A community picnic

The Residents association had their first event this weekend, a Big Picnic together with games adults and children, a face painter and a pinata donkey for the kids. It was very successful with over a hundred people coming out and enjoying the afternoon. This was a really valuable time of getting to know some more faces on the estate and listening to people’s stories. Although I had met some people on the residents committee, I hadn’t met their partners or children. It was good to get my face known a bit too and to introduce myself as the Community Minister. My sife had the bright idea of baking a large number of chocolate chip cookies and going round sharing them with people, thus making introductions easier. It worked (and there are still lots of cookies left).

Two conversations stick out which I had with two couples. One couple is a former church going couple with Catholic and URC backgrounds. After a break to have kids and because life got busy, they were interested in picking up their faith again. The wife of the couple trained to be a nurse at the hospital (now derelict) at the centre of the estate, and she now works in a residential house for severely disabled children, also on the edge of the estate. It would be interesting to integrate them into the community too.

The second couple – I don’t think they were churchgoers before – but they both said they had been thinking about going to church. Again they were of a similar age to us with similar age children.

What could church look like here, with them? A couple of thoughts struck me from those two conversations. One was simply to get a group together who want to discuss life and faith, as both couples had indicated an interest in returning to faith – perhaps by starting with an Alpha or discipleship course. The disadvantage however, is that they have children so any evening group would mean one half of the couple would have to stay at home. Another idea is for a very child friendly group which could include the whole family. If the working parents are to come, it would have to be at the weekend. The challenge here is to make the sessions interesting and fun for the kids as well as challenging and stimulating for the parents. It wouldn’t do to serve up ‘Christianity-lite’ just for the kids if the parents are not also being encouraged in their faith.

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