Pannal Methodist Church Story

by Pannal Methodist Church
Posted at 10:13am on 11th September 2023


Pannal methodist church stands at the junction of Spring Lane and Burn Bridge Road in Pannal Harrogate. It's at a crossroads with the current building now 118 years old approximately half a mile away from the site of the original Wesleyan Chapel where John Wesley preached in 1788.

So the Church has a long history which it continues today moving with the changing times and always looking to answer the needs of 21st Century community life.

The difficult years of the Covid Pandemic were suffered by us all personally and organisations such as ours in many different ways. With the uncertainties of those early days churches across the world closed their doors and were found wanting at a time when the need for help was most needed. Wounds created that have needed time and sensitivity to heal an ongoing process even now.

At Pannal Methodist Church those same wounds existed and as the restrictions eased and we were able to open our doors and welcome people back there remained questions about the viability of the Church future.

However, with the enthusiasm of our minister Ben Clowes, the commitment of both the Church community and the external organisations who had previously used the Church buildings, life has returned with an exciting variety of different activities now taking place every day of the week.

With this enthusiasm comes responsibility to ensure that the Church buildings which include the worship space, hall, devotional room, kitchen and the garden outside are well maintained and where necessary improved and upgraded.


The Church

Services are held every Sunday of the year at 10am.

We have our own minister Ben Clowes. Ben is also Superintendent Minister of the Nidd Valley Methodist Circuit so his responsibilities and duties are significant. Whilst Ben leads at least one service each month, Clair our Local Lay Pastor, Lay Preachers and other Methodist Ministers lead worship on those Sundays when Ben is elsewhere. Our congregation is generally being between 30 and 35 people.

For many years we had both a Junior Church and Creche run by members of the congregation. With falling numbers of families with children and young adults the decision was taken to close both of those for the time being but always in the hope that over time in the future we will be able to attract families once more.

For now we hold our annual Christingle Childrens Service at the beginning of December. Pannal Primary school Choir perform and the Church is full to capacity for a joyous occasion.

We have a close working relationship with St Roberts C of E Church in Pannal supporting one anothers events, having biannual pulpit swaps where Ben leads their service and either their Vicar or Curate leads ours and hold a joint Palm Sunday Service with half of the service being held in each church with a parade through the village behind Nigel the donkey a real one named after the previous vicar at St Roberts!

We have regular lunches after Sunday services where everyone brings either soups they have been asked to make or delicious puddings.

Our bible study groups meet in church members homes.

Our craft group meets monthly and is open to anybody who would like to attend. Over the years the group have created many beautiful banners with different and relevant banners being hung by them in church every Sunday. The group provides a great opportunity for people to meet and chat, share their stories and maybe concerns whilst at the same time being distracted by the task in hand.

A group of mature church members started a walking group a number of years ago “ Pannal Plodders“ this has expanded over the years and now includes many folk from the wider community. They meet monthly, go for their walk and finish with lunch at either a café or pub depending on where their route has taken them.


Community Teas

Community teas are held in the hall once a month with approximately 30 people attending. The majority of those people that come are not people who come to church but live in or around the villages of Pannal & Burn Bridge. Many live on their own so the social connection is very important.

There is no charge to attend but donations to a chosen charity are invited. Pre Covid between September 2016 and July 2019 more that £1,800 was raised and shared amongst 8 charities. Post Covid beginning gradually in May 2022 just over £1,300 has been shared between Open Country, Horticap, Crisis at Christmas, Carers Resource and Dementia Forward.

A team of helpers make cakes and scones, set up the room with decorated tables which include nice china and flowers and serve.

The teas are now proving so popular that we are holding them every month whereas previously they were stopped in the summer months.


Film nights

Film nights were started about 5 years ago. They are held in the hall on the first Friday of each month. Between 35 and 50 people attend, again form the wider community with many who come saying that they wouldn't normally go to the cinema. We have recently bought a ceiling mounted projector and large screen to improve the experience for everyone. The new audio equipment installation in church was extended into the hall so the set up is now semi professional.

As with the community teas there is no charge for tea/coffee and biscuits served at the end but donations are welcomed with those funds raised going towards running the evening and the equipment improvements described.


Burn Bridge Pre School

Burn Bridge Preschool has been operating from Pannal Methodist Church for 38 years. They care for children from the ages of 18 months to 4 years providing early years education for ages through play based activities which follow the Early Years Foundation curriculum.

