An Island Parish Finally Talks to the Methodists

methodistchapel.jpg

If I were part of the Methodist Church on the Isles of Scilly, I’m sure I’d be decidedly annoyed with Nigel Farrell and the team behind An Island Parish. Up to now, the fact that there is a thriving Methodist Church on the islands, has been largely ignored by the programme. As I commented at the end of the first series Rev David Easton appeared in the background but isn’t acknowledged, and in the first episode of the second series appears only once making a joke in a Church service. After that, I nearly fell off my chair this week when he appeared in the programme more than Rev Guy – indeed you realised that some of the footage of Rev Guy has been filmed in the Methodist Chapel, and also how close the two church buildings are – if you look at the picture you can see the Anglican Church in the background, barely two minutes walk up the street!

I have to say though, that it has taken rather a tragedy to get some more balanced coverage. Earlier in the series the mechanic on the local lifeboat tragically died of a heart attack, deeply affecting the community. When it happened, Nigel Farrell interviewed Rev Guy, but then the commentary highlighted that it wasn’t Rev Guy that did the funeral. The family involved asked Rev David to do the service instead. To be rather brutal about it, the programme had to talk to the Methodists in order to actually get a continuation to that story. So as a result, this week we had a lot of discussion with Rev David, as the daughter of the family was brought to baptism, again in the Methodist Church.

He didn’t just appear without introduction, you had some shots in his Manse, and some establishing footage of him preparing for his role in the island panto. The commentary even mentioned the Anglican/Methodist Covenant that was signed nationally in 2003, and highlighted that when Rev Guy is absent, his congregation holds a joint service with the Methodists down the street. If all of this has been happening, it seems increasingly odd that he hasn’t featured more sooner.

Perhaps the An Island Parish team have wanted to simplify things – but if they have, I do think that they have simplified things rather too much by effectively sidelining the Methodist Church. Maybe the local superintendent and the local circuit didn’t provide support in the same way as the Diocese of Truro has done (only the Diocese is on this weeks credits). However, it is pretty apparent that Rev Guy and Rev David work quite closely together – another part of the programme shows them jointly leading a Remembrance Service – surely it would be a more accurate representation of life in the parish to show the two denominations working together rather than what has been done up to now. We’ll have to see whether this continues in the weeks to come.

43 thoughts on “An Island Parish Finally Talks to the Methodists”

  1. I’ve just see the last in the series of Island Parish – and was deeply touched by David Easton’s disappointment of not being re-elected to stay as the Methodist Minister on the Scilly’s. I knew David in the early 1970s when we worked together on beach missions in Perranporth, Cornwall, and I would love to get in touch with him again. Is that possible? I wonder where he is now. I work as a Pastor in the Anglican church here in Norfolk.
    Do pass on my email address to David if you can.

  2. The Methodist Church on the Isles of Scilly should be ashamed of itself for the way it has treated this lovely man. I found the whole programme deeply distressing.

    I have been a Methodist all of my life and I know about the pettiness that goes on in church communities.

    Can anyone tell me what happened next to the Rev David Easton?

  3. Yes, I’m not at all religious let alone a Methodist but was very upset about Rev David Easton losing his job there. Where is he now, hope he has found a nice ministry, the Scillies were lucky to have him.

  4. If you search for the Scilly Methodist website you will find it and you will find that David will still be there until sometime in the future when an exchange of ministry will take place.
    It is rather unwise to comment on the situation based only on the information that the TV programme has chosen to release to us. As for a condemnation of the local church there – when we actually know actually very little of the situation, please remember that this was not the wish of a majority of the church or the community – just not a sufficient majority. David himself has behaved with dignity and restraint; but he is obviously deeply hurt by all this and without doubt the very public nature of TV coverage has added to this.Our concerns and efforts might be better expressed in our prayers for him and for the substantial remainder of the island and church community that will also be deeply disappointed by this decision.

    1. All these plaitudes still eminate from the Methodist clergy. What a spineless group. With the majority of the church community in favour of a person like David Easton, why on earth submit to a group of bigots and have him removed. These people are not brave enough to stand up and tell David why they have voted they way they have.

  5. Yes, please can you find out what has happened to Rev. David Easton and where is he serving now – a follow up programme detailing this would be interesting. He must be an outstanding man – we learned in the prgrammes that he has a Ph.D., and I think the stole he was wearing in one of the last programmes, at the departure of his friends, the Revs. Donald and Margaret, was one indicating a forces chaplaincy if I am not mistaken, so he has probably servd in the forces for part of his ministry.

