The United Church Dorchester

United in faith, united in action

News and reports

Read below about some of the most important issues and developments within the United Church and beyond.




United Church Dorchester: Coronavirus updates and changes to activities

In the light of current Coronavirus advice from the UK Government and various public bodies, the following changes to usual Church life have been agreed:

All Church Services, events, activities and meetings have now been cancelled or postponed. Indeed, following guidance from the national Methodist Church, and the national URC Churchthe United Church Dorchester building remains closed for the immediate future (though see 'Church opening for private prayer' below).

There are two groups for whom an exception is being made (in line with Government guidance): Solutions meetings and Blood Donor sessions. All other groups, activities and lettings have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Church opening for private prayer

Government and church guidelines now allow us to open the church for private prayer. We have decided to open the church on Sundays and Wednesdays from 11.30am to 12.30pm, and will start on Sunday, 5th July.

If you wish to come in to pray, entry will only be through the main doors from South Street. In the foyer, a steward will require that you use the hand gel which we will provide, and offer you a face covering if you do not have your own. In the church, there will be only about fourteen, well-spaced chairs. When you wish to leave, please exit via the door at the front to the right of the organ, and turn sharp right to go down the alleyway back to South Street.

All doors will be propped open so there will be no need for you to touch the door handles. All bibles and hymn books will be removed. You may, of course, bring your own. The toilets will not be available.

Worshipping at home

For those who would like to follow Church Services from home, please see our Services information. This includes links to various options, covering on-line access, radio broadcasts and TV programmes – with both local and national provision.

Support system for church members

The pastoral committee has been looking at a variety of ways to support all our members during the rapidly changing situation with regard to Coronavirus. 

We are operating a support service for anyone who needs it – if you are vulnerable due to age, health issues or in a household needing to isolate due to possible infection then this support is for you.

We have a willing team of people comprising younger folk under 70 who can shop, collect prescriptions, post mail or any other urgent task.  Please don’t struggle on alone or put yourself at risk, particularly as shopping may involve lengthy queueing.  We are here to help.

To access support, please contact Peter & Gill Robinson who are coordinating the volunteers: their email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Keeping in touch

We have managed to work out how to create ‘virtual’ or online meetings for groups of church members. Many of us will be used to using things like Skype or Facetime for one-to-one video calls, and we have now found a way of doing something similar but with larger groups.

So we have been holding a virtual or online ‘coffee and chat’ session – and successfully meeting three times a week, at 11.00 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For a little more information, including details of how we can support you through the logistics, please see the Coffee and Chat information sheet.

If you think you might be interested in joining this group (on any of the days), please just email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Local Food banks

You may wish to support local food banks, whose role is particularly significant at the moment - you can offer to work as a volunteer, to help with referrals, or to donate either food or money. The information sheet about local food bank provision contains details of three local systems, and how you can contribute directly or in kind.

Making face mask extenders

The Southampton District of the Methodist church has asked for help in creating mask extenders for our brave frontline workers. These extenders ensure a more secure fit, whilst taking pressure off the ears which are sore from constant mask- wearing. Please see more information on our 'Mindfulness during Coronavirus' pages.

Making knitted angels 

Although Christmas may be a long way off, please think about making knitted angels to support our work with Action for Children. We hope to share as many as we can through our Christmas events, and to spread our message of hope and love. For more details, please see our 'Mindfulness during Coronavirus' pages

Our thoughts are with all of those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic around the world, and we pray for health, healing and peace for all. As part of our thanks to all key workers, the current Church window on South Street has a rainbow theme:




Support, contacts and information during Coronavirus pandemic

The Pastoral Committee of the United Church Dorchester has produced an information sheet which covers Health and well being, Financial help and Other useful contacts. In particular, the information summarises contact details for a range of possible concerns, including telephone numbers, email addresses and web sites.

Please do refer to it if you have any significant concerns during the current pandemic, or you are not sure about who can help or how you can contact the right people. 



