Middleham Methodist Chapel- Circuit Statement
11th January 2019
During 2017 Middleham Methodist Chapel marked 220 years of Methodist witness in the town; celebrating the heritage of Methodism that began in the Dales in Middleham in 1797. People from the local community assisted the members in offering a display of pictures, correspondence and historical timeline showing the story of Methodism throughout the years.
The event was attended and appreciated by many folk from near and far, demonstrating the significant interest in which people held this heritage. It proved a great encouragement to the remaining folk regularly attending worship in the chapel.
However, in the months following this occasion, both membership and attendance at the chapel has continued to decline, with congregation attendance often only reaching single figures.
The Church Council meetings held during 2018 attempted to address these challenges, but creative ways forward have proved difficult to implement with insufficient folk able to hold office and mobility of others becoming restricted.
It was acknowledged that charitable concerts often held in the chapel, greatly benefitted from the excellent piano and acoustics offered by the building. However, these events did not result in increased regular attendance at worship services and the practicalities of continuing to hold such events sadly became overburdensome for those involved.
And so the time came, with great regret, and after much prayer and reflection by those involved, that Middleham Methodist Church sought permission to cease to worship as a Methodist Society.
The annual Christmas concert with East Witton Male Voice choir took place in December, in front of a packed chapel of appreciative folk and a final carol service was held in the chapel before Christmas. A United Coverdale Covenant service was held in Middleham on 6th January 2019, when almost 40 people gathered to recommit their lives to the work of God in this community, where people were encouraged to hear the words from Jeremiah, as he spoke to the exiles, that God has not forgotten them and we remain confident that He will do something far greater than we can ever think or imagine in this place.
The closing service took place in the chapel on Sunday February 3rd 2019, when Rev David Wood spoke with great empathy to those gathered. The building is now under the oversight of the North Yorkshire Dales Circuit Property Committee, whilst members of the Circuit meeting deliberate on the best course of action to take with the property.
Rev Janet Park
on behalf of Middleham Methodist Chapel members