Pill Baptist Church
Pill Baptist Church in North Somerset is in a process of transition
A Home Mission Grant is enabling Jon Thurlow to work with the church one day a week as ‘Discipleship and Mission Team Lead’, as three different ‘expressions’ of church take root there.
Jon Thurlow shared that Pill is a village of 3000 people and there had been a Baptist Church there for 200 years. By 2015 they were few in number (11 active members) and were struggling to see a way forward. Jon was approached to be part of the steering group set up by WEBA to help them reflect on what it might look like to be a church for the future, and how they might engage in the mission of God in Pill and the local area. Jon was made ‘Discipleship and Mission Team Lead’ and is paid one day a week, through a home mission grant, to help them discern God’s heart for their community.
This was an answer to prayer for Jon as he was also exploring a call to Baptist Ministry but through a bi-vocational model. Alongside working one day a week with Pill Baptist Church and helping them in this process of transition, Jon works as an NHS Physiotherapist, and is studying for a Certificate in Theology, Mission and Ministry at Trinity College, Bristol.
During this process of transition Pill Baptist Church have moved location from their Chapel building to help them better engage with the local community. They now meet in a local community centre, a day centre in a retirement community and in a home group setting. They are also developing different expressions of church. This includes a monthly, all-age Café Church which gathers 30-40 people once a month, a more traditional Sunday morning service of about 10-15 people, in a day centre on a retirement community, as well as a mid-week service and social time for ladies.
Developing ways of supporting discipleship has been a key focus over the past 2 years. This has been achieved through a regular Lyfe Group that meets in a home setting, and a monthly ‘Gathering’ at a Costa Coffee shop, set up in partnership with a local Baptist Pioneer in nearby Portishead. Together the church are continuing to reflect on the question, ‘How do we connect with this community?’.
At Easter, they ran a Community Engagement Easter Egg hunt and didn’t expect a significant response. In fact, over a hundred people engaged in the Easter activities, many of whom had no direct connection with a church community.
Pill Baptist Church is on a journey together and are not sure where it will lead. They are now considering selling their building to support the mission work and are looking forward to where God is leading them as they look to the future.
Photos: Jon Thurlow
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