125th Anniversary Celebrations: Looking Back
As we look back over our 10 days of celebrations, a HUGE THANK YOU must be given to everyone involved in the preparations, planning and delivery. It was, as one member put it, “a truly uplifting experience, with the building looking so attractive and inviting both inside and out”.
The Celebrations commenced with an All Age service on Sunday 2 June, with special invitations sent to those who had been married or baptized in the church.
The pilgrimage was followed by tea and cake (much appreciated after 2 hours walking – a lot of cake was consumed during the course of the week) and the day came to the perfect conclusion with our Songs of Praise of service.
The exhibition then became the main focus of attention during the week. All ages came to see it, and people were amazed at the content. Some stayed the whole two hours! One young Sunday Club member loved the fact that she found photos of her sisters in there from when they were young, and friends and family enjoyed it together. As one member said, “The history of this church is very strong and I love worshipping here”. Another thought the “display boards depicting our history were very enlightening and made even more interesting by being able to share memories with other visitors”.
We were also visited by the children at Fleetville Juniors, who were very engaged and asked lots of questions. The teachers were full of praise.
On the Wednesday we were privileged to host: “The Story of Fleetville – St Albans’ own East End” by local historian Mike Neighbour. A fascinating account of the history of the area. We were so pleased to see so many people there, and he certainly had a captive audience. As one audience member commented, “I really learnt a lot about this town”.
The celebrations culminated in a weekend of praise, food and festivities.
Saturday night saw the Church Hall packed as 125 of us gathered together for the Church Family Celebration Meal, a”highlight”for many who attended. It started with the pre-meal singing in the church to the accompaniment of David and Alan.
Great food, great company, and a wonderful community evening with lots of “catching up with friends both past and present”. The evening was further enriched by the after dinner speeches, including those of Rev Rosemary Fletcher and Rev. Martin Turner.
Everyone enjoyed themselves, and comments from those who attended included: “I really enjoyed myself and had fun as well”, “the 125 meal was wonderful”, “the Gambian and Sri Lankan food was extremely nice” and “everyone was very friendly and we had a chance to meet with people we may not have known”. A “wonderful” social event and a great opportunity to show off our new Large Hall.
Sunday was top and tailed with a jam packed morning Celebration Service, with our MP Anne Main joining the congregation.
Then a Celebration Outdoor Tea Party with live music from Casino Royale, a steel drum band, followed by an outdoor service in the Church grounds at 6pm. The turnout was amazing despite the weather. The children painted pebbles (30 in total) which were then placed in our gardens for later collection.
Attendees came from all over, including one girl who had visited with her class from Fleetville Juniors and came back with her mum to join in our celebrations. Another little girl, with her father, said they had heard the music from their flat opposite the Church and came to find out what was happening. Later the same girl returned with a card she had written saying she loved our Church.
A true reminder of how the Church began with public outdoor preaching and a firm desire to reach out to the local community.
The celebrations caused one member to reflect on how the church family has supported her through recent health issues, and how so many people “generously gave of their time”. In her words, “I feel very humbled when I think of these kindnesses, and proud to be a member of Hatfield Road Methodist Church”.
All in all a fabulous success. Everyone came together, all generations, old faces and new, and showed what a wonderful, diverse, inclusive, and giving church community we are. As one member commented, it made him “proud to be a Methodist, ….I’d recommend this Church to everyone”.
Here’s to another 125 years.