The Pre School is Ofsted registered and can take up to 30 children per session with children coming from the local and wider communities.

The Preschool is open five days a week and use all areas of the building except the worship space.


1st Pannal Beavers & Squirrels

When their own hall in the village is not available 1st Pannal Beavers & Squirrels use our hall.

The children meet weekly during school term time and are drawn from across Pannal & Burn Bridge and other neighbouring villages.

There are 20 Beavers aged 6 - 8 years old and 15 Squirrels aged 4 - 6 years old.

The children undertake a range of activities designed to provide a quality programme that is varied and builds teamwork, personal confidence, creativity and inquisitiveness. Indoor sessions include crafts, team games, educational topics such as Fair Trade and international communities, and personal health such as fitness and healthy food choices.


Rainbows & Brownies

Pannal Rainbows meet weekly during term time in the hall and cater for children between the ages of 4 & 7. They do a variety of activities both inside the hall and outside in the garden when the weather permits.

2nd Pannal Brownies meet weekly for an hour using the hall and garden. The group is made up of 25 girls from the ages of 7 - 10. The church hall provides a fantastic meeting place for the girls to come together and learn new skills and try out new activities. This year alone they have used the space to play games, had dance lessons, explored beliefs, had an indoor snowball fight, made tents out of chairs and sheets and held a pretend camp, learnt about space, made kites, run science experiments (including making slime in the kitchen) and above all been able to provide a safe space for the girls to make friends.

Whilst many of the girls come from Pannal and Burn Bridge others come from the wider community including the neighbouring rural villages.


Book Club

The Burn Bridge Book Worms was originally set up as an outreach project by one of the church members. They meet monthly with each member of the group presenting their thoughts on the book they have just read. Often this leads to a lively discussion before each person scores the book out of 10.

The discussion is followed by tea/coffee and something to eat.

Liz, who leads the group, says they are a mixed group of people from different backgrounds and their life experiences have been very varied. This leads to conversations about the books sometimes being very challenging.

When the group started the proportion of those from church and those from the wider community were about the same. Now there are more people in the group who have no affiliation to church so the outreach has worked it is not about getting people to come to church but more about providing the opportunity to share time and company with others.


Table Tennis

The table tennis group was founded in 2004 with three players. Burn Bridge Table Tennis Club BBTC now has four teams playing in the Harrogate League and a membership of over 20 regular players with ages ranging from 18 to the oldest player at 88.

In addition to the four league teams who play at PMC every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the season (September to April) on Thursdays there is community table Tennis where anybody of any ability can come along for an evening of gentle exercise . These sessions run from September to July each year.

In response to the contribution of the club to the health and wellbeing of the community the Pannal Parish Council donated a new table tennis table to the club.

The true character of the club is demonstrated in two stories.

In 2017 Rohan a young Indian boy joined the club and quickly demonstrated his aptitude for the sport and in 2022 he was part of the BBTTBC team that won the first division title. Rohan went through the season undefeated with 36 wins to his name. He is now at Nottingham University and plays for the club during his vacations and when his studies permit.

The clubs proudest moment was when Dale Ward, the clubs only female player was named by Table Tennis England as their National Community Volunteer of the year for the time she spends promoting, coaching and encouraging juniors like Rohan to take up the game and progress.

Amongst the many junior coaching sessions she takes a week , one is for Pannal Primary School where years 5 and 6 children are introduced to table tennis.

Without Dales willingness to give of so much of her time to help young players reach their potential the game would be very much the poorer in Harrogate..

The impact on the young people though this nurturing should not be underestimated. Through practice allied to an aspiration to realise their potential and support from someone they respect they learn how to achieve their goals. This is a valuable life lesson and provides a template for other aspects of their development.


Outside Bookings 

These are generally childrens birthday parties with the hall and kitchen being available to book by anyone if available and for a modest charge.



Over the years Pannal Methodist Church has created a vibrant hub at the heart of the Pannal and Burn Bridge Communities for all the activities described. The church members continue to work hard to ensure that the buildings and gardens are well maintained to allow those activities to continue.

The care of the premises is an ongoing exercise with next priority being the upgrading of the kitchen described above. The kitchen is in effect a hub within the hub  being used by all who use the building. Through sharing our story we feel a strong presence of God through our work and those who use the building.