St. Cuthbert’s & St. Aidan’s had sat across the road from the local sixth form college for over 20 years without having any contact with either the students or staff. Whilst at first MLG felt a bit like ‘just another thing to do’ in an already busy church, the church decided to embrace the challenge of piloting a new missional endeavour by finally crossing the road and seeing how they might be able to serve the college.
Although some MLG projects start with a really clear idea or sense of call, the church’s New College project started through conversation with the college community, the staff highlighting they wanted to engage with remembrance Sunday somehow but didn’t feel able to do so.
In the weeks that followed the congregation and clergy of St Cuthbert’s and St Aidan’s began to pray and plan. Together with the students they would host an act of remembrance outside the college (to coincide with Nov. 11th) and afterwards they would eatscones and the older members of the church would share their stories about their experience of war and conflict.
It was a profoundly positive experience, engaging scores of students and church folk and having a profound effect on both.
Like many MLG stories it didn’t end there. In the weeks that followed the College asked the church to host a something to mark Christmas. Again it would be a collaborative, involving discussions between church members, clergy and the college’s drama students, culminating in a service for 160 students and staff with carols, prayers, drama and singing ‘Careless Whisper’! From this point the church has engaged the students in helping to run Christmas and Easter ‘journey’ events, in running events for the elderly and collaborated with the Graphics/Tech department students to send specially crafted Crosses to a partner church in Burundi and so engage the college with the 3rd world.
The New College story is a great example of the chain reaction that can be unleashed when a congregation recognises the connections God is ready to establish and is willing to take an initial step of faith.