What's New?

Be a Trustee

Would you like to be a Trustee? If so, we would be delighted to hear from you to help us to continue the remarkable legacy of The Countess of Huntingdon. 

The Countess, Lady Selina Shirley, founded The Connexion in the 18th Century, using her own resources to build churches and train preachers who could spread the Gospel as far and wide as possible. Selina was highly respected by all levels of society, from royalty to slavery. She possessed great courage and used it to challenge and break the rules of what was an intensely patriarchal and prejudiced social system.

Among her friends were celebrated advocates of the Methodist Revival, including John Wesley, Charles Wesley and George Whitfield, who shared her commitment to spreading the mission of Jesus.

The Connexion Today 

In the UK, The Connexion has a network of 22 churches, each of which has their own distinct personality that adds to a richness of the whole.

All of the churches are bound by caring for one another, a shared love of Jesus, and a strong desire to follow him and make disciples of others. The Connexion also has very strong links with churches and communities in Sierra Leone, which continues the legacy from the Countess of Huntingdon.

The Board of Trustees currently has five members: David Lockett (Chair), Simon Allaby, Ben Quant, Bethany Green and Graham Squibbs, who handles all the finances. They operate as a warm, friendly and vibrant team who do an amazing job for our churches and communities in the UK and Sierra Leone. Vacancies now exist for up to three new recruits, who can add their own brand of inspiration to the team. 

No formal qualifications are necessary, just a desire to follow and serve Jesus. And as a voluntary position, the amount of work contributed depends entirely on personal circumstances.  

Our Trustees keep in touch informally by email, phone and zoom, and when possible they meet at an agreed location (in the past, up to four times a year) for face to face meetings. The team's key focus is to help our churches to thrive and enable them to share the Gospel of Jesus with others.

To Apply

To apply to be a Trustee - or to find out more about what's involved - email David Lockett at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact any of our trustees or church leaders, who will be pleased to advise you.

We look forward to welcoming you on board. You will be joining a great team who are working to achieve an even greater purpose! 

Welcome to Turners Hill!

Earlier in the year Turners Hill Free Church called Peter James to be their pastor. 

Peter, his wife Sarah and their children have relocated from Christchurch near Bournemouth to Turners Hill. 

Peter is a graduate of Moorlands Theological College where he completed his BA (Hons) in Applied Theology. 

His wife, Sarah had been a secondary school teacher of science for the last 12 years. Sarah is now a housewife looking after baby Joel. 

They are settling in well to life in Turners Hill and the Church, whilst getting to love and serve the church and community. 

Peter advocates the importance of the proclamation of Christ Crucified for the forgiveness of sins as central to life and ministry of the Church. 

Please pray for Peter and his family as they settle in and that there will be much fruit as they serve the Lord Jesus. 

They also thank everyone at THFC and Connexions for their warm welcome and support. 

Easter Services

Over Easter, many of our Connexion churches streamed their services, podcasts and videos online. 

The recordings are available to our whole Connexion community as well as friends and families, so please click on the links to join in.

Church services

Worship music

Access is also available to The Lockdown Band website, which features songs, video and audio recordings: www.wormleylockdownband.com

Sermon recordings 

 

Alternatively, to find a Connexion church near you, click on Connexion Network.

Wishing everybody a very Happy Easter!

 

 

 

The Man on the Cross

The Man on the Cross is a new book of stories for Easter from Simon Allaby at Bolney Village Chapel.

Written for Christians and enquirers alike, the fifteen stories take the reader on a journey from Palm Sunday to the Sunday after Easter, reflecting on events, asking questions and giving an opportunity to respond.

The book could be ideal as a give-away for churches and individuals. Single copies cost £1 each and bundles of 15 copies are £10 (plus p+p). Please contact Simon for prices for bulk orders of more than 45 copies.

For more information or to place an order please click here to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Voice - Spring

Welcome to the Spring edition of The Voice, with contributions from far and wide, gathered by editor, Esther Green.

