The Methodist Women in Britain group have just left us after their autumn visit and again we are struck by their joyful enthusiasm.

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Twice a year in spring and autumn, women converge on Minsteracres from all over the north east for three days of prayer and praise. This time their theme is ‘our journey with God’, under the guidance of Rev Ruth Gee from Darlington.

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Among the familiar faces is Mavis Sykes from Jesmond. She has been coming longer than any of this group of 32, having first visited Minsteracres in 1997. She has only missed one visit since. “I have always worked within the church,” she says. “Sometimes you need to take a step back and take a look at yourself and what you’re doing.

“I feel I needed to come to Minsteracres to refresh my own spirituality as a sort of regeneration.”

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Carol Smith from Cramlington, who is responsible for the beautiful tableau in the prayer room, explains the attraction for her. “I needed my own space, but with people I know.” It’s clear from the dynamic of the group that supporting each other is a very effective part of their programme.

Rev Judith Oldroyd is current district president. Explaining her role she says “We put our own interpretation in how we facilitate growth and encourage fellowship and involvement.” She’s on to a winner with this group!

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As president, Judith also chooses two projects to promote during her two year tenure, one at home and one overseas. Close to her heart, the home one is to raise funds for the Women’s Cancer Detection Society. The other is currently under wraps pending a launch next month.

“We are very fond of all the staff and community at Minsteracres,” says Judith. “They all go out of their way to help and make us feel very welcome.”

Sad to see the departure of Sister Therese from Minsteracres, the group singled her out for thanks and gave her a gift to remember them by.