A story from our Chaplains in Marsh Green
On Friday the 17th of February which is Random Acts Of Kindness Day we, as the Marsh Green Community Chaplaincy Team chose to give out chocolates, bags of sweets and flowers to people we came across on our Chaplaincy walk. Who would have thought that these little offerings would have brought such joy. We had a great time, sharing God’s love as we passed on our little gifts and with each one, we passed on a smile, a blessing, and an encouraging word. We did feel however that we received much more in return. We got smiles, thanks and even hugs and some people asked if they could share their gifts with others, one person asking if she could take her flowers and share them with her aunt who is living in a nursing home. Another young person who was offered a bar of chocolate was so grateful that he asked if we would give it to someone else on his behalf. A man gave us sandwiches and drinks to share around the team, so it seems that kindness is catching.
Random Acts Of Kindness Day was a wonderful way to share God’s love to the community around us. There was plenty of giving and receiving , there was fun, peace, conversation, and a deep joy in serving the people of Marsh Green through the Chaplaincy Team. It gave us a real sense of doing what we feel God has called us to do by meeting people where they are and showing them the love of God.
We would also like to add our thanks to Partners Foundation and the many individuals from churches who helped us with this by donating about 80 gifts and offerings for us to share.
Louise Ashcroft tells us about a Warm Space at St James’ Church.
Warm spaces started in October at St James’ church, and this means that when Toms pantry is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and on Friday mornings, we offer the church as a warm space. We also serve warm drinks and hot food, because we started to see that there was a need for more than just a space to sit in the warmth. We have lots of young families with babies and toddlers who would otherwise be stuck in their own homes and our warm space give them the opportunity to meet with others in similar circumstances.
I set up a baby/toddler room in the office space and asked for donations of baby toys, bouncers etc and we had an amazing response to this. We are now equipped with a lovely area where parents or carers can come, let their children play in a safe, warm environment and also enjoy lots of company. They also then can leave with a food shop from the pantry to take home.
Almost instantly we saw a huge uptake in the use of our warm space, and in the very first week we had a parent come into church who hadn’t stepped foot inside before. She was welcomed with open arms and before leaving had booked her toddler in to be baptised in the new year!
Those who come along to our space very offer take advantage of our pantry and they can leave with a food shop to take home. People who usually come along to the pantry end up staying and chatting with those who have come to use the warm space, so that new friendships are made. We are finding that people are also giving back, as they love to help out, with many offering their time and financial assistance.
I do believe that welcome is everything, and that most people make their minds up about a new place in the first minute of being there. Having our beautiful church open and creating a warm, welcoming, safe space for families is invaluable. This also creates space for the Holy Spirit to move, friendships to be made, help and support to be offered and faith to be explored.
We are much more than a warm space, we are a family, who are here to listen, support and pray. This will help to show people that in this season of uncertainty, fear and poverty, Jesus can be a beacon of hope to all.
Download the Stories of Hope insert
Michael Riley shares his personal journey with God
Encouraging news from St Michael’s
Thankfully we have bounced-back post-Covid, and several new young families have joined us. Despite holiday absences our Sunday service attendances averaged 119 adults + 9 children in August, and our children’s Sunday Club now has 6-12 members. Several join Rev Stan in leading the Peace and then help on the altar. Monthly children’s Craft Mornings include religious themes and parents often take part. Several bring friends along, and some have become regular worshippers.
Wednesday Coffee Club and the Monthly Luncheon Club each serve 20 to 40 customers – including several residents from the Barley Brook Nursing Home – and provide emotional and physical nourishment, in the setting of our lovely church.
Weddings, Baptisms and (sadly) funerals bring in a wide range of visitors. These, and our many social activities (book club, talks, concerts, shows, coach trips, etc) attract lots of ‘outsiders’ and provide opportunities to make them feel welcome and comfortable in our church, and to demonstrate practical Christianity in an informal and loving way.
This approach, and Rev Stan’s motivational skills, have prompted many visitors to join our worshipping community in more traditional church services, sometimes for the very first time. We find that newcomers often become proactive ambassadors for us and bring along their families and friends; and even volunteer to help run events. We look forward to expanding our worshipping community still further in the coming months.