St. Luke’s church in Kentish town lay unused, a dumping ground for Kentish community rubbish for over 20 years. The church building held everything from stoves, to microwaves and minibus seats. The one thing it did not hold: a Sunday church meeting. This Anglican Church was reborn in December 2011. Jon and Sus March, the 30-something vicar and his wife and their three young children, led a small group of founding settlers to reclaim the church building. The church’s mission and vision statement is: ‘to transform communities’ and they do so by engaging people at their point of need. How do they do this?
St. Luke’s is not a ‘top down’ church in structure and practice. Home groups are called ‘Hubs’ and are encouraged to identify people’s needs, face outward to the community, and plan to transform hurts to healings. There are currently eleven of these groups ranging from an Alpha Hub, to a Creative Arts Hub, two Mothers’ or ‘Crumbs’ Hubs, Compassion Hub and a Metal Hub (more on that one later). What needs are being met? The Compassion Hub holds a Tea Party every six weeks for the isolated, elderly and the vulnerable of Kentish Town. Average attendance is over 20. The local council recognizes St. Luke’s as a befriending community and refers local people in need of friends. The Compassion Hub then opens the church doors to those who are alone and hurting. Recently, one participant said, ‘A year ago the only person I would ever see was my carer once a day. Now I have people from the church visiting me and being interested in me . . . it makes me want to live a bit longer, which I didn’t before.’
At the other end of the spectrum is the Metal Hub. This Hub serves as a bridge in the gap between the church and the Camden metal community. A month ago a Metal music night with Christian metal bands was held at the church. A young attendee on the night said, ‘No one thinks you can be a Christian and into metal music.’ By a wonderful twist, a number of local, older neighbours attended the night. Jon, the Vicar, reached out to an elderly neighbour before the event so she would be prepared for the music. She said, ‘I don’t care how loud the music is. I might even sit in my garden and listen. What your church has done is amazing.’ A Hub leader said, ‘We are showing people that Jesus came for you.’
That is what these two seemingly different Hubs have in common: they build community by serving communities. And they do so by identifying people’s needs and meeting them with Jesus.
How is your church reaching the local community? Let us know in the comments below.
Whether you’re excited about the forthcoming London 2012 Olympics or not (and I speak as someone so un-athletic that the mere sight of a running track induces queasiness), there’s no doubt that the Games will be the most talked-about event of the summer.
Up to 800,000 people are expected to travel through London on the busiest day of the Games and with 20 official Olympic sites across the UK, London is just the beginning. The Olympic torch will pass through the hands of 8,000 people in a thousand communities, covering nearly all of the UK.* Why does this matter? Well, aside from having major traffic implications, it also presents the UK church with a glaring opportunity.
The Olympics give us all an opportunity to show generosity and hospitality, kindness and community. Traditionally these qualities are already found in church environments; but the Olympics is a golden ticket to take church to the streets. More Than Gold is the initiative founded to mobilise the church throughout the Olympics; to enable them to reach out to the community in areas of Outreach, Service and Hospitality, and show them something of Jesus’ love.
If you’re into the creative arts, you can volunteer your drama, vocal or art skills to a local church outreach event. Use your football and rugby skills to set up a sports holiday club for kids. If hospitality is your gifting, you could consider hosting an Athlete’s family, saving them the astronomical cost of accommodation throughout the Games period. There’s also the opportunity to become a Games Pastor: essentially assisting visitors with practical advice and support at several key transport terminals and Games venues.
If you can hand out free cups of water or point someone in the direction of the nearest toilet, you can represent Jesus in your community this summer. And that's great news for those of us who can't tell our athletics from our elbow.
Visit the More Than Gold website for resources and application forms.
How are you planning on reaching out in your community during the Games this year? Do you think initiatives like More Than Gold will make a lasting difference in your town? Let us know in the comments.
*Figures and image courtesy of More Than Gold.
blogs by the Stewardship team and selected guest writers.