Vickerstown’s minister is Rev. Zena Smith, who came to the church in September 2018 to take over from Rev. Jennet McLeod who had been with us for four years. We welcome her as she starts her ministry with us. The main Sunday service is at 11:00 a.m. followed by coffee and fellowship. The church has a prayer group that meets fortnightly and leads a ‘Prayer and Praise’ service approximately once every 6 weeks. Zena will lead about one service a month and the other services are led by other ministers and lay preachers from across the United Area – we are pleased Jennet is not leaving the area and will still be with us sometimes. There is no regular evening service at present though there may still be occasional evening worship for special events: for example, we hosted the Area ‘Easter Offering’ service in 2016 and the ‘Cog Slog’ walk, faith tea and 6 p.m. worship in summer 2017. We also sometimes join with the local parish church, St Mary’s, for their services. All are welcome at any service. Each Saturday or Sunday the weekly notice sheet is posted on the noticeboard outside the front door, with full details of all services and other planned events.
Vickerstown is a Fairtrade Church, a commitment to use Fairtrade tea and coffee at all church events, to explore using other products (we also use sugar and hot chocolate, and sometimes Fairtrade biscuits) and to promote awareness of Fairtrade – we have a themed coffee morning in ‘Fairtrade Fortnight’ every year, with displays, tastings and fundraising for the Fairtrade Foundation (see www.fairtrade.org.uk for further details). We are also an Eco-Congregation, an award gained in 2010 reflecting a focus on creation and stewardship in worship and bible study, environmental awareness in Church life and efforts to open this up to the wider community. For a brief PowerPoint presentation about this please go to http://www.churchestogethercumbria.co.uk/stories. We were delighted to receive our second award in spring 2014 – please see the copy of the local newspaper’s coverage of our celebration below. In January 2016 ‘Eco-Congregation’ was re-named ‘Eco-Church’ and the award scheme was restructured: it now has three levels, Bronze, Silver and Gold, calculated on a points system from an online survey about the church’s activities. We were delighted to find that we already qualify for a Bronze award and received this in summer 2016; we are now working to achieve a silver award though we expect this to be challenging and it may take a few years.
Vickerstown Methodist Church is on Walney Island and enjoys a lovely view over Walney Channel and up towards the Lake District hills (as well as a fine view of the shipyard buildings!) over its sheltered garden. To find us, come over the bridge from Barrow and turn right down the Promenade past the Ferry pub, look out on your left for the church sign pointing up the bank next to the wooden cross. Take the first left turn, then immediately turn left again and then once more, drive to the end of the road (Warren Street) and you will be there. Having asked the local council for many years to install road signs from the Promenade we were delighted when they finally appeared in early 2015, hopefully making the church easier to find. We have a good relationship with the other two Walney churches, St. Mary’s (Anglican) and St. Columba’s (Catholic), with members often attending each others’ events and some joint events such as a Palm Sunday ‘walk of witness’ down Central Drive and occasional open-air worship such as in Vickerstown Park at Harvest in 2014 and on the beach for Harvest 2015 and 2016. Outdoor Harvest 2017 was unfortunately rained off – we hope for better luck in 2018 as we try to keep the churches and their activities visible to the community as a whole.
