Faith al Fresco!

The Meon Valley circuit again held its annual Faith al Fresco event, this year run by Pete Wall, Andy Hallam and team at Bishop’s Waltham United Free Church. The theme was “Who is my neighbour?” Donations were in aid of HomeStart Hampshire. Fun and activities  included a bouncy castle, prayer tent, crafts, lots of refreshments, bacon butties, and of course cakes of all sorts! The weather was perfect and an answer to prayer after the previous day’s washout. Tizz and Peter Castle spoke and we acted out Open the Book’s  ‘The Good Samaritan’ with lots of dressing up of excitable children. About 60 people attended – a wonderful day.

Free trees for your community

We want to make sure everybody in the UK has the chance to plant a tree. So we’re giving away hundreds of thousands of trees to schools and communities. Together, we'll get millions more trees in the ground.

New homes for your unwanted books!

Christian books: 

Book Aid Charitable Trust will be very grateful to receive   books, as long as they are in good condition and fit with our guidelines (below). Please sort through the books carefully before donating.

We have Collection Points in Verwood, Wokingham, Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth
 and Chippenham.


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Growing church moves online

A BASINGSTOKE methodist church which has been serving the community for more than 100 years has closed its building's doors permanently after moving its services online.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, lockdown meant the building had to close and services were instead held on Zoom.   

Now, the church has decided to close the building and hold its services online permanently, rebranding as Church of the Living Stream, attracting a wider audience - even global! Read the full story here:

Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust - 2023 Ride and Stride

Rosemary Fletcher and James Rowley cycled on Saturday 9th September 2023. If you would like to donate to our JustGiving page:

Half the moneys we are raising goes to Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust and half to Amesbury Methodist Church. Thank you to those of you who have already donated. On our website you can see which churches we visited but we have put below the 4 Circuit churches which we cycled to - Amesbury Methodist Church are now a part of the organisation. We would encourage all Circuit Churches to consider being a part of this event but you need to register in good time for 2024 with Keith C. Rayward on WHCT Ride & Stride Administrator 01380 831199 or 07527 618998

Circuit Ride and Stride.pdf

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Eco District Award!

Through the hard work of the District Eco team and with thanks to our churches and circuits the Southampton District has achieved its Bronze Award from A Rocha!

Church turns inside out for a day – ‘Faith al Fresco’

Bishop’s Waltham United Free Church hosted a “fresh air” church fun day during schools’ last half term week. Called ‘Faith al Fresco’the event was held in the grounds of Bishop’s Waltham Jubilee Hall. There was an ever popular bouncy castle and children’s activities under the theme of “Remember the Rainbow”. In the craft tent children made animal masks which they were able to wear later in Noah’s Ark. Older visitors were catered for too. In all some 90 people came along to enjoy the fun on a lovely sunny May day. Apparently 109 bacon butties, endless cakes and gallons of tea and coffee were served during the day, all free; but the donation box allowed gifts to be forwarded to the local ‘Revitalise’ charity shop.

The rainbow features in the story of Noah, his Ark and the flood. This was all acted out in an ‘Open the Book’ performance by grown ups and children. There was a seemingly life-sized Noah’s Ark which the kids could get into and pretend to be animals and members of Noah’s family. It all got rather chaotic but great fun. Finally the rainbow came out and fulfilled God’s promise.

Rev Andrew de Ville, Chair of the Southampton Methodist District and acting Superintendent of the Meon Valley Methodist District came along to support the event. The vicar of St Peter’s church Bishop’s Waltham, Rev James Hunt also came along and gave a presentation to everyone.

Gold EcoChurch Award to Mortimer Methodist Church

Congratulations to Mortimer Methodist Church who have become the 37th recipient of a Gold Award and the 6th within Methodism. One of the many plaudits from the review team who visited the church was: "Inspiring engagement with your local community as part of the Greening Mortimer Initiative - it’s so wonderful to see and hear the church being part of such community projects.”

The Ballad Of Wickham Festival

Wickham Festival this year was great A marvellous countryside Hampshire fete And as before at this event People came to our Elemental Tent

Our Meon Valley Methodist Circuit Went along to make it work – It was manned by people by the ton Who came along to have some fun

The rain came down and the music loud Nevertheless we gathered quite a crowd The mud this year was very thick But our refreshments did the trick

We spoke, we nattered - to all we chatted We offered tea and we were flattered Along came kids with Mums and Dads For crafts and freebies that we had

We even had a harvest festival With hymns, readings and to cap it all we gave fruit away to all those passing It made them smile - and we were laughing

With Jesus there at our Tent Elemental Made such a difference and this event’ll Make many memories for all to remember With fondness in the dark of December

Local family's experience of helping a Ukrainian family

It is good to know that Methodists locally and across the world have provided prayers and support for the situation in the Ukraine. Sadly, there are so many situations in the world requiring our prayers, support and donations and as each hits the headlines, there is a danger that other equally well deserving causes drop off the radar.

