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Circuit Service 15th March

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The small church at Pogmoor seemed to have been blessed with elastic walls when worshipers from all around the circuit turned up at the service to share in the recognition service of Janet Steele as a Local Preacher.

The service was in the hands of the Superintendent Minister, Rev. Mick Neal, and he opened with a verse from psalm 68, "The Lord gave the Word, and great was the company of the preachers." an appropriate comment judging by the number of local preachers who came to support Janet. This was followed by a formal declaration of the purpose of the service, underlined by the look of joy and anticipation on Janet's face.

Whether by accident or design the opening hymn referred to God as the 'Mother of the whole creation', an appropriate term for Mother's Day, which Sunday it was. For Janet's service it was also apt that most of the prayers and scripture readings were given by female preachers.

Prayers proclaiming God's glory and of confession followed by the collect were given by Rev. Eileen Sanderson, after which she read the Old Testament lesson from the Book of Numbers , and after the hymn "Give thanks with a grateful heart" it was the turn of Barbara Tewson to read the next lesson , the Epistle, from Paul's letter to the Ephesians.

The last of the three Bible readings was in the hands of Janet Lowrie. Janet read from St. John's Gospel chapter 3, which told of Jesus' encounter with Nicodemus. It refers to the bronze serpent, which Moses lifted up and to which Jesus likened his forthcoming sacrifice.

Mick's sermon which followed was entitled "By the Grace of God". His theme was based on the responsibility of preachers to offer the Grace of God to their hearers as the brazen serpent was lifted up ,for a similar purpose ,to find cleansing and healing.

After the sermon the hymn "Show me how to stand for justice" was sung, the principal purpose of the service began. Elizabeth Haigh, the Local Preachers' Meeting Secretary, then presented Janet, using the formal wording set out in the Methodist Worship Book. The Superintendent then set out the calling and duties of a local preacher, followed by questions on her willingness to be faithful in the various responsibilities of her calling, to which she gladly answered "With God's help, I will."

Elizabeth Haigh then called on all the Local Preachers present (and there was a goodly number )to affirm their ministry by standing, after which the congregation was asked to stand and the Super offered prayers for all local preachers and for Janet in particular.

Janet was then presented with a Bible as a sign of her authority as a preacher.

Elizabeth Haigh read the letter from the President of the Methodist Conference and presented it to Janet. The Superintendent and the Local preachers' Secretary then formally offered the hand of friendship to her. Janet spoke of her calling as a preacher and the various hurdles she overcame. Her favourite hymn, "The Spirit lives to set us Free." was then sung. Elizabeth Haigh then led prayers of intercession, after which the offering was taken for L.W.P.T.

A surprise item then followed, when Eddie Hambleton was presented l with a certificate for 50 years service as a local preacher, and he spoke of his calling and the rewards which his service had brought him.

The service ended with the singing of the hymn "And can it be." The Benediction was then pronounced by the Superintendent.

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