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Songs of Praise

New Year Promises

Duration: 34 minutes

First broadcast: on BBC One HDLatest broadcast: on BBC One Channel Islands

The Rev Kate Bottley visits the New Room in Bristol, which, despite its name, is the oldest Methodist Chapel in the world. It is where John Wesley began the Methodist movement over 250 years ago.

Kate speaks to historian Gary Best and learns about Wesley’s radical preaching and passion for social justice. She finds out about how he devised a special ‘covenant’ service that is still used by millions of Christians to mark each new year. Kate also meets 19-year-old Thelma Commey, the current Youth President of the Methodist Church, to hear what the covenant service means to young Methodists today.

The determination to help the poor and marginalised was continued by many of John Wesley’s Methodist clergy, and Sean Fletcher goes to London to discover a story that began exactly 150 years ago. Methodist minister Rev Thomas Bowman Stephenson was so moved by the plight of poor children in Victorian London that he set up a home for them. It quickly grew to become the National Children’s Home and is now the charity Action for Children. Sean visits the spot in east London where the first major home stood and meets the current trustee, Daleep Mukarji. He also chats to Antiques Roadshow expert Ronnie Archer-Morgan to hear about the huge and positive impact he believes living in a Christian children’s home had on his childhood.

For Epiphany Sunday, we visit a remarkable project on Teesside. Using the imagery of Epiphany – stars and light in the darkness – One More Light is a community initiative that brings people together through music to raise awareness about mental health and suicide.

And back in Bristol, Kate meets four teenage Christians who have just been confirmed as members of their local Methodist church. She finds out what that special step meant to them and why they wanted to join.

O for a Thousand Tongues - Albert Hall, Nottingham
The Creed - Christ Church, Downend, Bristol
His Eye Is on the Sparrow - Jermain Jackman
I Am the Gentle Light - Anglesey Youth Choir
O Jesus I Have Promised - Reading Town Hall
And Can It Be - Leicester De Montford Hall
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Kate Bottley
Executive Producer:
Cat Lewis
Executive Producer:
Emyr Afan
Series Producer:
Matthew Napier
David Waters
Production Company:
Avanti Media

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