I find that the situation in the Ukraine remains high on my agenda and in my thoughts as myself and my husband decided to offer a home to Ukrainian visitors.

Whilst this may not be possible for people for many reasons, space, location, regular family visitors or commitments, for us it was more a question of "Why not?"

I thought it might be helpful to share our experience, which has been a positive one as it may encourage more people to see it as a possibility and make further enquiries. A recent discussion with a friend who is in regular correspondence with a resident of Kiev, highlighted the passion of the Ukrainian people to continue the war to ensure their independence from the aggression of Russia. Without doubt this will be a longer conflict than we would wish and more people will flee the country requiring refuge in friendly countries.

The actual administrative process for obtaining Ukrainian visitors is streamlined now and should not present too many difficulties, although impossible I would think without access to a computer. I must highlight the services of the Ukrainian Dorset Community (based in Bournemouth) who have worked tirelessly to assist hosts with applications, match them with known friends and family in Ukraine and ease the process of Visa application and introduction to families. The community is providing social events for the visitors and practical assistance and advice.

Additionally, Dorset Council and I believe Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch Council have provided support, information and prompt financial assistance to hosts and visitors.

There are now a network of support groups developing throughout the area to offer friendship and support to hosts and the new communities arriving in the area.

Our own visitors, a 53 year old Mum who is an English teacher and a 16, now 17 year old young man, have proved to be easy house guests who have accepted help but generally wishing to be independent in their new home. Our Mother is an able, charming and kind person, a Christian in the Orthodox Church, who has joined me at Upton Church. She has been keen to find appropriate employment, but firstly to obtain a College Course for her son. He has now found a place at Brockenhurst College.

It has been humbling to hear the experiences of my guests and to share with their upset and grief for the loss of family and friends and dealing with the uncertainty of the future. Memorably we had a conversation with our guest's husband who emotionally expressed his gratitude for us welcoming his family into our home.

I have been grateful to all my friends who have offered practical and emotional support. It has been amazing those who have wanted to help.

At the moment our guests have returned to Romania to visit family remaining there, but we are in close contact and expect them to return soon.

Please do consider if you could offer a home to a Ukrainian family or indeed have friends who may wish to do this. I would be pleased to offer support if I can. Do maintain Ukraine, the war and its people remaining there and displaced by the war in your prayers.

Teresa Neal

If you are affected by this article, or it has encouraged you to consider hosting a family, Teresa would be happy to talk to you – please get in touch for further details.

Outreach? Let’s Celebrate More!

Perhaps we as churches, particularly those in the rural areas, do not celebrate enough our outreach into the local community. In different ways we bring God’s word and his grace to our neighbours in our community by “ekklesia” *– the meetings we have in our church halls, our schools, and our communications we encourage between those outside our immediate congregations. We are outreaching to those who may not know Jesus directly.

At Swanmore Methodist Church we have these activities:

  • Coffee and Company – weekly. About 25 people, mainly ladies, come along and it’s proving very successful. It is a point in the week where people can come and chat in a warm and friendly place (or in Christian terms “Enjoy fellowship”). There is plenty of knitting, crocheting, coffee and biscuit consuming, not to mention a lot of chatter.   
  • Men’s Group – monthly. An evening group, where 20 plus men meet, is also successful. We ask for speakers who have come along to speak on topics including Metal detecting, Climate change, Solent Wrecks, the Ukraine. So far we have managed to get speakers to come along for free, but we have donated funds to charities. We’ve found people love to come along to talk abut what they have done. You just have to ask (but you have to ask in person – we’ve found this is best)
  • Tuesday Ladies’ Club – or TLC for short (and we all need a little TLC…). This is an evening talk, monthly. Again, interesting speakers come along to talk to some 30 ladies. There’s a small donation and most speakers are paid. Sometimes men are specially invited to topics which may be of interest to members of the male species. Men’s Group offers similar invitations to the ladies too.
  • Open the Book (OtB) – Monthly. We have just re-started OtB at Swanmore Primary School. OtB is run under the Bible Society and is an outreach activity where Bible stories are acted out within primary schools. We present these in front of the assembled children and teachers - about 350 children and 10 teachers. There is a Christian Union in this school and they all really enjoy watching and participating. OtB is very popular throughout the UK – see their website if you’d like to start up.