This issue features a Bible Study 'Who do you look like?' by Joel Allaby (yes, you guessed it, Simon Allaby's boy!). News from Sierra Leone includes thanks from Abdul and Mariatu from Bethesda Orphanage, an appeal for SLM church champions and a heart-felt testimony from Magnus Bendu about the Sierra Leone partnership with The Connexion. There is a word from David Lockett, Chair of the Trustees, and Bob Webb enlightens us with an article about Gladstone's Library.

Great stuff!

Click on the link below and enjoy reading.

The Voice - Spring

Life Space

Life Space takes place at Countess Free Church, Ely on Sunday 13 March at 7pm.  

The purpose of the evening is to create space for everyone to come together to praise, pray and be led by the Spirit. All are welcome to come and join in at whatever level suits – whether that is to be still and discover, worship and pray, or just be silent. 

The community at Countess Free Church are lively, charismatic, evangelical and welcoming to people of all ages. The church meets for regular services at 10.30am every Sunday. These gatherings are informal, lasting about 90 minutes, with something for everyone, followed by tea and coffee.

Families are very important and the church has facilities to cater for different age groups, including a crèche for babies and children under 3 years.

Life Space is an informal evening, open to all the churches, and there is no need to book. Just turn up – and join in!

Pray for Miracles

'I no Longer Pray for Peace' by Ann Weems

On the edge of war, one foot already in,

I no longer pray for peace:
I pray for miracles.

I pray that stone hearts will turn
to tenderness,
and evil intentions will turn
to mercifulness,
and all the soldiers already deployed
will be snatched out of harm's way,
and the whole world will be
astounded onto its knees.

I pray that all the 'God talk'
will take bones,
and stand up and shed
its cloak of faithlessness,
and walk again in its powerful truth.

 

I pray that the whole world might
sit down together and share
its bread and wine.

Some say there is no hope,
but then I've always applauded the holy fools
who never seem to give up on
the scandalousness of our faith:
that we are loved by God ...
that we can truly love one another.

I no longer pray for peace:
I pray for miracles.

Poem by Ann Weems (Presbyterian elder and poet)

Also click here to read Ben Quant's poetic response: Incomprehension

Photo: kevinstandagephotography

Hybrid services at Wormley

Like many of our churches, during the pandemic Wormley Free Church learned the advantages of being able to offer hybrid worship. In light of this, they plan to combine ‘face to face’ services for those who can attend with virtual streaming services.

Sunday morning gatherings have now resumed and are held at Wormley Community Centre, Fairfield Drive, starting at 10.30am. The services are informal and lively, with all generations joining in together. After a period of joint worship, young people leave for the creche and Sunday School.

The first Sunday of the month is an All-Age service where everyone remains together, and the second Sunday of the month features communion.

Alongside this, Wormley have also decided to continue to stream video recordings of the services with opportunities to interact, for those who are not able to join the community in person. All of these services will be archived so they can be viewed at any time. Click here to visit their live stream page.

 

God's work during Covid

The onset of Covid in March 2020, brought significant challenges for churches across the UK. Here, some of our Connexion churches explain their experiences during the worst of the pandemic, and God’s work throughout.

Broad Oak Chapel

Thoughts’ and messages from of one of our faithful speakers at the chapel, Rev. Geoffrey Collins. To keep our church family united, Polly, a congregation member, e-mailed us all scriptures each week, and Sarah, another member, gave everyone a book of daily scriptures highlighting 365 names of Jesus.

Once restrictions were eased on May 17 this year, we returned once more to morning services each Sunday, standing outside on the lane to sing our hymns, with a CD player set at full volume inside the chapel!

