bonfa on Saturday, 6 November. We heard pieces for piano, flute, violin and organ, all beautifully performed. The concert also raised much-needed funds for the Glass Door homeless project.
We had a splendid Harvest Festival in September, where we celebrated the gift of God's creation. Thank you to everyone who donated so generously to our Harvest collection for the Wandsworth Foodbank. Along with Hurlingham Nursery and our friends at Barnes Methodist, we collected a huge amount, which was very gratefully received. Sadly, the demand for the Foodbank's services show no signs of abating.
Deacon Kathy's Ordination
This summer we celebrated the ordination of Deacon Kathy Johnson into the Diaconal Order of the Methodist Church. Deacon Kathy has served in our Circuit for the last three years as a probationer minister and should have been ordained last year. Owing to COVID, her big day inevitably had to be postponed so it was good finally to celebrate this special occasion in June with her family and fellow ordinands. We rejoice with Kathy in this confirmation of her calling and vocation. (Photo of the COVID-safe service below.)
A great week for Christian Aid
Putney Methodist has always been very pleased to support the charity Christian Aid, especially during its annual fundraising week. Despite COVID, this year was no exception. Working with Churches Together in Putney & Roehampton as usual, the church raised a staggering £1,818.67 through gifts and donations. The highlight of the week was our Coffee and Cake stall, which took place on Saturday, 15 May outside the church. Despite regular rain showers, we had a steady stream of customers, who bought all of the cakes that folks had donated. We were especially grateful to the staff and parents of neighbouring Hurlingham Nursery for their kind donations. Everyone was clearly delighted to be out and meeting up again. We even had a visit from our local MP, Fleur Anderson (pictured right), who gave us great encouragement. Thank you so much to all the volunteers and bakers who helped make this another great year for supporting some of the poorest people in our world. See you next year!
Noye’s Fludde - a year on!
We cannot quite believe it but it's been a year now since our church was full of people and beautiful music for our production of Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde on 8 February, 2020. The opera re-tells the story of the Flood, using the text of a medieval mystery play. Putney’s production was meant to be the start of a year of events to mark the Church’s 150th anniversary but COVID had other ideas!
The piece was directed and organised by Putney member Jessica Dalton, who brought together a wide range of people from across the community, including local churches and schools, to put on a really professional production. Rev’d Nicola Morrison, Chaplain at nearby Southlands College and another worshipper at Putney, co-ordinated much of the music for the show, supported by choral conductor James Naylor, a community music practitioner.
The two performances raised over £1,200 for the two chosen charities Water Aid and the WWF, reflecting the opera’s themes. Here's a special recording of the final hymn from the opera.
Putney 1870-2020 anniversary service
2020 marks the 150th anniversary of Putney Methodist Church, which first opened its door in 1870. We had a whole host of events and activities planned to mark this special year, including a production of Jesus Christ Superstar at Easter and a special exhibition. Sadly, however, COVID-19 had other ideas! We hope to stage at least some of these events in the future, when the restrictions are lifted.
We were able to hold an Anniversary Service, though, on Sunday, 15 November, even if most people had to attend via Zoom. Our minister, Rev'd Geoffrey Farrar, led the service along with members of the PMC Singers. A highlight of the service was the dedication of a new lectern frontal, designed and made by church member, Ruth Kelly (see right).
During the service, we also saw a preview of an exhibition about Putney in 1870 that our organist, David Armstrong, has painstakingly researched and put together. When all restrictions have been lifted, it will show a fascinating insight into life in Putney at that time, as well as details of our church's interesting history. David has kindly put together a taster of what we can expect, visible here. We look forward to seeing the whole thing before too long. (For more details of the church's history, see here.)