Our year started with the Covenant Service on the first Sunday of January. We were pleased to welcome lay preacher Phil Reynolds to conduct our service for the first time the following week.
On Sunday 18 January, our all-age worship included a new song with words written by one of our members, Robert Uzzell-Childs, and set to music by our Minister, the Rev. Gordon Newton.
We joined with Christians from other churches in the town for the various services and events which took place during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Women's Service was held at The Beacon when Elaine Newton was the speaker. We also hosted one of the coffee mornings at St. Mary's Parish Centre where our Minister led the prayers.
Our Junior Church has a dedicated team of leaders who prepare sessions each Sunday for children. We would like to have more children attending, so we organised a taster session and coffee morning on Saturday 31 January when we invited any children or young people to come along, accompanied by their parents, to find out what is on offer. The response may not have been great, but we had an interesting morning - and we would be pleased to see any children or young people any Sunday morning at 10.30 a.m.
It was good to see so many family and friends at our service on Sunday 19 April for the baptism of Tia Storm Friend, the youngest member of a family who go back several generations in our church.
And we welcomed Richard Barnard, from Porchlight, who spoke about the work the charity does among homeless people in Dover.
We launched a whole series of activities in Footprints, our newly-refurbished centre on London Road, ranging from craft groups to story-telling and reading groups, a youth coffee bar to English Conversation sessions. Craft Group (Thursdays from 10am to 12 noon), Children's Reading and Story Group for 5 to 9 year-olds (Thursdays at 3.30pm), Family Craft Group (Saturdays at 1pm) and Youth Coffee Bar (Saturdays at 5pm) - all during term time only. Details of all the Footprints activities are in the "activities" section of this website.
We had good attendances at our Footprints open days on 7 and 11 May.
Work progressed throughout the year on phase two of the redevelopment scheme - including a new reception for Footprints. The former choir room was demolished on London Road, together with the steps leading to the flat and to the organ gallery, deep excavations took place and piling was completed for the new building work. The extra work meant an increase in the cost of the scheme and we are very grateful for all the funding we received, including the Methodist District who responded generously to our situation. We look forward to this phase of the scheme being completed.
Our thanks to everyone who supported our coffee morning and table top sale on Saturday 6 June which raised £340 and also all those who supported our coffee morning in aid of Action for Children on Saturday 11 July, which raised more than £80.
Mr. Michael Baybutt conducted our service on Action for Children Sunday, 12 July, on the theme "It's About Time!" when we gave thanks for the work of the charity and reflected on how we are challenged to devote our time to God and to serve people in our community, near and far.
"You Are The Light Of The World" was the theme of our service on Sunday 16 August, led by Ben Robinson, who challenged us to be Christ's light in the various situations we find ourselves in. Among the issues mentioned was the asylum seeker/refugee situation in Calais, just 21 miles away from us across the Channel, which was featured on the BBC television programme "Songs of Praise" that evening. Certainly plenty to think about, and to challenge us in our daily living.
Our thanks to everyone who contributed to our Harvest Festival on Sunday 27 September. It was a good celebration of the gifts that God gives to us, and a reminder that we are stewards of His creation. The harvest produce, and some financial gifts, were taken to the St Martin Emmaus in Dover, where the companions and staff gratefully received it.
On Saturday, 10 October, we held a coffee morning in Footprints in aid of the church mini-bus fund. The mini-bus is used to bring some of our elderly and less mobile members to our Sunday services, weekday meetings and other special activities. But, like all vehicles, it is expensive to run, and we need more funds to help keep it on the road. We are grateful to everyone who supported the coffee morning, and those who made donations afterwards, too, raising more than £120.
At our all-age worship on Sunday 15 November, we started by remembering those affected by the terrorist attack in Paris. The service included the Junior Church prizegiving, with the youngsters receiving books in recognition of their attendance during the past year. Our thanks to Glenys Jeff who presented the prizes and gave an excellent talk. The youngsters also bought toys, games, books and other items which are being passed on to British Humanitarian Aid to be taken to less fortunate children in Ukraine. And we received and dedicated dozens of Love In A Box boxes which will also be delivered to children in other countries in time for Christmas.
It was good to see so many people at our Christmas services, including the carol service on Sunday 20 December, the Christmas Eve Holy Communion and the Christmas Day family service. Thanks to everyone who donated to Action For Children over the Christmas period - we raised more than £200.
We welcomed the Rev. Dr. Paul Glass, chaplain at Kent College, to lead our worship for the first time on Sunday 27 December.
During the year we mourned the passing of one of our oldest members, Nora Watson, who was 95, as well as Nellie Finnis, Betty Sweetman and Rae Smith. Nora and Nellie had both attended our church for many years, but had been in care homes for some time. Betty was a much-loved member of the Beacon since moving here, to live with her son and daughter-in-law, from her home in Cornwall. Rae was a long-serving member of London Road Methodist Church and then the Beacon and she had been a lay preacher since 1980. We remember their families in our prayers.