In the absence of a full-time minister, we turned to social media to find help with our weekly services, and were approached by Elim Oasis Church in nearby Broadstairs, which has led to the start of a monthly healing service. Our two churches have since worked together to have postcards made, which were distributed to every house in our village and beyond. The cards advertised our own Sunday services and the additional services offered by Elim Church, which has led to us welcoming a small increase in our congregation. It's early days, but we have been uplifted by this extra support and the opportunity it has given us to reach out to others, so they may come to know the Lord, and joyfully continuing to be part of God's mission here in Broad Oak.

Countess Free Church, Ely

Like many other churches we used Zoom, YouTube streams, podcasts and blogs for gatherings and making teaching available. In addition, we emphasised the opportunites of being 'small and versatile', holding small to mid-sized outdoor gatherings at the church, with several smaller gatherings happening in parallel at different green space locations around the city, plus interactive gatherings of one-family-per-table for all ages in the church building.

We put a strategic focus on 'family discipleship', sending out special resource packs to families in the church plus a few 'friends of' families. Alongside this we developed the language of 'micro-initiatives' - small grassroots initiatives that members can do with their neighbours, friends, colleagues etc. This has enabled us to connect and work with a number of different newcomers and enquirers. Through the months several newcomers have joined us in our different types of gathering, some have joined the church and we have had the privilege of leading a few to faith in Jesus. This diverse, in-the-small, relational approach has proved much more effective, and so we will be continuing to emphasise this even as the larger Sunday gatherings are now getting back into gear.

Goring Free Church

The pandemic has been a very strange time for us.  Covid brought a real ‘Hokey-Cokey’ feel to the church – ‘in-out, in-out’ – not to mention feeling as if we’ve been shaken all about! Through it all we have sought to maintain a presence, which at times has been no more than a recorded sermon posted on our YouTube channel. But mostly we have either been able to offer in-person services when allowed, or live-streaming when not, at times providing all three!

Many of our ‘in-house’ groups have also been able to continue meeting with the use of technology, which has been a real blessing. However, it doesn’t beat being able to meet up physically. Thus, we were delighted back in July to be able to ease many of the previous ‘restrictions’ and recommence a more ‘normal’ feel to our morning services and small group meetings, despite not running our evening services.

From September, most of our weekday activities have also been able to recommence, albeit in a slightly different format, and for this we thank God.  There remains a degree of uncertainty though, so we tentatively plan for the future, whilst praying that the Lord would use us for his glory in the present!

Hailsham Gospel Mission

The Lord has blessed us in many ways through various trials and joys since we came out of lockdown and started meeting on the first Sunday in August 2020.

  • Dave and Phyl Sweetman felt led to join the fellowship regularly that Sunday to help in leadership
  • Sadly Geoff Francis, our treasurer, died after a long struggle with cancer in September, and in June this year, as many in the Connexion will know, Ken Stone also went to be with the Lord, leaving another huge gap in our fellowship.
  • A year ago we often only had 5 or 6 folk attending on a Sunday morning with a number either choosing to shelter or too infirm to venture out. We are grateful to Gordon Hamilton for providing sermon notes for us to give those sheltering. More recently, the Lord has been adding to our number such that in recent weeks we have regularly had over 20 in fellowship.
  • We purchased a digital hymnal a year or so ago as we had no regular keyboard player but the Lord has provided Eddie Fletcher, a skilled organist of 50 years who now plays most Sundays.
  • In the last month or so, we started a Tuesday morning prayer meeting. This has proved to be an exciting time, with a growing attendance (currently up to 12 attend) all eager to seek the Lord’s guidance on how we should take the gospel to our community. Various ideas are being proposed.
  • We deliver about 400 Life magazines to local houses twice a year. Our building is used by two AA groups, a writers group and Hailsham Funeral Services (for parking).
  • More recently, the Connexion Trustees have sponsored Martin and Gudrun Brown to join us as a part time Development and Outreach worker. They started work on 1st September and have moved into rented accommodation in Hellingly. 
  • Under Christine Stone’s leadership we have packed about 130 shoe bags for the children in Sierra Leone.

