Monday 7 August 2023

Tough Assignment - Steward's Epilogue

I see Thee not, I hear Thee not

Yet art Thou oft with me

And Earth has ne'er so dear a spot

As where I meet with Thee

These words, written for the Methodist Hymn Book one hundred years ago, express the feelings of one man for the church he loved and for the place where he had learnt his trust in God. They echo the determination of our society at Eton Wick to survive beyond a century with a chapel that has become, for us, a powerhouse of prayer and a springboard of service and mission.

The Primitive Methodist Chapel was built in 1886 as an act of faith by dedicated souls believing that many would come to hear the Word of God preached and take the love of God into their hearts. It was the direct result of a great groundswell of the movement of the Holy Spirit in that generation which produced many such Bethels throughout the land. They brought Christ nearer to the people, nearer to their lives and nearer to their ways of thinking. They brought challenge and response to young and old.

The story starts with one woman and her vision which was transmitted to others. The simple fellowship of Sunday School, House Meetings and Camp Meetings created the demand for a chapel and so the vision became a reality. Always since its birth the chapel has struggled to thrive and grow with the village and its 'New Town' image. Always the chapel met demand and opportunity - expanding, consolidating, re-equipping, and re-presenting itself to every generation until the present day one hundred years on.

Although this booklet is about the history of a building it is really about the lives of people associated with it. As such, many events must remain untold, but the story cannot end without reference to one hidden thread that binds our heritage. It can be found in the simple list of Ministers, allotted for brief spans of their time to shepherd the flock at Eton Wick. They above all others have welded the fabric to the fellowship and provided the impetus for our enterprise and the focus for our acts of worship. They have listened and advised, served and led through happy times and sad. Their glory is unsung, but their presence is felt within these pages. The ministers together with the never-failing band of local preachers have formed a corner stone in building up spiritual life and nurturing the continuity of faith. Without these evangelists our story would be about a struggling organisation instead of flourishing church.

We the Stewards and Officers of Eton Wick Methodist Chapel have raised this document as a remembrance and a memorial to the century that has passed - for all the life that has been dedicated here, for the worship in hymn and prayer, for the word that has been continually preached, for all the love and the care shown, for the teaching given and the guidance received. All this work has been accomplished in the name of Jesus Christ. The assignment has sometimes been difficult, but the reward has been in knowing that this place has always been a haven of blessing to many.

The achievement of any church is not measured merely in the size and quality of its building, or the number and popularity of its membership, but by the influence which its congregation has upon the surrounding area and in the lives of others. We hand on to the next hundred years, with its fresh faces, new ideas and rapidly changing lifestyle, the same tough assignment, and the same challenge for outreach. Whatever circumstances may arise and whatever the fashion or mood of the times, we pray that this chapel will meet the need and answer the call.

Once more we look to the future with a vision of hope. God bless us all.

Who puts his trust

In God most just

Has built his house

He who relies

On Jesus Christ

Heaven shall be his securely most surely

The Eton Wick History Group is most grateful for the kind permission given by the Eton Wick Methodist Chapel to republish this history, Tough Assignment on this website.

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