District Methodist Church: Coronavirus guidance and resources

The Southampton Methodist District has confirmed that it continues to follow both government and MCH guidance. The Methodist guidance has been updated today, covering a wide range of advice and links about Coronavirus issues, with a special focus on their implications for Church life.

In addition, the District has warned that scammers are taking advantage of the general Coronavirus situation, and are targeting vulnerable people. An information and advice document has therefore been produced, which explains what to be aware of, and how to protect yourself against these scams. It might also be useful to visit the latest advice from Ofcom, which explains what people should expect from a genuine 'Test and Trace' call from the NHS - we understand that this has recently been a particular target for scammers.

Methodist ministers have also been provided with guidance on how to safe on line - given the number of us moving to on line contacts, it's useful for all of us!

Something positive to do: if you are looking for ideas on how to use your time, and want to contribute something positive, you might like to get involved with the District's Fishing for Hope initiative. Essentially, the idea is for everyone to create a fish prayer object, using whatever is available in your home. In the future, they may all be gathered together, but in the meantime pictures can be shared on line with the hashtag #fishingforhope2020. An information sheet is available with more details and lots of ideas - including how to knit or crochet a fish!



Wessex Synod URC Church: Coronavirus guidance and resources

The Wessex Synod of the URC Church has confirmed that it continues to follow government and national URC guidance. The Wessex Synod guidance has been updated regularly, covering a wide range of advice and links about Coronavirus issues, with a special focus on their implications for Church life.





Rev Steph Jenner / Rev John Yarrien

Unfortunately, Rev Steph Jenner has had to stop work due to ill health; the Advent Service on 1 December was a fitting tribute to her work with the church and wider community. 

We always hoped to have her replacement ready to begin work on 1 September 2020, so it is with great pleasure we can announce that Rev John Yarrien will become our next Minister from September 2020, subject to approval at Methodist Conference.

 Our New Minister

We look forward to welcoming Rev John and his wife Cora. John will be the Minister here at the United Church and will also be Superintendent of the Dorset South and West Methodist Circuit.

John worked for Hampshire County Council as an IT manager before training for ministry at Durham Cranmer Hall. Cora is an ordained Anglican Vicar. They are both very excited to be moving to Dorset with their two Labradors and look forward to becoming part of the community here.



Farewell service for Rev Pete and Debs Brazier

Rev Pete and Debs Brazier will be leaving their respective positions within the Circuit at the end of July, when they move to a new life in Leeds. We are all very grateful for the significant contributions they have made in Portland, Dorchester and across the wider Circuit area, and wish them well as they venture to the north.

A United Service to say 'thank you' had originally been planned for Sunday 12 July, but that clearly cannot now happen. Instead, there will be a Service on Sunday 19th July, which will be held via Zoom. If you would like be part of this event, please email Rev Gwyneth Owen (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and ask for the Zoom meeting details.




News from Traidcraft

Traidcraft continue to thrive in their new, slimmed down company. The Spring/Summer catalogue is now out, containing a complete range of Fairtrade foods, gifts and clothing. There is a new range of cards in the Church Shop and the ever-popular Real Easter Eggs are available, containing an Easter Story booklet as well as the yummy Fairtrade chocolate.

Some items are temporarily out of stock as Traidcraft continue to source from new suppliers, but do please come in and see what is available and help to support the Fairtrade movement. Just by buying a box of teabags or some honey you are helping producers worldwide to raise their standard of living: a contract with Traidcraft gives them access to legal, health and environmental advice, encourages them to form cooperatives and guarantees a fair price for their produce.

The new catalogue is available online or pop in and pick up a copy from the United Church Shop.


Homelessness information leaflet

People First Dorset has produced an updated version of their ‘Easy Read’ leaflet about homelessness. This provides clear guidance on how we can all help people we see on the streets who might be homeless.

Please note that the advice refers primarily to homelessness, and not to street begging. Although Streetlink is the main point of contact for offering support to homeless people, alternative organisations (including the police) can be alerted to persistent begging from people who are known not to be homeless.


We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our Privacy Policy.

I accept cookies from this site

EU Cookie Directive Plugin Information