The Gunnerside Methodist Chapel midsummer festival was an appropriate occasion to mark Mrs Mary Clarke's 50 years as a Local Preacher. The service began with Community Hymn singing led by Mr Andy Souter and the Gunnerside Choir. The Rev David Wood led the service and reminded us that 50 years ago the first ATMs appeared in the UK, the first colour television broadcast came to our screens and the Beatles released 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'; which by my reckoning made it 90 years ago that Sgt Pepper taught us how to play.
150 years ago, back in 1867, the existing chapel building was opened as we were reminded by Andy Souter reading from Margaret Batty's book. Back in those days congregations were numbered in hundreds at Gunnerside, sadly a hundred or so is now only reached on 'special' occasions.
So, it seemed pertinent that David Wood should pick up on the call of all Christians to ask people we know to come and meet Christ; to "gossip the gospel". We need to see beyond the buildings, systems and finances of a chapel to find the person of Christ. So, he suggested, we also need to think about our own walk with Christ, those encounters with him that have shaped our own lives.
He went on to ask in this digital age is there still a place for preaching? Yes, he claimed, when three factors are present; a God who loves; a preacher alert to the spirit of God; and an attentive listener; only then will preaching have relevance to our situations.
Mary Clarke was presented with a certificate and went on to tell her story of how she became a preacher and some anecdotes from her time as a Local Preacher.
We finished with the hymn 'Go Forth and Tell' a challenge for us to tell our stories to those around us. As the Beatles said, "I get by with a little help from my friends", who knows what will happen over the next 50 years by being a friend to those around us.