Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Community Tales…

…stories of pilgrims on a journey

That was the title of our day conference down in Wiltshire yesterday. We had a great time, and I came back energised and encouraged, having listened to the team at The Stowe [the Baptist church on the Wichelstowe development, in Swindon] telling us the ways in which they have worked to bless their community.


Here are a few pictures of our day. A great welcome from Sally and Zane when we arrived.

The key words were

calling, listening, obeying, following

Ali Boulton was enthusiastic, and shared the story of hoe The Stowe church came into being. We laughed a lot – but also heard the difficulties, and problems encountered en route.


We spent some time listening to Ali and looking at presentations on screen.

“Church” is very different when you are working in a new estate, still being built, and the only shelter you have is a portakabin and a large gazebo – and baptisms are conducted outside in a large paddling pool.

But the team told us of the way relationships were built and people supported as they IMG_0818moved into the area

This is Liz, one of the original team members. She works incredibly hard – here she is bringing the stuff for lunch to our discussion table.

The loo roll? That’s tere to symbolise the ‘welcome baskets’ Ali delivered to each family as they moved into a home on the estate.

IMG_0816When you move in, it’s really useful if someone brings you basics [loo roll, teabags, contact details for essential shops and services, a map…]



We were served some delicious food[chilli and rice or jacket spuds, fruit, cakes, biscuits…] Ali’s husband Neil is clearly a splendid cook.

There were many helpful conversations, and useful ‘networking’ opportunities.

I think the person on the left of the photo [in the blue cardi] is Emily. She shared her story with me, of how Jesus has completely turned her life around since she moved into Wichelstowe – and now she’s a happily married Mum, very proud of her family, acknowledging that this is all by the grace of God and his power.

It was inspiring to be in the lovely new Community Centre, and hear all the inspirational stories, but nobody was telling us that this sort of ‘new development’ ministry was an easy road. We learned about the challenges, the opportunities, working with the other agencies involved [councils, housing associations]. Much for us to think about in terms of the new Lubbesthorpe Development being planned just miles from here. Thank you Ali, and your team, for such a lovely day.

As Liz led our closing act of worship, she said she had prepared some prayers and quotations on slips of paper – these were on the table by the door, and she invited us to take one home if the words resonated with us in any way. Because I do so much sewing, and I am constantly taking random pieces of material from the Great Stash to create other things, I chose this prayer…

Let me use disappointment as material for patience

Let me use success as material for thankfulness

Let me use trouble as material for perseverance

Let me use danger as material for courage

Let me use reproach as material for long-suffering

Let me use praise as material for humility

Let me use pleasure as material for temperance

Let me use pain as material for endurance


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