We are thankful for the many mature Christians who have joined us and we are trusting that the Lord will bless us with new converts, who will grow into the future of Hailsham.

Rosedale Community Church

‘And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests.’ (Nehemiah 2:8)

We have been so aware of the gracious hand of God with us at Rosedale. There have been some very tough times since March 2020, with many people affected and bereaved by the Coronavirus and consequent fallout. But as we have continued to seek to honour Him, the Lord has been kind and faithful, and we are thrilled to say that we are so excited about where He is leading us.

The Spring of 2021 saw the long-awaited refurbishment of our leased building by the Council, allowing us to re-open with a beautiful ‘new’ hall to welcome back our community groups and outreach. In September 2021 we were delighted to have two young people, Joel and Becky, join our leadership team and already their ministry and service is making a difference. As folk from our congregation slowly return, we are thrilled to have new families joining us. Our prayer and hope is that we will fulfil our purpose in being a Christ centred community dedicated to impacting Cheshunt, our nation and beyond with the love of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sheppey Evangelical Church

It seems such a long time ago now, but when the first lockdown was implemented, we created a Sheppey Evangelical Church YouTube channel. I recorded a sermon for this each week and sent out a weekly ‘Prayer, News and Notices’ email to our congregation and a few people on the fringes, also printing a few for folk who don’t do the internet, and delivering them with a mask and gel!

As conditions eased we took the decision to meet up physically as soon as we could. It was really strange not being able to sing aloud, or share in Open Prayer, but at least I didn’t have to record a sermon in front of a camera! One or two people felt uncomfortable, which was totally understandable, but those who persevered became accustomed to the new quiet contemplative way of doing church. Numbers grew slowly and many people commented on how good it was to be still and listen to God.

I continued with the weekly email and added the sermon as an attachment for people to read. We’re blessed with a number of preachers within the fellowship, so I learned to take notes and summarise when I wasn’t preaching. This made sure I was paying attention!

When the second lockdown was introduced, we were the only non-Anglican church on the Island to remain open, and I believe it was the right thing to do. God has blessed us, and seeing one another physically was reassuring, even if behind a face covering, and we enjoyed our socially distanced chats outside in the car park afterwards. God was good: it hardly ever seemed to rain between 12.00 and 1 pm in Leysdown, even during the winter.

Our different preachers took responsibility for the whole service, choosing videos of praise songs etc, and again this led to a variety of styles being developed and enriching our worship.

During the summer we hosted a visit from the United Beach Mission. This was successful and resulted in some great conversations with families and youths on the beach. 

It was great to get outside on September 12 and sing aloud on Leysdown beach as we celebrated the baptism of Mark and Lorraine’s eldest son Marky, who is serving in the army. The weather was lovely, and the sea didn’t knock me over this time! It was brilliant having over 35 of us in attendance too.

We also started a monthly Prayer and Praise midweek meeting in the church in September. This has been well received and we shall see how it develops.

Our families with young children have returned and new people have started worshipping with us also. I believe that God has blessed us as a church, the experiences of the pandemic have brought us closer together as a fellowship and given us an extra dimension to our corporate spirituality. 

South Street Free Church

  • When the first lockdown came, we were able to get online very quickly -- it was rather 'rough about the edges' at first, but we found our feet over the subsequent weeks. Since then, we've had our Sunday worship live streamed to YouTube, and our midweek prayer meetings on Zoom. When church buildings have been allowed to be open for public worship, we've had Sunday morning services there, which are also live streamed.
  • There have been just a very small number of covid cases, the only serious case being a gentleman in his nineties who became very ill and was in hospital, but who has recovered by God's goodness.
  • The congregation has grown during this period, as a couple of households began watching online during the later lockdowns and then started attending in person when they were able to. (They were already believers.)
  • During the last year, the Lord has brought our church to a greater conviction of the need to be reaching out with the gospel; as we responded to this, the Lord has encouraged us by bringing an elderly gentleman (who was 'not religious' for most of his life) apparently to new birth in Christ through our outreach.
  • We are in the process of seeking to employ an evangelist to help mobilize us in outreach to our town. We have a strong candidate whom the congregation is currently considering.
  • The average age of the congregation is lower now than 18 months ago, and we have more children, which is lovely!
  • Financially the Lord has provided wonderfully for our needs (including through the Connexion with a generous grant towards some roof repairs).
  • In summary, in the words of Ezra (which we've been studying recently), the good hand of our God has been upon us (Ezra 7:9; 8:18, 22; cf. Nehemiah 2:8, 18). Thanks be to our God!

