The Vale of Aylesbury is a large area of mainly flat land mostly in Buckinghamshire, its boundary is marked by Milton Keynes to the north, Leighton Buzzard and the Chiltern Hills to the east and south, Thame to the south and Bicester to the west.
The Vale of Aylesbury Methodist Circuit is more localised around the County Town of Buckinghamshire, Aylesbury but extends as far as Thame in Oxfordshire and almost to Milton Keynes at Stewkley. Within its boundaries are the two Anglican Churches where John Wesley preached his first sermons after his ordination in 1725 some 13 years before he "Felt his heart strangely warmed" at the meeting in Aldersgate Street, London on May 24th. 1738, the occasion which eventually led to the formation of the Methodist Church.
In the early 1800s Methodist societies grew in many of the villages in the area, chapels were built largely supported by folk who made their living from the land, one of the earliest being a chapel in Stoke Mandeville built in 1815, this was in use until the 1950s when it was replaced; sadly, the Chapels at Stoke Hammond and Stoke Mandeville Chapel have now closed, the latter is still in use as a Circuit facility. A number of chapels, many built in the 1800s, that have been lovingly maintained and adapted, are still in use as places of worship and service to their local communities.
In 2004 the original Aylesbury Methodist Circuit, comprised 10 churches in and around Aylesbury, in the London Northwest District; with the formation in 2005 of the Methodist London District and rearrangements to the Districts and Circuits serving the Home Counties, it became the Aylesbury Vale Methodist Circuit and moved into the Methodist Northampton District, at the same time as being enlarged, by the addition of 4 churches from the Leighton BuzzardCircuit, to a total of 14.
Further changes occurred in 2010 when 4 churches, from theThame & Watlington Circuit, were added, bringing the number of churches to18, and a change of name to The Vale of Aylesbury Methodist Circuit. Since then, the closure of the two chapels means that we now have 16 active societies.
Although our churches and chapels vary greatly in age, sizeand style of architecture all have this in common: a desire to follow JesusChrist and to share his love in the communities in which we serve. To this end we offer worship in different styles, opportunities to deepen and share faith and the chance to work together on different projects, along with a warm welcome and genuine friendship, all with the common purpose of channelling God's unchanging love for all people in our constantly changing world.
We seek to provide meaningful services of worship in all our churches both large and small. This can take alternative forms and the involvement and encouragement of local congregations.
Christian commitment and church membership will be a regular challenge in our services.
Worshipping and praying together at Circuit events can help develop our sense of Circuit identity.
Each church is encouraged to explore sharing worship with other local churches.
The Circuit provides help and opportunity for personal and church growth through training events as needed. These can be for Church Stewards, Youth and Children's workers, Local Preachers, Worship Leaders, Musicians, Pastoral Carers and other groups, including ecumenical partners.
Development of personal faith is encouraged through Bible study, fellowship and small group meetings.
Providing appropriate pastoral care for all congregations is important to us.
A constant challenge to us is how best to present the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ to our local communities.
This aim is helped by ensuring each church has an attractive external image. This needs to be matched by the practical Christian love of our members within the community.
We strive to help people explore and share their Christian faith effectively. This spirituality is expressed in the love and concern we show for each other, the local community and the wider world.
We encourage churches to discover and respond to the needs of their local communities, especially in the creative use of our buildings. New housing offers more opportunities for us.
All our churches seek to provide a welcoming environment. This includes family occasions, Christian festivals and many other community events.
We support and publicise issues of local or global concern, especially climate change, justice, freedom and humanity.
We are a Fair Trade Circuit. We aim to maximise our use of fairly traded goods to help third world producers.