We have a monthly coffee morning (10 a.m. on a Saturday) with cakes, bring and buy and Fairtrade stalls – please check the latest Newslink, available elsewhere on this site, for all upcoming dates. Mostly this is for church funds (as well as the value as a social event), though once or twice a year we support a charity with the proceeds. The coffee morning is usually replaced by an afternoon tea for one of the summer months. There is also a monthly ‘Food and Fellowship’ social gathering for a meal and a chat, sometimes with a speaker, and this group enjoys making good use of the small profits from members’ contributions. In 2012 we ‘twinned’ both our toilets with new facilities in poor communities in Burundi – please admire the certificates in our loos if you ever visit! – and in 2013 we raised money to buy five solar cookers for Sudanese refugee families in Chad. In 2014 and 2015 we decided to find a safe water project to support and sent money on three occasions to ‘Aquabox’ which provides those in need with water storage and treatment/purifying capacity, as well as a selection of humanitarian items. We think our boxes went to a camp for Syrian refugees in Turkey, a community in Malawi and to the Philippines following typhoon damage there. We then made a donation to the Cumbria flood relief fund in December 2015 after Storm Desmond, and supported a United Area fundraising project for Christian Aid in the first half of 2016. This was followed by supporting a Cumbria District fundraising appeal for the Nicolas Lowe children’s homes in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and sending a donation to St. Mary’s Hospice locally in memory of longstanding member Joan Roberts who was supported by them for a short time before her death. After a talk on dementia and the increasing challenges it poses for all of society, we collected money for the Alzheimer’s society in 2017 – this really touched a chord with several people and we raised nearly £300, giving £100 to support church-based dementia projects in Cumbria and £195 to the Alzheimer’s Society. Money raised in the first half of 2018 was passed on to the Furness Homelessness Support Group. At Christmas each year the church supports ‘All we Can’, a specifically Methodist charity supporting life-changing projects in developing countries.
Vickerstown also usually hosts the United Area Bonfire Party each year as the garden and view over the rest of Barrow (to admire everyone else’s posh fireworks) can both be seen from inside for those who prefer to stay in the warm. This raises money for the Methodist Fund for World Mission. In June 2017 we had a series of 4 weekly Bible studies, and linked Sunday services, for ‘Bible month’ and we repeated this in 2018: 2017 focussed on the book of James, this year was based on Jonah. We hope to participate again in 2019. The church was also open with a series of ‘Prayer Stations’ in June 2017 for the nationwide wave of prayer titled ‘Thy Kingdom Come’: we are only a small church but still like to get involved in major events where we can. We were therefore open in a similar way in September 2017 for the Believe in Barrow ‘Real Lives’ week: please see www.believeinbarrow.com for further details on all events across the town, and future plans. Our 2018 Fairtrade coffee morning was tied into the county-wide ‘Moving Mountains’ Mission and it was great to welcome Kat from the Moving Mountains team who spoke about how justice projects like Fairtrade are an important part of our faith.
Rainbows and Brownies meet weekly at Vickerstown. Beavers, Cubs and Scouts are run jointly between the three Walney churches. There are currently three Beaver colonies, with so many moving up into Cubs that in January 2014 we had to set up a second Cub pack to fit them all in! It is lovely to welcome the uniformed organisations to Sunday morning worship at Parade services four or five times a year, particularly at special occasions such as Harvest when we enjoy decorating the church with berries from the garden and donations of produce (which is then donated to the local Foodbank or auctioned for Christian Aid). There is no Sunday school at present but we would be delighted to set one up if there were children interested! In 2012 we started running children’s clubs on some mornings during school holidays, and were pleased with the attendance and also the interest and enthusiasm of the children. From spring 2014 we have instead supported ecumenical efforts to establish a monthly ‘Messy Church’ based at St. Mary’s: the first two sessions, on Good Friday and May 18th 2013, were very encouraging and the event has now found a regular slot from 3 pm to 5 pm on the third Sunday of each month except for August, December and Good Friday. This may prove to be the best way forward for connecting the island’s families to its churches: on Good Friday 2015 the Walney Messy Church celebrated its birthday with an excellent turnout of at least 60 children and about 30 accompanying adults. Well done to whoever managed to cut the cake small enough for everyone to have a piece! Numbers are variable but about 40 children is probably the average.
The current church building was opened in 1998 and is a single main room that doubles as worship area when the furniture is out and hall when it is away, with many configurations in between. There are toilets and a kitchen, entrance and lobby, a rather small vestry and a storeroom. As well as the church events above it is in regular use for children’s parties, quiet days, community groups such as slimming groups and Yoga classes and occasionally as a polling station. We like to know that it is being used and that people are coming into the building. We have recently installed a defibrillator kindly donated by the Walney First Responders (on the outside of the building, for community use as and when needed), and also have a new noticeboard visible from the Promenade. Please contact Karen Edmondson on 01229 474601 or email@example.com for enquiries about booking the church, or Rev Zena Smith on 01229 465061 or firstname.lastname@example.org for other enquiries.