Methodist / United Reformed
The Beacon Church & Christian Centre, Dover
2004 at The Beacon Church and Christian Centre

The year 2004 was the first full year of The Beacon Church, and we held our first Baptism and first wedding services, as well as welcoming new members. We also invited a new Minister for September 2005, and we are pleased to say he accepted!

The year began with our Covenant Service on the first Sunday, 4 January.

The theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, was My Peace I Give To You, and the week started with an ecumenical service which was held at The Beacon on Sunday evening, 18 January. The preacher was the Rev Canon Ralph Godsall, Precenter of Rochester Cathedral, who stressed the need for Christians to build bridges between each other and with all sections of the community.

Our church was packed for the service which involved representatives from churches of different denominations throughout the area.

In his sermon, Canon Godsall said nothing was more important today than that the church should be numbered among the bridge builders. "Jesus Christ built a bridge between God and man, heaven and earth, giving a human face and an understanding of the divine,” he said. “We are called, as Christians, to build bridges between ourselves, for divisions between Christians have always cost lives and damaged the gospel.

“Our true Christian vocation is to be builders of peace. Jesus was at home with all manner of women and men, and he was particularly comfortable in the presence of children.” Jesus was a friend of all nationalities and sections of the community, and hostile to barriers that separated people from their neighbours. “The church should be a signal to the world of God’s new age, a bridge to new hope and vitality, and freedom for all.”

Canon Godsall spoke of the importance of small beginnings and small opportunities to grow together in new ways and the need to be more open and adventurous in Christian living. “We are each called to build these small and seemingly impossible bridges into the future and to work together not only for Christian unity, but for the healing and peace of the world.”

On Sunday 7 March, the first new members were welcomed to The Beacon Church. Kira Bramley, Colin Hadden, Colin Thompson and Ron Sutton all joined us by transfer.

On Mothering Sunday, we were pleased to welcome Sally Russell to lead our family service, which included our young people taking part in dance, drama and readings. Flowers were presented to all mothers attending the service.

We don't usually have evening services these days, but we have planned some special evening times of worship during the coming six months. The first one was on Sunday, 28 March, when we sang some of our favourite hymns, old and new. They included What A Friend We Have In Jesus, Be Still, The Lord's My Shepherd (sung to the tune of Amazing Grace), Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, and Summer Suns are Glowing. We also sang When I Needed A Neighbour, as a tribute to hymn writer Sydney Carter who died in March.

We congratulate our members who took part in the Finals of the Methodist District Festival at Maidstone in April, and won their various classes. Of the 16 finalists from The Beacon, eight were winners, returning with five trophies.On Good Friday, members of our church joined with Christians from other churches in Dover for the annual Procession of Witness through the town centre, culminating with three crosses being placed on the Western Heights, high above the town.

On Easter Sunday, 11 April, a Sunrise Service was held at on the hills overlooking the harbour and the English Channel.

The Easter services at our church were well attended and very inspiring.

Peter Booth passed his Local Preacher exams and his service of accreditation was held at The Beacon on Wednesday 5 May when the preacher was the chairman of the London South-East District, the Rev. Harvey Richardson. Long service certificates were also presented to two of our other local preachers, John Bates for 51 years' service and Rae Smith for 24 years. Stephen Robinson has been awarded a certificate for 31 years' service, but was unable to be with us at this service.

On Sunday, 23 May, a service took place to celebrate the covenant between the Anglican and Methodist churches.

We held our first Baptism at The Beacon on Sunday 6 June, when we welcomed Nathan Neary into the church family.

At our service on Sunday 13 June, we were delighted to welcome our former Methodist Minister, the Rev. Sid Robbins and his wife Jayne, and their sons Henry and Stirling, who were visiting from America. And we were very pleased when Jayne sang a solo, Hymn of Promise, at the start of the service. It was good to see them all again.

The Rev. Jeremy Dare conducted our service on Sunday, 27 June, for Guild Sunday when we celebrated the life and work of the Wesley Guild.

Beacon Amateur Dramatics performed two one-act comedies, "Blue Suede Shows" and "World Premiere", in June.

It was Port Sunday on Sunday 11 July is Port Sunday in Dover, and a special open-air service as held outside Dover Lifeboat Station at which some of our members attended and our Music Group led the singing.

We were pleased to welcome a group of young Germans to our church on Sunday, 18 July. They were staying in Dover before heading north to Manchester and the Peak District, and then across to North Wales and finally London.

We also held a Favourite Hymns service on Sunday evening, 18 July, when we sang a wide range of hymns and songs, from Abba Father to Great Is Thy Faithfulness, and Now Thank We All Our God to I'll Go In The Strength Of The Lord. Members of the congregation explained why these hymns were special to them.

On Sunday 26 September we held our annual meeting at which we appointed the stewards for the coming year, and heard about various plans for the future.

We held our first Junior Church Anniversary as The Beacon Church on Sunday 19 September. The theme for the morning service was Living Water, and the service was conducted by members of the Junior Church, with songs, poems, prayers, readings and a drama. Our Minister gave a series of short talks on the theme. The service was well attended, and we were pleased to welcome some visitors to the church for this anniversary.

We celebrated our Harvest Festival on Sunday 3 October when we welcomed the Rev. Bruce Allinson, from London, to conduct our service. The church was decorated with many flowers which have since been distributed to our members and friends who are unwell at the moment. The young people of the church brought gifts of food and fruit which were taken to the St. Martin's Emmaus Community in Dover after the service. Adults brought gifts of money to give thanks for the harvest, and these donations will be going to charity.

On Sunday 7 November, our Junior Church Prizegiving was included in the service, when Maureen MacDonald presented books to the children and young people in recognition of their attendance at Junior Church between September 2003 and August 2004.

We were delighted to welcome the Rev. Father Peter Sherred, a non-stipendiary minister in the Church of England, to The Beacon on Sunday 12 December to lead our worship. We are grateful to him for the message he brought us. In the afternoon, we held our Christingle Service.

In the run-up to Christmas, it is important that we remember others who are less fortunate than ourselves, and on Sunday 5 December, the young people of our church brought toys, books and games which they no longer need so that they can be sent to children in Chernobyl. The items have been handed over to the British Humanitarian Aid charity who will take them to those children.

Our church was packed for the Candlelight Carol Service on Sunday 19 December when favourite carols were interspersed with readings, solos, a duet and two songs by The Beacon Singers.

We held a Midnight Communion service on Christmas Eve, and a family service on Christmas Day. Both services were well attended. Our Church Hall was used to provide shelter and food for the homeless on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

During the year, we lost a number of our members and friends. Brian Jacobs, Betty O'Connell, Mary Page, Molly and Ossie Hodgson, Annie Taylor, Gwen Bates, Eileen Rolls, May Lancaster, Rose Croucher and Ron Pascall all died.

Brian had been a member of our church for many years, was secretary of our Guild, had been a church steward, and sang in the choir, of which he was treasurer.

Betty (and her husband Vic, who died a few years ago), had also been a member of our church for several years.

Gwen was another long-standing member of our church who maintained her interest in what was going on here, despite having to move to a residential home.

Mary, who was born in Brighton, came to Dover at the start of the First World War, and had been a member of our Tower Hamlets Church for many years.

Ossie was a long-serving member of our church who, with his wife Molly, moved away from Dover in April to be nearer their son in Devon. Sadly, Ossie died a couple of months later, in July, and Molly died on Christmas Day.

We remember their families and friends in our prayers.

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