CHURCH PROFILE OF MINSHULL VERNON UNITED REFORMED CHURCH.
WHERE IS OUR CHURCH?
Minshull Church is located in the parish of Minshull Vernon, Crewe, Cheshire. Set in the countryside, it is approximately 4 miles north of Crewe town centre and a mile and a half from Leighton hospital. It lies in a sparsely populated area consisting of farmhouses and cottages. We have been on this site for 206 years, positioned on a severe bend on a ‘B’ road from Bradfield Green, Crewe to Winsford.
There is space for three cars at the front of the Church. Fortunately we are also able to park on a quieter road and our near neighbour is kind enough to allow us to use his premises for parking when necessary.
At present our building is mainly used for services and for fellowship following the worship. From time to time we do have social gatherings in the adjoining room. Recently, we have made it available for the regular meeting of the Cheshire Agricultural Chaplaincy. We offer the use of our premises to them completely free of any charge as part of our service to the community.
In our vicinity we have two Church of England Churches; St Peter’s is approximately 2 miles away, and St Bartholomew’s is in Church Minshull Village, approximately half a mile away. We have a close relationship with members of St Peter’s and their Vicar has played the organ for us when we had traditional Wednesday morning services. We have had some united services in the past but not recently.
The nearest Churches Together group is in Crewe. There are no other free churches for several miles, but we have close relationships with the United Reformed Churches in Middlewich and at Over, Winsford. We often support each other’s events. There are no schools in the area with which to form links.
.WHO ARE WE?
Number of members 10 Number of adherents 1
We have an average attendance of 80% plus.
Ages ranging from 70 to over 90
In the last 5 years we have received two members by confession of faith and one member by transfer. One of our members has died.
Baptisms 6 Weddings 5
8 members and adherents live approx. 3-5 miles away
2 members live approx. 5 miles away
1 member lives approx. 1 mile from church.
We have 3 serving elders and 4 non-serving elders but being a small congregation we all serve together.
Our door is open for worship on three out of four Sundays and one Wednesday of each month. The Wednesday service takes the form of Café Worship and is held at 11.30 a.m. in the adjoining room.
Sunday worship is at 6.30 p.m. from April to September and at 2.30 p.m. from October to March
Communion usually takes place on the third Sunday of the month.
Each service is followed by a time of fellowship in the adjoining room over a cup of tea when we catch up on family news.
Worship is led by the Minister, retired Ministers and Lay Preachers.
Occasionally one of our members will lead the service and involve others from the congregation. These are very popular. The congregation are also pleased to participate by reading the scriptures on most Sundays. During the year we hold our Anniversary service, Harvest festival, Salvation Army service and have a visiting choir. These special celebrations are usually followed by our renowned ‘Minshull Tea’.
Recently we have introduced a Good Friday service and Christmas morning service. These have been led by a member of our congregation.
As a congregation we are not set in our ways, in either our services or outlook. The Café-style worship at our Wednesday morning service has now become a regular part of our church life. We enjoy the modern approach to services along with the more traditional. We are always ready to look at new ways of worshipping. We would like to be seen as positive and dynamic in our church and faith, without exaggerating our abilities. Our building is adorned with floral displays and fresh flowers at each service.
Seating is the conventional pews; which have a very comfortable thick foam seating pad. Each pew has a Church bible available.
We also take our worship outside the church when we regularly go to The Elms Care Home in Crewe, leading a short act of worship and then chatting with the residents. We consider the time spent chatting with the residents as important as the worship.
We all care for each other, especially during illness or when there is a problem. Lifts to church are given weekly. After the service we take the fresh flowers to the people who live nearby as a token of friendship. With these we attach a small card with a message from the Church. On several occasions we have had a note in the church letter box thanking us for our timely show of friendship.
We support Commitment for Life and the Missionary Aviation Fellowship. Each year we hold a service for the Salvation Army Christmas Appeal service. At this service toys and the offertory money is donated to them. This service attracts over 30 worshippers. Our Harvest Festival also attracts extra worshippers. Over the past two years we have donated half our offering to the Agricultural Chaplaincy and we now give some of the produce to the Food Bank. Some of our members support the Food Bank each week. The church also responds to Emergency Appeals.
Our prayer/post box outside the front door is used by passers-by who are experiencing difficulties in their lives and have requested us to pray for them.
SPREADING THE NEWS
On the outside front wall of the building we have a banner with a statement or question to give passing motorists something to think about. At the moment it says, ‘Are you ready for the journey?’ This message is changed each year.
We take to our neighbours flowers, the Good News Paper, a Christmas gift and, more recently, Palm Crosses. All are tokens of friendship. The response varies from openness and welcome to diffidence – we treat them all the same in the love of Jesus.
