A postscript to the previous blog – perhaps because Methodist ministers are itinerant and because churches are grouped into circuits and districts – or perhaps because they are rather sociable people, it seems that whenever we visit a Methodist church we find some connection, some personal link with the place or the people there. There have been a few examples whilst here in Shetland.
When we first went to North Roe we discovered that the new minister there had previously ministered in the Liverpool South East circuit, where my father was a minister sixty years ago – and later we met him again at Vidlin when we had our friend from Canada with us – Pat was a teenager when we were in Liverpool (and my babysitter) and continued to be a close friend to our family when she moved to Canada.
A couple of weeks ago we went to North Roe for the service which was led by an elderly lady from the Whiteness Mission Group. I discovered that she was a teenager when my parents were in Shetland and in the early fifties trained as a midwife in the hospital in Lerwick where I was born.
That however was not all – she had just had lunch with a woman who came regularly to Shetland for holidays. And the reason – her father had been minister at Walls (on the west side of Shetland) at the same time as my father was in North Roe. I recognised the name of her father immediately, my parents had often talked about him and kept track of his ‘itinerancy’ as a minister after he left Shetland. His daughter, Margaret, was born in Shetland the same year as I was! A couple of days later I had a phone call and Margaret and her husband came to visit us here in Hillswick. Another daughter of the manse returning to her birth place!
I shared this on the Shetland Methodist facebook page and was then contacted by Louis Johnson from East Yell chapel. He and his family had lived in the North Roe School House for many years whilst he was the headteacher at the school. They worshiped at North Roe and had heard about my father – and even of me as the last ‘peerie bairn’ to live in the manse. So we went to East Yell for service last Sunday and there discovered that the retired deacon (from Bradford – near Shipley where I lived as a teenager) who took the service was a close friend of my cousin’s daughter who is also a Methodist deacon. She had taken Katherine to North Roe to show her where her great-uncle had lived when she visited Shetland recently!
We have, of course, also been making new connections – two folk from North Roe remembered us from the last time we visited. We have now visited them in their Shetland home and heard about their experiences of moving to Shetland and the important role the Methodist church has played in their lives both in Yorkshire and in Shetland.
Whilst as a daughter of the manse I have not had much opportunity to put down roots I can feel a sense of loving connection with the people and the places of my childhood – that’s good!