Church is just an escape from real life, isn't it?
Not at all. Jesus was concerned about people - and how people lived with their families and their neighbours. And he challenged people to make an impact on their communities and on the wider society.
Every local church looks for some way to express Christian love in action. Some organise lunch clubs for people who are lonely; employment and training schemes to give hope to people who are out of work; playgroups; youth clubs and a variety of community service programmes. At national level Methodist officers, working on behalf of the Church, are able to lobby Government on issues as diverse as human rights, third world debt and education policy.
It's been quite a while ago that I've been to church and don't know what to expect...
Just come along to one of our services - you might be surprised how modern they are and you can be sure of a very warm welcome. After the service many of us stay for a cup of coffee and a chat.
It is our firm belief that God loves every one of us and it is never too late to find this out for yourself!
I've never been to church/ belong to another denomination - can I still come to your service?
Everyone is welcome. The services are easy to follow and we are more than happy to help if you have questions.
What will happen after the service - will I get pestered to become a member?
Not at all. You can take part in the services whenever you want just as a friend or, if you wish at a later point, become a member, but there is no obligation whatsoever.
We hope that you will feel the spirit and love of God and that you might find your way to Him, but this is a decision you have to make for yourself.
Methodists don't drink alcohol, do they?
Towards the end of the 19th century the Methodist Church supported the temperance movement to set a good example against widespread drinking problems in society. Ministers at one time had to take a pledge not to drink, which encouraged their congregations to do likewise.
Today, alcohol is still not allowed in Methodist Church buildings, but most Methodists consider responsible drinking to be a matter of personal morality.
Who are the Methodists?
We try to reflect in their lives the love which God wishes to share with all people. In worship Methodists give thanks to God who loves us and has set us in this world of possibilities. They give thanks for one another. They pray that God will continue to sustain and enable everyone to live fulfilled lives. Methodist worship is characterised by a lively tradition of hymn singing and a passionate regard for preaching the love and justice of the gospel of Jesus.
The priority of Methodists is to tell people about the Good News of Jesus and call them to faith and to Christian Discipleship. They also embrace care for individuals and communities; involvement in education and development for all, in struggling for a just world, being alongside the poor, caring for the earth and getting to know other cultures and faiths.
So how did Methodism come about?
Methodism has at its roots one person whose vision, determination and faith inspired fellow seekers to re-assess their lives and renew their relationship with God. John Wesley (1703-1791) challenged the religious assumptions of his day, urging those to whom he preached to 'trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation' for the assurance that we are all forgiven through Christ.
When John Wesley was at Oxford University, he was part of a small group of students who held regular meetings for Bible study, prayer and Communion. This earned them the nickname 'The Holy Club' or 'Methodists'.
Wesley became a priest in the Church of England, but in 1738 had a spiritual experience which he described as God working in his heart through faith in Christ. He launched a hugely influential preaching ministry and had a flair for organising people into small groups. These he named classes, with locally appointed preachers and leaders, which studied the gospels and prayed together. Wesley's new movement became a separate Church which grew rapidly throughout the 18th century and afterwards.
How does Methodism fit into the rest of the Christian Church?
The Methodist Church is the fourth largest Christian Church in Britain after the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches and the Church of Scotland. It has close spiritual links with these and the United Reformed Church and other free churches.
All the Christian Churches share a belief that God is the creator and sustainer of all life and that the death on a cross of God's son Jesus Christ was an act of total love which through his resurrection offers a new start beyond our wildest dreams. We share this belief because of the presence of God the Holy Spirit, who continues to move and inspire in the world today.
Methodism encourages links between its churches, recognising the significant benefits in being part of a national movement. This, in Methodism, is called the "Connexion". The Church is governed by the Methodist Conference - a democratically elected body which meets annually.