Reverend Leslie Newton – Bramhall Methodist Church

7 Nov 2013

Former Reverend of the Methodist Church, Leslie Newton, describes the “community glue” that resulted in Bramhall’s award winning status as friendliest village in the UK.

“What struck me about Bramhall,” said Minister of Bramhall Methodist Church, Leslie Newton, “is the strong sense of community that prevails throughout every aspect of village life.”

“It is part of my job to get alongside people and help them through their various walks of life, and so I get to hear more than most people I suppose around the village.”

“We hear about community breaking down, I think that Bramhall is bucking that trend. People genuinely do look out for one another. It is widely recognised that churches are the glue that hold a community together, and that is no different for Bramhall Methodist Church.”

“In my years as Minister of Bramhall Methodist Church I have made it my mission to ensure that everyone who walks through the door feels welcome, at any point during the day and week. We are situated centrally, and that is the key to being able to reach out and invite people in.”

“I think that no matter what age, background or creed you are, everyone needs to feel that sense of belonging. What is exciting about Bramhall is the range of churches we have, which cater to different tastes and needs; and the way we all work together to ensure we are able to provide something for everyone.”

Bramhall Methodist Church has a membership of around 415 with four weekly congregations: two are in parallel on a Sunday morning, one meets on a Sunday evening and a further one meets on a Thursday morning. In addition, there is a monthly early morning communion, and a Messy Church.

Leslie continues: “We try and tackle challenges that every church faces on a daily basis, to enable all our congregations to engage positively with the call to whole-life discipleship. What I mean by that is making sure that our outreach supports people throughout their walk in life at every age and every step of the way. We aim to literally practise exactly what we preach, making our ministry relevant to everyone.”

“A key motivator within my role in Bramhall is to try and equip people for the lives they are living day by day, and I do that by looking outside the four walls of our church building to the community and opportunities that are around us. I spend a lot of time chatting to people who live here in Bramhall which in turn helps me provide exactly the service our community needs.”

Brought up in Lancaster, Leslie studied and worked as an accountant in Manchester before feeling drawn to the Christian ministry. Since taking up his post at Bramhall Methodist Church, he has supported the development of social meeting points for all ages. The Bramhall Methodist Thrift Shop (and its associated Coffee Shop) was the first of its type to open in the village, and draws in visitors of all ages, for whom it is a regular meeting point.

“I wholeheartedly agree with the survey results which revealed Bramhall as the friendliest village in the country. For me the village just seems to work, we have a lot of loyal independent shops who provide a wide range of opportunities for residents in food, lifestyle and leisure. Our health centre is brimming with help and activity and the library provides another central meeting point that draws people together.”

“I think that what marks Bramhall as special for me is that there is a wide choice of central meeting points where people can link up depending upon what their personal interests are. It’s a place where you easily bump into people you know.”

“One of my goals as Minister of Bramhall Methodist Church is to provide a safe, welcoming space that people can drop in and out of as much as they please, or get more involved if they want to be part of “something”. When I moved here I felt immediately at home; Bramhall has a unique character and is a great place to be.”

*Since this interview, Revd Leslie Newton from Bramhall Methodist Church has left to take up a new position of “Superintendent Minister” of the York Circuit, leading a team of 11 ministers looking after 37 churches in the York area.

Leslie’s successor is Revd Philip Berry, who with his wife Joanna, moved here in the summer of 2014 and began his role on 1st September.*

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