Our services and events are publicised by leaflet drops, posters, and letters mailed to regular contacts. We also have a web-site.
Various members are involved in community groups, U3A, Choirs and card making. Some of our members attend Keswick Convention. Others lend a hand each year at the Salvation Army Christmas appeal distribution.
The Good News Newspaper is also distributed amongst our contacts and friends. We have had speakers from GEAR, MAF and the Agricultural Chaplaincy. We have supported Embrace and CARE, and are currently supporting the Missionary Aviation Fellowship.
Church meetings are held every two months on a Sunday, either before or following a service. Any item that needs attention between our Church meetings can be discussed after a Church service during refreshments.
Elders meetings are not normally called separately as almost all matters can be discussed openly at the church meeting. For many years the church has operated without elders having a term of office but serving indefinitely. As a result the majority of church members were serving elders. Recently, the church decided that we only need three serving elders for such a small church as Minshull, and that the period of service will be for three years. Those elders have now been formally elected.
The church meeting continues to be the place where almost all discussions and decisions take place.
WHAT ARE WE HERE FOR?
Our mission statement is ‘Praise and worship to maintain the love and atmosphere which reflects the love of God. We shall constantly pray for the continuance of our Church’
During last Local Ministry and Mission Review a questionnaire concerning the purpose of our church was issued to the congregation.
Our top six questionnaire results were as follows:-
· To join together in praise and worship.
· To be a Holy place.
· To be a meeting place for friends.
· To survive (in order to continue our work).
· To tell others the Good News.
· To serve and care for others.
We feel we have moved on quite considerably over the past ten years, reaching out more beyond the Church walls. Due to the size of our Church and the ages of the members we feel at times that we cannot take on anything else. We do rise to a challenge and are receptive to new ideas.
One of our hopes is to see the Church building used more by the community. Our church building is now being used by the Cheshire Agricultural Chaplaincy for their monthly meetings. In appreciation of the free use of our buildings they have used a grant to re-decorate the room they use and have provided new lightweight tables and comfortable chairs.
RESOURCES AND OPPORTUNITIES
We have a small but deeply committed congregation who are willing to get involved in any work that God is calling us to do. We have an attractive church with a traditional feel in a beautiful country setting. This appeals to some people who travel from the towns to our special services.
There are opportunities to build up relationships with our neighbours and to share our Christian faith with those who attend our special services and occasional social gatherings. The anomaly is that most of those who visit us are already churchgoers and not new soil for seeds.
WHERE ARE WE GOING?
We continue to develop a greater desire for personal faith. For six years we had a bible study and a prayer meeting. Our constant prayer is for new people to walk through our door and to this end we have experimented with producing and distributing a newsletter for our neighbours.
In the latter years we have made alterations to the entrance porch to make it lighter and more attractive. More recently the outside of our building has been redecorated and new sign boards erected giving it a much brighter look. Also we placed a large cross on the gable end which can be clearly seen from a considerable distance by motorists driving from Crewe. The garden at the front is kept tidy by members. During 2014/15 the stained glass windows on the front of the church were restored one at a time. The inside of the building has been redecorated. The installation of our first sound system in 2011 made a wonderful improvement. The colourful pew cushions were all made by members of the church as a special project to make the church more comfortable for everyone who came to worship, especially visitors.
For our first Christingle service in 2012 we sent out invitations to families who have had their children christened at Minshull. We attracted more people to our Carol service by announcing we would be having ‘Carols round the Tree’ and refreshments by Candlelight.
During 2013 we opened a Charity shop in Crewe for three months which proved to be very successful, raising over £3000. This was divided between our Church and a charity’s safe house for local women and children. In May 2014 we hosted a ‘Day of Prayer’ led by Sally Willett, looking at ways and ideas on how to pray. In the same month we planted poppy seeds to commemorate the start of the 1914/18 war. Last year we welcomed our new Moderator and her family, when she led worship.
HOW WILL WE GET THERE?
Through our constant prayer.
Through encouragement in our faith and confidence in our adventure with God.
By being positive and not reflecting on the past.
By looking at new ideas for services.
By keeping contact with those who come to our special celebrations, and with those who have brought their children for baptism.
Maintain the building so that we look active, vibrant and interesting.
By continuing to publicise our activities well,
through word of mouth,
through personal invitations and
through our church website. www.minshullchurch.urc.org.uk.
What kind of Minister would we like?
§ An able preacher and worship leader
§ Someone who will inspire and encourage us to be disciples of Jesus
§ A minister who offers good pastoral care
§ Someone with a concern for outreach and evangelism
§ Someone who is willing to work in our community