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 December 2015 issue: Dear Friends,
"The Lion, the Witch and the
Wardrobe" is not just a classic children's book by C S Lewis, but a deeply
Christian story even though it is set in the fantasy world of Narnia. When I
realised this, then one of the characters struck a jarring note – what on earth
was Father Christmas doing in Narnia?
I know that his appearance showed the wicked
witch was losing her power over the land. Under her spell it was always winter
but never Christmas. But how does 'Christmas' fit in with the the character of
Aslan the Lion? It is clear from the stories that Aslan represents Jesus. He
offers himself to a sacrificial death to save one of the children and returns
to life with the dawn. So what is the celebration of the birth of Jesus doing
in a fantasy story where Jesus is represented by a lion?
Perhaps I am thinking too logically about this.
Christmas as a concept has taken on a life of its own. In the Harry Potter
stories, where miracles are performed by magic and where God plays no part, the
wizarding community still celebrates Christmas. The festival of Christmas now
seems to have as much to do with the birth of Jesus as the festival of
Halloween has to do with it being the eve of All Saints day (or "All
Hallows" day to use the old language.)
One thing that Christmas still has going for it
is that many people do associate it with the Nativity Story. Even though that
story has become surrounded by all kinds of traditions and details which are
not part of the Biblical narrative, the baby in the manger has not yet vanished
entirely from our celebrations.
I don't think there's anything we can do to
stop Christmas being the mammoth two-month long celebration of consumerism and
fancy decorations. But what we can do is keep Jesus as the reason for our
celebration, and as an inspiration for how we celebrate. Here are two
suggestions for how to do that, both based on the kind of people who hate
Not everyone looks forward to the family
getting together over Christmas. For a variety of reasons some will be dreading
the gathering of the clan. Maybe it's the amount of cleaning and cooking which
needs to be done. Maybe it's the knowledge that certain family members do not
get on with each other. Maybe it's the need to keep everyone entertained. Maybe
it's simply the large numbers which seem like an invasion.
My suggestion? Jesus showed us how to love and
serve others no matter who they are. What better way to honour his birth than
by treating Christmas as an opportunity to practise the virtues of humility, hospitality,
self-sacrifice, peace-making and patience. The more awkward your relatives, the
better practice it will be to treat them well.
Some dislike Christmas for the opposite reason
– loneliness. It's bad enough to feel neglected and alone, but when everyone
around is having a good time then it somehow feels much worse.
My suggestion? Take the time to remember the
lonely and unloved this Christmas. There is a legend of a king who gave up his
own comfort to trudge through the snow and provide warmth and food for a poor
man. Admittedly this was on December 26th (St Stephen's Day) rather
than the 25th, but good King Wenceslas is not just a carol to be
sung. He is an example to be followed.
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.