Cookstown Methodist Church volunteers, Leanne, Luke Zac and Matthew Johnston.
Cookstown Methodist Church, although a staple of the Cookstown landscape since 1858, is no ancient relic – but in fact an active church involved in many different aspects of outreach in the local community.
And the pandemic over the past year has not deterred the church nor its members.
During the initial lockdown, a co-ordinated effort was carried out to ensure congregation members were provided with a weekly hot meal, and friendship, during the uncertain and difficult time.
These efforts have resulted in new friendships being formed among meal providers and recipients – with some church members still actively involved.
Karen Wylie, who has continued working as a nurse throughout, juggled this outreach effort as well as homeschooling; but found it a very rewarding experience and noted the gratefulness expressed by those who received meals and confirming that they all “really enjoyed it!”.
Congregation member, full-time mum and full-time local teacher Leanne Johnston was moved to outreach efforts of her own in January 2021 when thinking about her Cookstown High School pupils and the struggles they were facing with lockdown.
Leanne decided to start the Take the Time Facebook group, encouraging those who were struggling, to move more. She encouraged participants to take part in the daily three mile challenge to run, walk or cycle; or spurring on those who felt they could not face the day to take even a short walk outside – all the while reiterating that “you are not a failure”.
Leanne’s main goal was to help and reassure anyone feeling low by raising awareness that a lot of people are struggling; from students to mums homeschooling and everyone in between. Coinciding with raising awareness of the issues, Leanne also raised money for The Olive Branch mental health charity.
Although initially hoping to just raise a few £100, Leanne’s motivation and determination to help people struggling in fact raised just over £1,900; with a knock-on effect of increasing exposure of this local charity, which provides a vital – and free – service.
Cookstown Methodist Church is also involved in practical outreach with the local community through Kintsugi Hope Well Being groups. Kintsugi Hope is a UK-based charity striving to make a difference to people’s mental wellbeing.
Congregation members Joanne Zeelie and Dorothy McConnell went through the Kintsugi Hope training process in order to run the Wellbeing Groups, which aim to provide a safe and supportive space for people who feel overwhelmed - covering issues of disappointment, loss, anxiety, anger and resilience.
Joanne hopes the groups “will provide a safe space for people to talk about their wellbeing and learn ways to cope with life challenges”.
The first Well Being group was held via Zoom earlier this month and will continue to run over the next 12 weeks. These groups are open to anyone and it is anticipated that these groups will be a regular offering of Cookstown Methodist’s outreach - so please feel free to contact the church for more information.
Finally, Cookstown Methodist currently meets in the Methodist Church car park at 11 am every Sunday – with the service streamed live over our Facebook page and later on our YouTube channel.
If you haven’t been to church in a while or would like to engage with us for the first time – please come along and join us.
And when lockdown restrictions ease, we hope to be back in the old building in the not so distant future! You can join us then too!
Cookstown Methodist Church - visit us on Facebook, phone 028 8676 2639 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find the The Olive Branch, Magherafelt, on Facebook or phone 028 7963 3688.