Christmas Letter from Revd Bryan Coates

To the Members of the Congregation of Salisbury Methodist Church

Dear Friends,

I am writing with an expression of real appreciation and gratitude.

To say that this year has been a difficult one is an enormous understatement. The Coronavirus pandemic has brought very large repercussions on a world-wide scale and we have not had to cope with such devastation and change in so many ways for a long, long time. The foundations of our society seem to have been shaken and the tremors have been keenly felt in church. Add to that the sad and troubling fact for us, as both Church and Circuit,that David has been on sick leave for almost twelve months since early January.

We have coped. That is in no small measure down to a whole team of people. Once again,I amglad to pay tribute to Anna, whom the Circuit Leadership Team and I have asked to take overall responsibility for SMc during this uncertain period. Anna has willingly given an enormous amount of time, energy and devotion. Our Thanks also goto Valerie and the team of Stewards and Church Officers for their constancy and leadership; to Liz, Mike and David and to those who with them, have kept a watch on the routine of maintaining our Church and its property; to Nigel and Hilary who, with the financial commitment of our members, have kept rigorous eyes on our stability and ability to pay ourway; to Jim and the Covid 19 group who, with seemingly endless meetings after both lockdowns, have made the resumption of our Worship possible ;to Nick and Rob and the ‘Techy’ team who have explored the ways and means of streaming Services so that a much larger group of people have been enabled to share our Worship; to the group of Supernumerary Ministers who have offered their invaluable support; and, not least, Sandra and all the Pastoral Visitors who have supported and encouraged ourpeople through this past year.I t is a long list, and I could have included more, but I do want also to say  Thank You to every member of the congregation for your faithfulness and generosity. We are still Salisbury Methodist church.We have done more than just cope. We have learned new skills. This time last year few of us would have heard of Zoom let alone used it for meetings and conversations. Preachers, lay and ordained, have discovered streaming as a means of leading Worship. We are on the threshold of broadcasting live Services from the sanctuary so that an enlarged circle of worshippers can share in them even though they cannot be physically present.The Circuit has made available some low-key computer devices–and also some basic training in their use –to further extend this distanced participation in Worship.

It hasn’t been entirely ideal and, although there are promising and hopeful signs of a new beginning with the start of the roll out of the vaccine programme, we still have some issues to tackle. I am very concerned that we provide adequate support for Anna –and a reminder that she is only employed on a part-time basis –but also that we should find ways not to overburden our pastoral team. As I have written before, the care and safety of our people is paramount. I believe we must invest some time and effort and, if appropriate, some resources into this vital area of our Church’s work.

I turn the corner of the year with optimism. The President and the Vice President of the Methodist Church for this year have adopted as their ‘Watchword’ Johns Wesley’s phrase‘Best of all, God is with us.’That’s for us too as we move through Christmas and the good news of Christ’s Incarnation and on into the New Year.


Bryan CoatesActing Superintendent Minister