For North Wearmouth based Clergy Jen Bradshaw and Chantal Noppen, MLG represented a new challenge for their local churches which had little experience of outreach into the community and greeted the prospect with a degree of nervousness.
Drawing on their learning from both MLG and PMC, Chantal and Jen gathered a small group from their congregations to consider what the unique unmet needs of their local community might be and to explore what gifts the church might have to meet those needs, culminating in the launch of ‘Winter Warmers’.
Running over the winter months, the church split into 4 teams of 4 volunteers to provide a warm meal and hospitality in the church hall every Tuesday from 5-7pm to care for the lonely and those struggling with food poverty or reliant on foodbanks, both of which the church identified as being significant local needs. Crucially though, Chantal & Jen stress that they are trying to do more than provide a ‘service’ – their aspiration is to build and extend community & friendship. Cooking, eating, talking and clearing away together are all part of that and by sharing life we begin to understand, care for and listen to one another.
For a congregation with little experience of community outreach this has been an important and very positive experience of using their existing gifts to build bridges with its neighbours and which the church hope to extend by offering prayer in the future and creating other opportunities for its new contacts to cross further into the life of the church.