'A massive gift' to Ellesmere Port
Three years ago Rose Uitterdijk was ordained and inducted into ministry in Ellesmere Port - all perfectly normal except there is no Baptist church there
Supported by Home Mission, there had been a Baptist Minister in the town for a few years and when he left I took over the role of Community Minister.
Ellesmere Port is a town of about 60,000 people close to Liverpool and Chester. It has in the past relied heavily on the manufacturing industry, being the home to companies such as Vauxhalls and Shell.
It has large areas of deprivation and is often a town struggling with its identity, so much so that pupils from the local high school have asked why should they work hard, they only come from ‘the Port’. There is a sad lack of hope and aspiration.
Having said that, I love it here and know that it is an immense privilege to minister in this place. It is the town I grew up in and when I became a Christian as a teenager I began attending a Baptist Church in nearby Chester because there were so few churches in Ellesmere Port and certainly none that had teenagers.
Sadly during the intervening years, that has not changed much at all.
When I came here, I wanted to join in with what was already going on rather than ride into town and immediately plant a Church, and possibly undermine what was already happening.
A small, fragile community is beginning to appear
Therefore I have spent the last three years working in partnership with other Churches and agencies doing things such as Chaplaincy in a residential development for over 55s, School Pastoring, facilitating the ‘Christians Together’ group (bit like Churches Together), Foodbank, being Associate Minister at a local Methodist Church, Cafe Church, bring and share community meals, hanging out in Wetherspoons or local cafe’s, as well as a host of other outreach opportunities.
We have recently embarked on a project to offer mentoring to ex-offenders on release from prison.
After three years of ministry in the town and sowing seeds we are beginning to see what is developing. A small, fragile community is beginning to appear and we are now in the process of reflecting on whether to give that community a name. I think that may be an important step for those with whom we have developed relationships. We need to give them something visible to belong to.
I love what I do. Much of it looks like ministry in a church; leading groups, planning, preaching and the dreaded admin, but much of it looks very different; we have no building so we can be flexible, I love working with other churches and blessing and supporting their efforts.
The motto of Ellesmere Port is “Let Us Go Forward Together’ and for me that has been an important Kingdom value to keep reminding myself of.
I am really grateful for a number of things that are valuable in enabling the work in the town.
One is the vision of North Western Baptist Association and the hands on support that they give. They are always on the end of an email.
The Home Mission Funding is vital; without it there would be no Baptist expression and it is a massive gift to a place like this which does not have the finances needed to resource ministry.
I am grateful too, for the support of Urban Expression; we are a UE team and we love being part of that family whom we meet with from time to time. We are not part of an established church yet feel valued and connected to NWBA, to Urban Expression and to the wider Baptist family.
Click here to read more stories about how the money you give to Home Mission is being used to bring the love of God to communities around the country.