Turners Hill Free Church

Turners Hill Free Church continues to experience the blessing and grace of God in the lives of the congregation. During the past year the Spiritual oversight of the Church has been in the care of our four Elders. The Church Trust currently has three Trustees. The Trustees and the Elders continue to have a strong relationship and meet regularly to discuss, plan and pray together.  During the pandemic the Church has met together regularly using Zoom.  On Sundays we have used this method for the Sunday Morning service, a weekly Sunday prayer meeting, weekly fellowship groups on Tuesday evenings and lunchtime prayer meetings on three week days.

The Church is actively seeking a new Minister and one man is currently being considered. Recently the Church has recommenced meeting together for the Sunday morning sermon, which has also been available live on Zoom.  Our Mother and Toddler group has also started meeting in the Church. One Church member has just successfully completed a two-year full time course at a Missionary training college in Holland.  

Wormley Free Church

Like many it has been a time of challenge and change for Wormley Free Church. How can we be and 'do' church when we can't gather to worship or physically meet? What does outreach mean, when there are times when you can look out of your window but not freely go out and mix with the communities you are part of? I've lost count of the number of times as a church we found ourselves thanking God for the gift of technology! We quickly settled into a routine of producing as a church (and it was a real whole church effort, a level of involvement which was a real blessing and want to try and continue) a weekly service video which was uploaded to YouTube for Sunday mornings. After this we meet as a family on Zoom to catch up, share news, and get to know each other better. This post-service cuppa and chat had a very different dynamic to the post-service chat after physical services as we all talked to everyone, and therefore got to know better those we didn't normally talk to.

Bible studies and prayer meetings also switched to Zoom, in fact these worked so well that we are continuing to meet online now! We enjoyed being able to meet others in the Connexion too through our joint services and quiz nights. Over lockdown we ran three Alpha Courses online. This also worked surprisingly well, lessening the time commitment it demands of guests, and meaning people could join us from their own homes (including a houseboat!) making it less threatening. We're running another this Autumn, which will also be online. 

Thankfully we came through lockdown with no serious cases of Covid, although a few members were unwell, for which we give thanks. We started physical services again in July, and are grateful to find that our community has survived intact, and in many ways has been strengthened through the experience. We have been reminded that it is our relationships that are key, not the format or location of our worship, and the importance of all investing in our worship and spiritual life, whatever format that might take. We have also learnt a lot about modern communication techniques and the possibilities of the internet for our outreach and life together, and continue to reflect on these lessons and others as we look forward with anticipation to see where God takes us next. 

Zion Community Church

We’re very thankful to the Lord for sustaining us through COVID. Early on in the pandemic we went online with everyone able to join in. Then, when we were able to, we returned to meeting in person still with a zoom connection. Now our services are pretty much back to normal. We thank God that new people have joined us during COVID, relationships have been restored, and through Zoom we have been able to witness to friends and family who live far away, as well as making connections with missionaries in different countries.

A very busy summer in St. Ives was marked with lots of visitors returning to the church and about 100 volunteers working in the town with United Beach Missions. It was wonderful to be able to sing again, and to no longer have to wear masks. Our large building has been a tremendous blessings giving lost of space for people. We plan to continue to meet in-person on Sunday mornings and online Sunday evenings and mid-week, but are also looking to restart an evangelistic hospitality initiative called ‘Open House’. We give thanks to God for his sustaining.

