In a small neighbourhood of Low Leighton, just on the outskirts of New Mills, an unexpected musical group of ukulele players is uplifting the spirits at Low Leighton Methodist Church.


The vision started with a single, daring idea that has since struck a chord with the community. The musical movement was fuelled by an insightful read of the “21st Century Church,” recommended by Rev Anthony Clowes.  Kevin Hawley, a dedicated church member, approached Rev Keith Sandow with what he described as a “crazy idea.” Yet, in the spirit of innovation, Rev Keith embraced it declaring, “nothing is crazy if the Spirit has placed the idea on your heart.” The Church Council agreed, cementing the church’s commitment to explore uncharted territories.


With a flash, the Caleb Team allocated a £500 grant towards the project, igniting an unquenchable flame of this ambitious project. Kevin said, “ The response was instantaneous and overwhelmingly positive, with 25 people expressing their interest overnight.” The group of ukulele enthusiasts, now nearly 40 strong, gathers bi-monthly on Monday evenings, delving into the world of music with eagerness and lots of smiles and laughter. Remarkably, most of these individuals had never even held a ukulele before, but they quickly grasped the basics, strumming out tunes and hymns within minutes after learning just three simple chords.


The ukulele group has since become a cornerstone of community gatherings.  They have played for a Christmas carol service and captivated a circuit gathering at an annual Festival of Light and Water last January. Many now play during monthly family services. On average, 15 spirited players perform at the church’s breakfast services, often bringing along their families, weaving a deeper sense of community and fellowship.


Rev Keith is amazed by this phenomenal journey, noting the transformation from despondency to hope within the church. “It’s like witnessing “the joy of joy”, meaning the churches joyous reaction as they witnesses the joy of this group.


Launching the Ukulele group has had a profound impact on the ukulele players and the congregation. One new participant said at the end of his first rehearsal, “I have not had this much fun in years”!


The sound of ukuleles strumming, blended with voices, has indeed infused the church and community with a sense of rejuvenation and boundless joy.


As the Low Leighton Methodist Church strides forward, it embraces its new found identity: “The Ukulele Church.”


This is a good news testimony of how a simple idea has given birth to a vision of inclusivity, fun, and meaningful worship that appeals to visitors and congregants alike.


Everyone who attends the breakfast service is invited to pick up an instrument, learn a C chord and strum along to secular and sacred tunes that transcend traditional worship practices.


The church hopes to become a beacon for those seeking joy and fellowship in a world that often seems devoid of such opportunities. The ukulele, with its gentle, joyful sound, has become more than just an instrument; it’s a symbol of unity, hope with boundless potential to reinvigorate a community church.