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Calderdale Methodist Circuit : Eileen Appleyard

Heptonstall church

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Early Life. I was born into a Christian family - Dad was a Local Preacher and a Circuit Steward for several years. Mum and he were Sunday school teachers amongst other church involvements.
Wesley Place Church Alsager was where I was baptised and attended regularly. I was a much-loved child being the only girl in the middle of four brothers. Inevitably I was a tom-boy!
I suppose it was at Grammar school that I eventually began to question: ‘Is there a God? - I can’t see any evidence of him’! Here I met Christians of my own age who challenged my assessment about God. I responded to God in a life-time commitment- it was my 16th Birthday. I soon believed I had a call to preach and I was put ‘on Note’ and then ‘on Trial’ and began to study for the Methodist local preachers examinations. This is when I began to explore the Christian faith and to get to know the Bible.
1956 A Caravan Mission came to the Nantwich Circuit. What a debt I owe under God to the two Deaconesses Jean Oglethorpe and Greta Wainwright.
In March 1958 I was ‘Recognised’ as a fully qualified Local preacher like my father and my grandfather. It has always been a privilege, a heavy responsibility, an awesome task and a great delight to be a preacher.
My interest in the Deaconesses was turning into a call. At the time this was the only way of ministry in fulltime service open to women in the Methodist church. I was accepted for training at the College at Ilkley in 1959. The spiritual emphasis was just right, the level of study was demanding but not too excessive and the friendships formed were so enriching they have lasted a life-time.
1961-1965 Burslem Mission Let loose on the world! There were great contrasts between the small town/rural circuit I had been used to and a City Centre mission so it was a sharp learning curve about actually doing the work of a Deaconess.
1964 Diaconal Ordination. A very special high point of renewed dedication. I didn’t realise until then how much I wished to be ordained.
1965-67 Caravan Mission. I loved this second diaconal appointment and gained two very good friends in the colleagues who worked with me. From that time I have tried to incorporate into my emphases that of leading people to commitment and growth in Christ.
1967-74 Manchester and Salford Mission. The Salford Team Ministry of which I was a part was expressive of every kind of community involvement for all ages and all needs of people. Colleagueship was of the highest quality, the work was demanding but it was most sustaining. I learned so much about the church needing to be at the heart of its community.
1973 The Methodist Ministry was opened to women, which I welcomed on behalf of all those women who had felt called for years and years. Then to my surprise in the next year I felt myself impelled to offer myself for the Ministry.
1975 Ordination to the Ministry of Word and Sacraments was another highlight and one of dedication and reaching out for the Spirit of God. I did of course remain an Associate Deacon and I have valued my Deaconess roots all my ordained ministry.
1975-8 Crook Co Durham. Maybe there was a little less excitement about some ‘ordinary’ circuit appointments than in the diaconal ones - which had always been ‘Mission’ ones! Incidentally I don’t think that the friends in Crook had taken on board the fact that women were now able to be appointed as ministers in the Methodist Church - until I arrived!
1978-85 Appointed to the Spen Valley Circuit in West Yorkshire. The Charismatic Movement had breathed new life into the church at Liversedge and these years were among the happiest and most fulfilling. I saw my prime job was to try to hold the various views within the church together.
1985-92 Keighley and Worth Valley Circuit where Michael Appleyard was the superintendent Minister. The work of the churches and the circuit was maintained and this was despite the illness and eventual death of Michael’s wife, Margaret, a traumatic time for him and the whole family. After a few years things began to develop between Michael and me and we were married in the January prior to leaving the Circuit. Needless to say after 55 years of a single life there was a lot of adjustment to make for both of us!
1992-1997 The Huddersfield Circuit[s]. We arrived here as man and wife and knew that this would be our last appointment. Some of this time I spent in asking God about the future and what he might want of me during retirement. Therefore when the opportunity came I welcomed the opportunity to follow a period of Guided Prayer for a week. Later I was able to do two periods of training as a Guide in what has now come to be called Accompanied Prayer.
1997 Retirement and I began this period of life on a veritable high because I was thrilled and overawed that God had been so utterly faithful to me over the years in what I have often described as – ‘a Diaconal/Ministry’. At this stage in life I am glad to have various opportunities of service, including preaching, and it has been possible to follow various spirituality concerns more fully.

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Page updated: 30th September 2012