    As a daughter of the manse myself (my father was a Methodist Minister) I know how unsettling it is to have to wait to be invited for a further period or not, as the case may be, and then to find out either where you are wanted and invited elsewhere, or where the Methodist Conference will merely send you. My schooling ws disrupted to a certain extent becasue of this way of moving. In the old days, early 20th Century and before, ministers were expected to stay only for a tour of 3 years before moving on, and this had its roots in the travelling pattern of John Wesley’s ministry. Ministers still talk about having travelled so many years in their service. During my childhood it had become a bit more common for a church to invite its minister for a second lot of 3 years, and six years is often the time when a congregation seem to feel the need for a change, even though they still like and respect their current minister – it harks back to the old pattern. During WWII there was a “standstill order” from Conference, the prime executive body of the Methodist Church, when most ministers remined in their posts for the duration unless vacancies for various reasons impelled changes.

    When I was a child, as well as the furnishings in the manse belonging to the church, so did all the linen cutlery, pots and pans, china etc. All you took when you moved were your clothes, books and toys. This was part of the “travelling” syndrome. By the end of WWII, however, ministers were ordered to keep whatever linen, cutlery and china was in the manse as their own and take it on with them, thus only the furnishings remained as provided.

  6. I share the shock of the room too! I suppose you never know what goes on behind closed doors. I do wonder at the involvement of the new head of the methodist church who had come over from Truro for the re-election process. Was it just me, or did he ooze insincerity?

  7. i am not religious but i am baffled at the treatment of David Easton.Where Christian compassion figured i do not know. Is the vicar gay ?This is the only logic .

  8. As a C of E priest I too was shocked at David’s treatment. Goodness knows, there’s plenty wrong with the C of E, but we do not treat good sincere ministers with that degree of cruelty. If you have a parish freehold you’re there until you’re 70 if you choose to be. And what happened to Guy Scott? According to the Truro Diocesan web site he is still there, but he didn’t feature at all in the last series. I think we should be told!

  9. I so agree with Richard Sigrist (26thDec08). It was very uncomfortable viewing to see such a dear man as David humiliated on tv. Also,When the main character in a series becomes invisible, even at the older chaplains farewell service, the viewers deserve an explanation. I don’t think this series will have helped the tourist industry on Scilly which is a shame because it is such a wonderfully relaxing and beautiful place.

  10. David Easton is obviously a sensitive and caring person and how sad that he should have been treated in such a callous way. I pray he is guided to a community who are more appreciative of his talents. I did find the head of the Truro District somewhat sinister and creepy – I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable in his presence.

  11. Hello

    I am a writer doing an article on the methodist ministry and how disruptive the ‘deployment’ method can be for a methodist minister and his family (as highlighted by David Easton’s story). I was wondering if I can take Dorothy Latham’s comment to use in my article (which will be published by Unite the magazine) as it illustrates well the upheaval caused).

    Thank you
    Charlotte

  12. I hold no religious views – indeed I regard the worship, praise and faith-without-evidence aspects of religions as being irrelevant to 21st Century life, even though religions have a lot to say as (secular) codes for living together.

    Despite this, I think the way in which David Easton was treated by the Methodist Church and by the minority of islanders who made the decision was deeply disturbing and insulting to him and to the majority of his congregation. What is most disturbing is that no decision is allowed to be given publicly.

    That is fundamentally wrong: any organisation which hides behind the excuse of "no reason needs to be given" and which trusts its decisions to a small committee instead of a referendum of the whole "electorate" is unworthy of respect. Accountability and transparency are essential. David Easton, his parishioners and even, vicariously, the viewers of Island Parish, deserve a lot better from the Methodist Church.

  13. Despite not being a Christian I respect sincerity. David Eaton comes over as a good, caring minister. What has gone wrong? I agree with the comment about the chappie from Truro who seemd to bend forward and rub his hands in manner reminiscent of Shylock. What a waste of a nice man. If he is 'gay' so what? Did it make any difference to the way he did his job?

  14. Conspiracy theories will develop if the reason for 'sacking' this thoroughly nice man is not made public. It's time the Methodists rethought a few things. Perhaps he'll be promoted to Bishop of Truro and replace the present incumbent. The poor chap must feel not only let down by a mysterious 'few' but embarassed by the focus of attention. I bet he was chatted up by some old biddy who didn't care for a refusal. Good luck to him.

  15. Call yourself's christian, you for me have just summed up why I need no part of it, you are all I wish not to be. The Rev David is better than all of you will ever be, he will get a better post where people will take him to there heart, as for the leader of the church from Truro, he makes my flesh shiver, how did he get the job, resign now and let David take over.

  16. I believe David Easton is now in charge of St Pauls Methodist Centre in Aberystywth, where I grew up and my parents still attend.

  17. I know of no other job where you can be dismissed without being told why, and where there is no appeal.It is against all natural justice that a secret few can act like this. I understand David has gone to Aberystwyth .
    I wish him well

  18. If I had been in David Easton's position I would have felt devastated. He appeared to be liked by all he met, regardless of whether they were from the Methodist Chapel or even non-church members. I do wonder how the next Minister will settle or even will anyone wish to apply for the job!
    Good Luck to David in his new post. I hope that his sincerity and empathy with people will be appreciated.

