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.
A neighbouring Circuit invites us to "How can I talk about my faith?", led by Revd Melvyn Cooke.
It's on Saturday October 17 (from 10 am until 4 pm) at Walton Methodist Church on Terrace Road, Walton-on-Thames. Booking is £5 - bring your own lunch, but drinks provided. Book through Revd Dave Faulkner, 48 Lane End Drive, Knaphill, GU21 2QG. Cheques to Woking and Walton-on-Thames Circuit.
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 2015 issue: Dear Friends,
The Great British Bake-Off is back. Not that I'm planning on watching it, but I'm aware that it has started. Autumn seems to be the season for settling back and watching how a group of enthusiastic amateurs cope with a range of baking challenges.
And it's not just baking. The same format is used over and over in the TV schedule. I've seen adverts for competitive hairdressing and barbecuing, and it doesn't seem long since I saw a couple of programmes about budding artists trying to impress the judges. If you count minor celebrities amongst the contestants then I can add competitive ballroom dancing, ice skating and gymnastics to the list of activities.
Part of the fascination of such programmes is getting to know the contestants. In some cases they begin as ordinary and unknown people. In other cases (I'm thinking of Strictly now) over half of the so-called celebrities are people I've never heard of. But as the weeks go by, and we share in their triumphs and disasters, we get to know the contestants well enough to care about how they are coping with each new challenge.
One thread running through the gospel stories is how the twelve disciples cope with sharing in the ministry of Jesus. In the beginning they are just a list of names. And not well-known names either. (How many can you name without looking them up?) It's as the story of Jesus progresses that we get to know them as characters. Some, like Peter, James and John, turn out to be front runners in the discipleship challenge. Some, like Thomas and Matthew, have their brief moments in the spotlight. Some (Thaddeus springs to mind) remain pretty anonymous. And at least one seems almost destined for failure. (I'm looking at you, Judas.)
Seeing ordinary people struggle to learn new skills, or to develop existing skills, can be entertaining. But it can also be inspirational. Who among us hasn't watched some particular baking challenge on TV and decided to have a go ourselves? I know I have. My two-tone marble fairy cakes were not up to gourmet standard. In fact they weren't up to much. But they tasted good and the satisfaction at producing something edible was worth the effort.
I wish we knew more about the twelve disciples who learned at the feet of Jesus how to preach good news and how to change lives. There are plenty of legends which have sprung up about these characters, but few hard facts. Often in the gospels they are lumped together as one in their slowness to understand, their fear of the unknown, or their outright disbelief in the face of the resurrection. Yet these men took the ancient world by storm when the Holy Spirit filled them, inspired them and drove them out.
Do you ever wish you could be part of that great missionary movement? Do you want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus as they did? Do you long to face the same kind of challenges they faced, and experience the same indwelling Spirit? The good news is that you can. Jesus chose his disciples not for their expertise or even for their faith, but because they were ordinary folk like you and me. Their success, and yes, their failures too, are an inspiration to us.
And unlike the Great British Bake-Off. In the Great Christian Commission to go and make disciples of all nations, there is no weekly elimination. Whether we succeed or fail, we remain followers of Jesus, we learn from our mistakes and we try again.
The Circuit Meeting (the governing body of the Circuit) meets next at Leatherhead Methodist Church at 7.30 pm on Thursday 10 March 2016.
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.