Castle Eden Methodist Circuit has announced a groundbreaking partnership to preserve and revitalize Horden Methodist Church for community use. The Circuit has extended an invitation to its congregation to attend weekly services at other churches within the Circuit, while Ensemble ‘84, a new and innovative theatre group, will use Horden Methodist Church as its base.

Led by renowned director Mark Dornford-May, known for his work with the South African-based Isango Ensemble, Ensemble ‘84 aims to create inclusive productions that reflect the diverse communities of County Durham and resonate with audiences worldwide.

According to Dornford-May, “Ensemble ’84’s decision to establish our base at Horden Methodist Church is rooted in our belief in the transformative power of community-driven art. Just as we witnessed in South Africa, where Isango Ensemble became a catalyst for change and empowerment, we see Horden Methodist Church as a beacon of possibility.”

The partnership between Castle Eden Methodist Circuit and Ensemble ‘84 marks a significant milestone in the realization of the theatre group’s vision. By providing a space for artistic exploration and community collaboration, Horden Methodist Church will continue to serve as a hub for community gatherings and special acts of worship, such as weddings and funerals.

Reverend Bev Hollings, a Methodist minister, expressed her enthusiasm for the partnership, stating, “This collaboration represents a significant milestone for Horden Methodist Church and the wider community. By welcoming Ensemble ‘84 into our space, we are supporting the arts and ensuring the church’s continued use for generations to come.”

The Castle Eden Circuit has already seen success with a similar partnership with Focus Easington at The Welcome Centre, which remains the home of Easington Colliery Methodist Church. These initiatives reflect the Circuit’s dedication to fostering meaningful connections and maximizing its resources’ potential to benefit the congregation and the wider community.

As Ensemble ‘84 prepares to take its productions from Horden to stages around the world, the Circuit invites its members and the community to support this exciting venture.

Ensemble ‘84 is one of eight initiatives in County Durham under the Into the Light Programme, which aims to drive long-lasting growth through creative collaboration. Over the next three years, the programme will cultivate talent, widen access to creative education, enhance skills, and break down barriers in the creative industries.

Funded by The National Lottery through Arts Council England, the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, and Durham University, Into the Light is set to bring about positive change in the community.

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