We are one of the eight churches that make up the Dorking & Horsham Methodist Circuit
The others are to be found in Cobham, Effingham, Leatherhead, Horsham (London Road and St Andrew's), Southwater and Partridge Green.
There is a United Pastorate in the north of the Circuit. This embraces our churches in Leatherhead, Effingham and Cobham, as well as the URC churches at Christ Church (Leatherhead) and Cobham. The Pastorate is served by a Methodist minister (Revd Lynda Russell) and a URC minister (Revd Kim Plumpton).
Our Superintendent Minister is Revd Paul Cockburn. He lives in Horsham, and oversees the Churches at London Road and Partridge Green. Revd Kath Jones is Minister at St Andrew's and Southwater.
Circuit news and events are published in the Circuit Newsletter which comes out quarterly in March, June, September and December. Copies are available in church.
Paul writes in the September 2014 issue: Dear Friends,
In the last few days of my sabbatical I went to the Globe theatre in London to see Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar". During the play the title character is assassinated by several Romans, including one of his closest friends, Brutus. Apparently Caesar's dying words, "Et tu, Brute?" (loosely translated as "you as well, Brutus?"), whilst not historically accurate, was already widely known long before Shakespeare included it in his play.
Brutus had reasons for helping to kill someone he loved dearly. To me they seemed to be pretty poor reasons, but they were enough, within the context of a play, to convince Brutus that Caesar had to die. What it boils down to is this: Brutus (and the other conspirators) did not want Rome to be governed by one man.
It was only later in history that Rome gained an emperor. At this point Caesar was simply a popular figure whose influence had begun to overshadow other Roman politicians. The justification for getting rid of him was based on the principle that the government of Rome should not be in the hands of a lone individual.
It seems to me that this is also an important principle for the local church or circuit. Though don't worry – I'm not prepared to go to the lengths of murder to enforce the principle! It isn't healthy for a church to reach the point where everything depends on one person.
In our recent Bible Study at London Road we were looking at Acts 17. Paul and his companions faced opposition in Thessalonica and then in Berea. He had to move on. Yet the communities of believers he founded continued to flourish without him. In Acts 17:14 it is the Christian community itself which recognises the dangers to Paul and sends him on his way. It's as if they are saying "Thank you for bringing the gospel to us, but we'll take it from here. You are in danger if you stay. Don't worry, we'll cope without you." Paul was a highly influential figure for many local churches, but they didn't fall apart in his absence.
The work of our local churches and the work of our circuit must always be a team effort. Yes, there will be key individuals whose contributions make a huge impact. We need such people to commit time and energy and particular skills. But we should not put the whole responsibility of a church onto the shoulders of one person. Each one of us has a part to play if the church of Christ is to grow and flourish.
Which brings me to another important principle – almost the opposite of what I've been saying so far. In one sense the church does depend on a single individual, and indeed is the responsibility of that one individual. We are part of the Church of Jesus Christ. He is our head, we are only the body. The church is all about Jesus. He guides us and inspires us. He is the reason for our existence. Our business is to serve him and make known his glory and his love.
The Roman empire, whether under a single ruler or not, eventually crumbled and faded away. The Church has already survived longer than the Roman empire and will continue to do so under the headship of Jesus. Our circuit and our local churches are a part of that worldwide community of Christians. And each one of us has our contribution to make. Teamwork – that's where our strength lies.
The Circuit Meeting (the governing body of the Circuit) meets next at London Road Methodist Church, Horsham, at 7.30 pm on Thursday 25 September 2014.
There will be a service for the whole Circuit at 6.30 pm on Sunday September 21 at London Road Methodist Church in Horsham. The preacher will be Martin Ellis and this will be our opportunity to thank him for his service to the Circuit, and to wish him well in retirement in Ipswich.
The Circuit in turn is part of the South-East District of the Methodist Church, which embraces much of Surrey, Sussex and Kent, and parts of Hampshire and Berkshire. Our Circuit is in what is known as the Western Area of the District.