  19. As an avid follower of An Island Parish, I too was amazed at the decision to dispense with the kind, caring, charming and professional David Easton. Although not a Methodist myself I am open to all Christian beliefs and worship. It is quite a disgrace that in this “enlighted” day and age a person can be dismissed from their place of work (and home) without the courtesy of an explanation. How on earth can someone expect to learn from their “mistakes” if they are not privy to them. Does the Methodist Church believe this to be a true and honest way to treat people? Toying with their lives at a whim? I sincerely wish David a long and happy association with his latest “posting” and hope the people in his new community appreciate him as a man, Minister and friend and confidant.
    I also agree with the previous postings regarding the Head of the Methodists Church at Truro. From a female’s point of view he comes across as very creepy, insincere and certainly full of his own importance. There is something very “Uriah Heep” about his whole demeaner. Not the type of character I would feel too disposed to trust. But of course, that is just a personal opinion. Maybe when he is not being a “celebrity” he portrays a different persona – though I doubt it!!

  20. HOW CAN THOSE THAT DISMISSED DAVID EASTON CALL THEMSELVES CHRISTIANS. THEY OBTAINED POWER THEN ABUSED IT. IS IT ANY WONDER THAT CHURCH ATTENDANCES CONTINUE YOU TO FALL. AFTER ALL THE HURT THAT HAS BEEN CAUSED CANNOT SOMEONE FIND OUT ON WHAT BASIS THESE COWARDS THAT HIDE BEHIND SECRECY CAME TO COMMIT THIS HENIOUS ACT

  21. The truth will out regarding David Easton’s treatment. In this age of technology there is no possible way the reasons behind his departure will remain a ‘secret’ ! Patience is all that is required.

  22. Can’t figure it out. Why did they let David Easton go? What I really like about the man is how he has handled the situation. He has reacted with great dignity and in the end justice will prevail. He will be admired wherever he goes as a charming friendly and caring man. I only wish him well.

  23. what a kind and dedicated man David Easton Is, the congregation should be ashamed of themselves they should have stood up to the power crazed mean minded devils,because they certainly are no christians.

  24. I can assure you the congregation and indeed whole community did stand up to David's dismissal but were told that this was how the methodist circuit decided minster's fates and so be it. All I know is that the members of the committee who voted against him voted on a personal basis and not representatively of the congretation and community as they should have. This is not the doing of the island community, only of a few with personal bias and not to do with the minister's sexualtiy.

    1. I don’t know how any one can judge a minister’s strengths, or the needs of his churches, which hardly featured at all, on the basis of watching a few TV soundbites. When I read things like the ‘whole community’ think this and that, I get worried. Doubtless David’s profile was raised by being on TV. Did these vocal community members of go to his churches, did they see his work as a whole in the light of his job description, did they pay his salary? How can they possibly know then what the future needs of his congregations are?
      I see that his successor as minister has on his website a note along the lines that the the door of our manse is always open there will always be a place of welcome with a listening ear. Scilly Methodists, you are lucky people to now have someone like that. Sounds as though you have a gem. Most ministers are available by appointment only!

  25. IN NORMAL EMPLOYMENT LAW A PERSON DISMISSED HAS TO HAVE BEEN SUBJECT TO VERBAL AND WRITTEN WARNINGS OTHERWISE THE DISMISSAL IS CONSIDERED UNFAIR AND THE PERSON IS ENTITLED TO REINSTATEMENT. DOES THE METHODIST CHURCH CONSIDER ITSELF ABOVE THE LAW ? PERHAPS THOSE AT THE TOP SHOULD BE ASKED THEIR POSITION.

  26. David is such a smashing chap and handled the situation with such dignity.He has risen above the unfortunate circumstances on scilly.
    Im sure that he will be welcomed in his new parish .

    1. The previous correspondents don't seem to understand that Methodist ministers have to move on quite regularly – its called itinerancy. This normally happens after 5 years. Sometimes they are voted an extra two years. Exceptionally if there are special reasons they can be voted for a further extension. That doesn't happen very often because usually either the minister or his churches may want a change. David had his five years plus two years and hundreds of Methodist ministers move on each year in the same way that he did. Why should he be an exception and why the torrent of abuse towards Steve Wild, the Methodist head of Cornwall? He didn't invent the system. Undoubtedly he would have explained it on camera but has probably been edited out, for a good story line. Those on this thread for whom David is a goodie and Steve is a baddie should go back to watching Coronation Street. I think David would be appalled to see some of the abuse above directed at Steve who for many years was a popular local minister in Cornwall.