Matthew Mouse

Cindy is the illustrator and creator of Matthew Mouse Bible Stories. She decided in the first Lockdown in March 2020 to use her passion for children's illustrations and create physical letters containing bible stories, which were posted out to children by a cute little mouse. Since starting the initiative, the popularity for Matthew Mouse and his stories has grown significantly, and the letters are now also shared digitally so that they can be shared across the world.

Read Cindy’s story below about the creation of Matthew Mouse:

'Matthew Mouse is a little mouse that found out quite by chance, he can hop through the pages of the bible, meeting interesting people and seeing amazing events right before his own eyes. He then writes a letter and gets me to illustrate them, so that he can post them monthly to young children and some that are just young at heart, telling them the bible stories from his perspective. 

I created Matthew Mouse in our first Covid Lockdown, because I realised that there were children who were not attending Sunday School each week, and they battled to engage in the zoom church that had replaced it, and were missing out. I also chose to write about the stories in the bible because my husband, who helps with Sunday School, and I had noticed that many of the young people don't know the actual stories from the bible. I thought this would be a fun creative way of filling that gap for them. 

The letters

I started with a physical subscription of one a month that sent out illustrated envelopes addressed to the child, and inside is a letter that I illustrate on both sides. I also include little gifts in each letter that normally connect to the story of the month. Matthew Mouse, however, has grown from this. Originally I would pray and ask for direction on what story to tell next, then I read the story in the bible from three different editions, A children’s bible, the NIV and the Message. I then also have two research books to help with traditions and other background information on each story. My aim is to make each story as accurate as possible, but still keep it fun and engaging. I also deliberately stay away from church language in the stories, so that if a child or someone with no church connection, can read it and understand it. I also tell the story from Matthew's perspective of just being there and witnessing the event. So there is no emphasis on a moral to the story or any religious or specific doctrine. This is left for the individual reading it to add if they choose to. 

The stories

I was originally going to have Matthew Mouse hop between the new and old testament telling his stories, but I soon realised that this would become confusing for Children, having Jesus in one story and not in another. So it has changed and I have concentrated on Old Testament stories this year, with the exception one one or two New Testament stories I had already sent out. Next year 2022 my plan is to only tell the story of Jesus for the year and in a fairly understandable order of events. My plan is to then turn these stories into two books or letter packs later.

Children overseas

I also have a heart for children and young people that don't have access to these letters. I originally come from South Africa and I wanted to share them further than just the UK. I decided to start with our own home church in Ely, and our connected church in Sierra Leone. I decided to send out the same letters, each addressed to the individual young person at Bethesda and I sent them to Bishop Magnus to distribute. It took a long time for the letters to arrive but it was so worth it. He sent me photos of everyone with their letters, and then they all sent back letters of thanks to Matthew Mouse. This, along with the contact that was helping me in the UK, saying that these young people have most likely never received a letter addressed to just them, brought a rather large lump to my throat. I have also had two of these young people sponsored by older church members here in the UK, to help with some of the printing and postage costs. The next set of letters have been sent, and we hope they arrive faster than last time. 

Originally, I had only had a physical letter subscription option in the UK, but I have decided to offer the letters as digital downloads now. This opens up the whole world to receive Matthew’s letters. I have  had adults ask for subscriptions as gifts for children and I have quite a few older people subscribed so that they can enjoy getting a letter through the post from Matthew. All of these things help me to continue writing, illustrating, printing and sending out letters, but more importantly it helps to retell the stories of the bible and spread God’s word in a new and exciting way to young and old all over the world. I am also learning so much about the bible that I thought I already knew. 

My hopes and prayers for Matthew Mouse, is that it spreads far and wide and becomes something too big for me to do from my little home printer!'

Cindy (and Matthew Mouse)

To visit Matthew Mouse's website and learn more about receiving his letters, click on the link below.

Matthew Mouse Bible Stories

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