Welcome to the website of Bethesda Methodist Church, Cheltenham.
We are a community of all ages who love God, find life and hope in the way of Jesus, and seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit in all that we do. We hold together the rich and broad tradition of Christianity with insights and understandings from the present, and this is reflected in our theology and variety of worship.
We support a wide programme of worship events and community activities throughout each week; some we organise, some we host, and many of which are detailed on the website. Simply follow the drop down menu to find out more.
There is a link below to the Weekly Notices and you can find a Weekly Thought and Prayer on this website.
We look forward to welcoming you.
Easter Sunday - Christ is Risen! Hallelujah!
The women set off early this morning for the tomb. Before the others were awake and dressed, some of them were back with news. Strange, disturbing, exciting and liberating news:
Sat together in silence after his death, we wait. Sorrow fills our hearts.
As we reflect on all the events of the past week, the triumphal entry, the clearing of the temple, the Passover meal,
the betrayal and his crucifixion, we wonder what will come next.
We are vulnerable; afraid; shocked.
This man we followed, this man we gave up so much to be with, is nothing more than a brutalised corpse.
We took him down. We bathed him and dressed him. As tears fell, we laid him in a tomb.
All the time, we were watched by soldiers, told to guard the body. Who knows what they thought we'd do with it.
And so we wait.
The women have their spices and oils ready for the morning so they can anoint his body again.
That is, if morning will come again; right now, the night seems endless. The eternal Sabbath, as the whole of nature feels like it's grieving.
30 March 2021
As we approach more milestones in the Government's roadmap for re-opening after lockdown, here is an update on our plans for re-opening our church building for both worship and other activities.
The steer from both the Government and the Connexion remains one of caution and of a slow, considered approach to re-opening. Whilst the ongoing vaccine programme continues to reduce the impact of the virus, there remains a long way to go before a significant proportion of the population have received both doses, and the third wave currently ramping up across Europe gives ongoing cause for a measured approach to re-opening. From 29 March, outdoor mixing of households has been permitted and from 12 April, at the earliest, non-essential retail, hairdressers and public buildings like libraries and museums will be permitted to open. Perhaps the date most pertinent to communal worship is from 17 May (at the earliest) when up to 30 people can attend weddings or other life events, like christenings.
We currently expect that we will be able to re-open the building for worship around or soon after 17 May, possibly for Pentecost (23 May). The detailed plans will be led by the stewards, with Naomi being kept informed as plans develop.
We know from our limited experience of re-opening for worship last autumn that there are several challenges relating to the capacity of our building and to the inclusion of all who wish to join us for worship. We may need to continue to offer a mix of either Zoom or Pre-recorded worship in parallel to "live" worship in the building. We also know that, whilst some people will be keen to re-start various activities, others may feel unable or uneasy about doing so. We therefore need to proceed at a pace that enables a sustainable re-opening and be prepared for flexibility as Governmental and Connexional guidance develops.
Before we re-open we will need to update our COVID-19 risk assessment and share this with the Circuit COVID-19 Action Group. Our priority will be to re-open for worship, though some activities - notably the uniformed organisations - may be able to re-start sooner due to their risk profile. For other activities we will need to take extra precautions, for example where food preparation is required or where a particularly vulnerable demographic is involved. These considerations will need to cover practical, pastoral and property issues. To ensure appropriate coverage of these areas, we propose to convene a dedicated COVID re-opening group to oversee the plans, and this group will aim to present its plans to Church Council at the 19th April Church Council meeting.
We will share more definite plans with you as they develop and look forward to the time when we can meet together, safely, in person again.
With every blessing,
Revd Naomi Cooke and Keith Norman