  27. When will people on this thread understand that David, in common with thousands of Methodist ministers is itinerant – that is they are contractually required to move about? Mr Stevenson and others just don’t ‘get it’. They can’t simply stay in one post for as long as they choose. Normally they stay 5 years in one place and sometimes they are voted on for another 2 years as David was. Sometimes exceptionally a post is extended after 7 years – but usually by then either the church leaders want someone with different strengths to take them in a new direction, or the minister wants a change. David was one of hundreds of ministers who moved on in this way last year, after 7 years, plenty of them reluctantly. It is a great pity that this system was not explained on camera by Steve Wild the Methodist head of Cornwall – but perhaps he did and was edited out to help the story line and make a big drama out of it. He did not make up the rules and I’m sure that David would be horrified to read how Steve has been referred to in these columns. Steve was for years a very popular local minister in Cornwall is a thoroughly decent man.

    1. MAYBE IT IS THE SYSTEM BUT THERE IS THE COMMOM COURTESY OF BEING TOLD WHY THIS DECISION WAS TAKEN. DAVID IS ENTITLED TO AN EXPLANATION, WHAT DID HE DO THAT UPSET THE POWERFUL MINORITY. THE SYSTEM IS STILL CONTRARY TO THE LAW.

      1. Most ministers, as in David's case, do not stay more than 7 years.There is often no single reason why a minister may not exceptionally stay for more than 7, but a combination of factors makes it time for a change. How does Mr Stevenson know he was not given reasons – if you remember on David on camera said that he doubted whether he would be invited to stay on. In many walks of life people while working for the same employer move about. There's nothing illegal about that. How does Mr Stevenson know that the vote did not represent the majority wish?

      2. It simply is not against the law. He is not being fired. He had fulfilled a contract, having been intivited for a set number of years. You can then request to stay longer and the commitee then decides yes or no. It is not a sign of dislike or pettiness if they say no.
        Furthermore he still has a job, it is not a firing situation at all. Simply moving to a new place to continue his job.

        The church expects ministers to move around, the idea is not become stagnant or stuck in the traditions of one minister.

        It also means you share around some of the best ministers rather than one church keeping them to themselves. 🙂

  28. I am not a minister, but I do know that the minister is often obedient to what the church wants; therefore civil employment laws don't really come into it. They will go with grace, prayer and silence, even if it feels terribly unfair or it is inexplicable. It is no good trying to preach to a body of people who have hardened their hearts to a minister, no matter how much he is loved by others in the community. It is those with the hardened hearts who need to hear The Word mostly. Therefore they really do need a new minister more than they themselves know they do. The church doesn't work like other organisations, a call for a new minister exposes the content of everyone's heart, mind and soul. The salvation of souls is still high on the agenda and the church is responding to this. I know it seems a little odd to an outsider, and to those of a congregation who love a minister. However, it's in everyone's best interests to have those with the hardened hearts ministered to. Those who know Christ and understand that it is about Him first and foremost also know that they will get another minister reading from the same book., even though they will be sad. Their faith will be sustained through ministry to one another until the new minister takes up their position.

    God has plans for the departing minister and often such oustings are the catalyst for these plans coming into effect.

    If this intrigues you and you want to know more about God's mysterious ways, the way to salvation or even to visit a local Christian church with the view to joining (perhaps to become the person making decisions eventually) do just go, everyone is welcome CofE, Methodist, baptist, URC etc…..
    http://www.findachurch.co.uk/home/home.php

    If you don't meet love there stay and take love there through your love of The Lord Jesus Christ.

    God bless

  29. One should not take a TV program like this as an accurate record of what happens. Programs are edited to make them more interesting and quite often present a very un-balanced view of events. Things are changed for greater effect if the programme makers think they can get away with it. I noticed that a photograph of a 19th century fisherman that was included to give context was in fact taken around Whitby – I have it in a book. I wonder how many more inaccuracies have been allowed to achieve what the programme makers wanted.

  30. This TV programme did not and could not tell us the full story of any of the characters it features. What was happening the other 99.99….% of the time when the cameras were not recording? All the characters are romanticised or portrayed in a favourable and sympathetic light. Did we see anyone lose their rag, or get things horribly wrong – no of course not. Most of the filming was done on sunny days in Spring and Summer. What about their lives during the remaining two thirds of the year when island life can be an isolated, wet, misty and lonely existence?

  31. I'm not sure why people are posting about employment laws since David Easton wasn't dismissed, he was merely transferred, as is the case for many Methodist ministers each year, not to mention all manner of employees in many industries. It's not against the law.

    As other posters have said, Methodist ministry is intended to be itinerant and he had been in post for many years. So no "explanation" needed – as a Methodist minister he would be aware of how the system works. BTW I am no Methodist and have no axe to grind, I just decided to educate myself about how it works.

Leave a Reply