Please note that the fellowship of this chapel took the brave decision to cease worshipping there from 10 January 2016 and have mostly joined the community at North Walsham. Others worship at Mundesley and Trunch is within a few miles radius.
Text of Sermon at the Final Service:
Revd. Leo Osborn- past President of the Methodist Church
2015 at 4 p.m.
Of all the many privileges
bestowed on me as a Methodist Minister I count being asked to preach this
afternoon as one of the greatest and I am both grateful and humbled to be here
as together we share in the sadness and the thankfulness of this occasion.
But at first glance it
seems a strange day to hold such a service – a new year, so soon after Christmas
and the birth of a baby, a time when we are coming out of winter and already
looking forward to the new life of springtime and this Sunday which the
Christian Church marks the baptism of Jesus and the start of his ministry.
Everything around us cries beginnings, beginnings, but isn’t today all about
endings? To which of course the answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’.
Yes it is about endings
and whilst many people are here today to say thank you and well done for 125
years of faithful worship and witness in this village; and it’s never a bad
thing to remind ourselves that for every church that closes another 20 are
opening throughout the world, for you nevertheless this is the end of a chapter and it’s not surprising there are
tears in the eye and a lump in the throat as you bid farewell to a building
that has become your spiritual home and remember those you have journeyed
alongside, some of whom are now in heaven, and the special memories that are a
part of this church’s history – and yours. So I know that all who have come to
join you this afternoon will be praying for you in the coming days as you say goodbye
and travel on.
And yet today is about
beginnings too and a continuing tale for whilst one chapter may be coming to an
end it’s not the final one – no not by a long chalk- and it’s never wise to leave
a book unfinished for who knows how the story may unfold? Like you I can only
guess but I think I can read the next few pages. It is of a congregation who
although sad just now will continue on their journey of faith, and freed from
their responsibilities to open this, count that, or organise the other, will discover
again the joy of knowing God afresh as they worship and serve him elsewhere.
It is of a church
whose members will enrich any church they join for their faith has not been in
the bricks and mortar of this place but in Jesus Christ the head and
cornerstone. So hanging in the schoolroom for the past couple of years has been
a banner and you may just be able to make out the words on the order of service
that you have in front of you: ‘Our Family - a circle of strength, founded on
faith, joined by love, kept by God, room for all.’ And that is precisely what
the members of this church have been to one another and will bring to any other
fellowship they become a part of. So welcome them with gladness for you will
surely be blessed by them. And then on the next few pages of the book I can
read of charities, churches and this village community who will benefit from
gifts of various kinds from this chapel and they will be a living witness to
the love of God and of our need to care for one another that has been
exemplified in this place.
But as for the next
chapter and the one that follows and the one that comes after that I cannot
know now and neither can you because they are the pages of people whose lives
have been touched and changed by God as a result of this place – preachers who
have gone from here with the good news of the gospel, money that has gone from
here to support so many projects and not least the work of Action for Children.
Or those who have come here: - a lady in deep distress who found hope again
because someone listened, a young man contemplating suicide who was loved and
valued and began to turn his life around again, four young people whose call to
serve God was confirmed here and who are in the ministry or on the mission
field and many others who committed their lives to Christ. And four Presidents
of the Methodist Conference, a Minister of the largest Methodist Church in London,
two Chairs of Methodist Districts, and an Anglican priest in training, all who
came here supposing they had much to bring only to discover that it was they
who were receiving and each one (and I am one) would want to speak today of the
welcome, love, prayer and peace that enriched them here and sustained them as
they went on their way to serve God in other places. And I can tell you these
stories – and you could tell countless more – but what none of us can know is
the sequels to the story and what impact for good and for God has resulted- but
you can be absolutely sure that it has.
Some of you will have
heard of Pauline Webb – a broadcaster, writer, missionary, a former Moderator
of the World Council of Churches and a Vice President of the Methodist Conference
as far back as 1965, and now nearly 90. A number of years ago, Pauline was
invited to shake hands with those who had recently been ordained as Ministers
and as she did so she told them that her hand had once held her father’s hand
and he had once shaken hands with a man who had shaken hands with John Wesley!
And that she said was the nearest Methodists get to apostolic succession!
But apostolic or not,
there is glorious succession of women and men who whilst probably never having
heard of Knapton Methodist Church, have cause to praise God for those who have,
and in this place have resolved to know Christ and to make him known. So listen
to what Peter says in our reading that it is because of the new beginning that
God has made when he raised Jesus from the dead that we have a living hope – an
inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you. In
other words, that what is unknown to us is already lodged in God’s memory bank
and one day when the last chapter of the book has been written and its pages
read aloud, and you see the end from the beginning, then and only then will you
realise how wonderful the story really has been and be so thankful that you
were a part of it.
So perhaps after all, and maybe unbeknown to you, it was an inspired choice to hold this service today. For beginnings have endings and endings have beginnings but they are all gathered up into Christ for Christ is the end for Christ was the beginning, Christ the beginning for the end is Christ. Which is why you can say with confidence, even though through tears, on this day and in this place, “For the past, thanks be to God, for the future – Yes!”
Included in the Service:
Bible readings: Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 40:3-8; Isaiah 43:18-21; I Peter 1:3-9
Best of all is God is with us Amazing Grace Love Divine
About 135 people aged between 14 and 80+ were present.
Knapton is a small village on the B1125 road from
North Walsham to Mundesley.
The building, a converted and extended barn,
has been a place of worship since 1880
and a Methodist Chapel since 1890.
For more information about Knapton Village please go to
View The Methodist Church East Anglia District in a larger map
- Circuit Office, North Walsham Methodist Church
- Grammar School Road
- North Walsham
- NR28 9JH