This adds up to a monthly outreach to, say, 500 people who may not be in church on Sundays, but still attend our “Ekklesia” and receive our fellowship.

At our Circuit Level we have our ‘Meon Valley Repair Café’ at Waltham Chase Methodist Church. Here we can barely keep up with demand – again monthly with a real buzz, as you almost climb over people trying to get their portable items repaired or just enjoying coffee, bacon butties and - yes: fellowship.

Then once a year there’s our Elemental Tent at Wickham Music Festival, and Faith Al Fresco outside at Bishop’s Waltham. We are only 5 churches in our Circuit but we want to Come on and Celebrate..our Outreach.

Martin Letts

Meon Valley Circuit Steward

*Ekklesia – it’s the Greek word for “meeting place” of the early churches, hence “ecclesiastical” etc.

Meon Valley Repair Café at the BBC Make a Difference Award Ceremony

Meon Valley Repair Café members Sam Charles, Neil Ellen, Mark (“Tizz”) Tizzard and Martin letts attended the prestigious BBC Make a Difference Award Ceremony at Portsmouth Guildhall on 20 September and were awarded a Commendation in the Environmental category. Although not overall winner in their category they had been invited to the finalists’ tea party at the Guildhall with over a hundred other volunteers who were making a difference. Personalities such as Dame Ester Ransom, Chris Packham and Hugh Bonneville were the celebrity judges, who thanked everyone for their good work helping others. BBC Director-General Tim Davie also thanked everyone for their work.

MWiB Southampton District Partnerships


Every other year in our District the MWiB committee puts together an overseas partnership and encourages the women of our District to be involved. We built a partnership with a village in Fiji that suffers with flooding through climate change. We raised money to buy a boat to help evacuate the village in times of flooding.

It was with great joy that we heard on Friday 28th October that a boat was handed over to the women of Vanuakula. This included an outboard motor and accessories including life jackets. To ensure the women are safe and competent to use the boat they have had training. Now when a cyclone hits their village they are able to escape to the safely of an Evacuation Centre on higher ground. In good weather they are able to use the boat to go fishing and supplement their income. The pictures show the handover of the boat, which was attended by the villager, church leaders and civic dignitaries.

We have truly blessed this community in Fiji with the gift of love.


Our next partnership is with two Orphanages in Romania. One has been established a while and supports mainly Roma children. The other was set up earlier this year when a Ukrainian Orphanage in Kyiv was evacuated because of the war. A memory stick has been produced with a PowerPoint presentation explaining the financial struggle these Orphanages are having and our support for them.

Please contact Glenda Sidding by email for more information of how you can support this partnership.

Deacon Glenda Sidding

Hedge End Methodist Church Tree planting December 2022

Back in January this year, we made a proposal to Hedge End Town Council explaining that we would like to plant a tree as part of our process of becoming an ECO friendly Church. We do not have space on our own land. Therefore we wanted to plant on the recreation ground opposite our Church.  This we achieved on Tuesday 6thDecember 2022.

We had three reasons for wishing to do this.

  • Noting that the Queen’s Green Canopy project was encouraging individuals and groups to plant trees, the Hedge End Methodist Church wanted to get involved.
  • It is also one aspect of our engagement in the ECO-friendly church campaign run by the international environmental group We have recently gained a Silver Award under this scheme.
  • In addition, as President (2016-2022) of the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women, whose logo is the Tree of Life, I was encouraging women around the world to plant trees in their locality. I wanted like to lead by example.

We have been very grateful to Brett Athow, Operations Manager at Hedge End Town Council for his assistance in sourcing this Wild Service Tree (from Hillier Nurseries, Ampfield near Romsey) and organising its planting. Also known as SORBUS TORMINALIS, this deciduous tree is native to the UK but now not as common as it used to be. It can grow to heights of 15 metres (50ft). The glossy leaves, similar to those of a maple, turn from mid-green to glorious russets and reds in the autumn.

So members of Hedge End Methodist Church have great pleasure in donating this tree for the enjoyment of the whole community and thank Hedge End Town Council for caring for it.

Photos attached. Credit: Rev Anthony Parkinson

3 Generate 2022

3Generate is the Methodist Children and Youth Assembly. This year it was at Birmingham NEC 30th Sept to 2nd Oct. They welcomed up to 2000 young people aged 4-23 years to come along and tune in and identify the presence of God throughout the Connexion and the world around us.
The Basingstoke and Reading circuit were extremely lucky to take 22 young people and two parents. We pray we can take more next year and that is possible through the generosity of so many. Our video is below and hopefully shows our gratitude and hope for the future.