METHODISTS are preparing for a major shake-up in the way the denomination operates in Garstang, rural Wyre and Goosnargh.
Garstang Methodist circuit, which currently includes seven chapels, is to merge with the Lancaster and Morecambe/Heysham circuits later this year. At the same time Pilling Methodist chapel will move into the North Fylde circuit.
Talks about new ways of pastoral care and mission, and possible changes to circuit boundaries and have been under way for the past year.
Now the churches have agreed to the creation of a North Lancashire circuit, which will have a total of 24 churches in an area stretching from Tewitfield to Goosnargh.
The new circuit will have seven ordained ministers (five presbyters and two deacons). Each of the ministers will have pastoral responsibility for a grouping of churches as well as circuit-wide responsibilities.
From September Garstang Methodist Church will be linked within the new circuit with Calder Vale, Dolphinholme, Emmets (Over Wyresdale), Quernmore, Roeburndale, Scorton and Wray.
Pastorally the grouping will be cared for by two ministers, a presbyter and a deacon. The names of the two clergy occupying those roles were announced this week. The are Rev Keith Borwick, currently a minister near Hull. He will live at Garstang Manse. The deacon’s role will be occupied by Jane Gibson, currently ministering in Middlesborough.
The other new arrangements include the appointment of Rev David Tidswell, currently Lancaster circuit superintendent, to role of superintendent of the new North Lancashire circuit and with specific responsibility for Trinity Methodist Church, Goosnargh as well as Silverdale and Warton churches.
A circuit spokesman said: “He is moving house to be near the motorway junction at Warton/Carnforth - indeed he has had a practice run and, assuming no motorway blocks - can reach Goosnargh in very little time.”
The churches at Galgate, Hollins Lane (Forton) and Lancaster will be led by the Rev Juliet Wrigleworth, who will be involved in developing discipleship groups within the circuit.
The scrapping of long-established Garstang circuit and the other changes means Garstang’s Methodist minister will no longer, as has traditionally the case, also be circuit superintendent.
The last full time Methodist minister at Garstang was the Rev Derrick Bannister who retired last year. Since then the church has been led by a retired minister, Rev Derek North of Morecambe.
The circuit spokesman said there had been a unanimous vote last autumn to join the three northern circuits and for Pilling to move into the North Fylde circuit. Knott End Methodist Church joined the North Fylde circuit last year.
A church spokesman said: “We all felt that these moves were the most positive and exciting ways to go forward. Change can be stressful and unsettling but also can being about a new impetus to think again about what we are about and how we achieve our aims.”