Clifton Methodist Church holds so many memories for me.
It was where I got married and held my daughter’s christening. After that, my daughter happily moved on to Sunday School and loved joining in the storytelling with gusto. One day, at two-and-a-half years old, she was part of a service. She led the rest of the Sunday School children in a grand procession. They carried a cardboard box version of the Ark of the Covenant.
After arriving triumphantly at the altar, the minister asked: “What have you got there?”
My daughter was very literal, replying: “It’s a box!”
“What is it for?” asked the minister.
Hands on hips, my daughter said: “Putting things in!”
At this point, the congregation was sniggering and snorting, trying desperately to keep quiet.
“What sort of things?” the minister, continuing to dig a hole.
Another child stepped in. “Christmas presents!”
Two years ago, my daughter got married at the very same altar. She helps lead the Rainbows group at the church, and a few of the kids came to celebrate with her – forming a guard of honour as she emerged from the building with the groom.
Then there were the harvest festivals. Pineapples, melons, bananas, pears, apples and oranges, all along the communion rail. Sheaves of corn and flowers on the windowsills. A huge bunch of grapes hanging from the pulpit. And so many homegrown leeks, onions, and homegrown vegetables everywhere. All this fresh produce created a delicious smell in the chapel. Today, the equivalent displays are full of boxes of cereals, baked beans, and jars of marmalade.
Clifton Methodist Church was on the route when the Tour de France came to town. We gathered to watch the bikes speed by. By the time the riders had reached us, lots of people were crowding the pavement. The church was opened for people to use the facilities and help themselves to free drinks and bacon sandwiches. It showed me that the community spirit of this place still holds strong.