The Holy Living Column with Rev Peter Dodson
The building of Allhallowgate's Methodist premises began in the nineteenth century. The church building itself is very much as it was when built. The interior is essentially the same overall shape, although numerous changes have been made to furnishings and decoration.
There would have been only one fairly small hall attached to the church in the early days. Since then at least two renovations have taken place.
The first enlarged the halls considerably.
The more recent one was designed to make better use of the premises by radically changing the interior to a modern very smart and flexible facility, allowing the congregation to reach out to the community more than ever and as a result the congregation is able to welcome many more people.
Recently, passers-by saw the original part of the building clad in scaffolding and protective plastic. The building’s exterior stonework underwent much-needed replacement.
Allhallowgate’s congregation shares Methodism’s current nationwide priorities:
“To proclaim and affirm [Methodism’s] conviction of God’s love in Christ, for us and for all the world; and renew confidence in God’s presence and action in the world and in the Church. As ways towards realising this priority, the Methodist Church will give particular attention to the following: Underpinning everything [Methodists] do with God-centred worship and prayer; Supporting community development and action for justice, especially among the most deprived and poor – in Britain and worldwide; developing confidence in evangelism and in the capacity to speak of God and faith in ways that make sense to all involved; encouraging fresh ways of being Church; nurturing a culture in the Church which is people-centred and flexible.”
Every “ticket-carrying” member of the Methodist Church has his or her calling listed on the ticket: “worship within the local church, including regular sharing in Holy Communion, and through personal prayer; learning and caring, through Bible study and meeting for fellowship, so that [he/she] may grow in faith and support others in their discipleship; service, by being a good neighbour in the community, challenging injustice and using [his/her] resources to support the church in its mission to the world; and evangelism, through working out [his/her] faith in daily life and sharing Christ with others.”
Prayer is central to Allhallowgate’s church congregation. Alongside Sunday worship services, a prayer group meets at 11am each Thursday, to pray for the world, the community and for individual people who are in any kind of need.
Allhallowgate’s extended premises provide space throughout each week for a truly amazing range of regular community and group activities.
When I began my research for this February column, the church’s website included a 12th century prayer of Abbess Elizabeth Schönau: “O consuming fire, O Spirit of love, descend into the depth of our hearts and there transform us until we are fire of your fire, love of your love, and Christ himself is formed within us.”
This intensely spiritual expression of burning love and desire underpins, not only Allhallowgate Methodist Church and worldwide Methodism in general, but every other Christian denomination and person.
The ancient word “allhallowgate” means “all holy street”. Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, said that, “Salvation [means] ... the recovery of the divine nature ... and true holiness ...”