Story 53 - Renew Stocky
Trinity Baptist Church, Derby
Over the last two years Trinity Baptist Church, Derby situated in the business and commercial area of the city, have been connecting to their local community in new ways, encouraging the church in their own faith as well. A large part of this has come about by setting up ‘Renew Stocky,’ a Renew Wellbeing Cafe at the local community rooms in the Stockbrook area of the city, a residential area about 5 minutes walk from the church with a high level of deprivation.
Written by Suzie Abramian in conversation with Rev. Ellen Price - 09/11/2020
After spending time in prayer, training with Ruth Rice for establishing a Renew Café, and a grant from the EMBA, Renew Stocky was launched in September 2019. The cafe is open weekly one afternoon through until early evening to welcome those working during the daytime. They have adopted the Renew model creating a space for local people that includes a craft area, a quiet reading or colouring area, space for games and a jigsaw puzzle and a prayer space where there are said prayers three times a day. Their publicity material simply says, ‘it’s ok not to be ok’ and they have had many local lonely and vulnerable people come to share coffee, tea and cakes brought along by guests and hosts.
Rev.Ellen Price of Trinity Church notes how the Renew cafe has encouraged a level of trust in the community, even on a civic level, receiving a Respect Award from the local council for their care of vulnerable adults and by regularly welcoming a local area coordinator employed by the council to their sessions, who in turn will often invite people they know who would benefit from attending the cafe.
The Coronavirus has undoubtedly had an impact on the physical meeting of this group but encouragingly there have been many positives as a result. Moving the cafe to gather in a local park enabled the continuation of the group throughout the summer months, and created new opportunities for prayer within the group. Previously happening in a separate space at the cafe, in the park praying had to happen all together in a much more public way. They make this time of prayer accessible to everyone by simply saying ‘wow’ for anything they could see around them in the park, they then say thanks before moving on to any concerns for prayer. One guest who was introduced to prayer like this was moved to say to Ellen that it was so good to say wow in prayer and asked ‘can they come to church to do some more “wow-ing?”’ They have been connecting with the main church ever since.
Ellen’s advice and encouragement to other churches who may be considering a similar venture is ‘to keep it simple and pray,’ which in turn has led to joy for the established church congregation who have attended the cafe themselves. She also notes how the church was in a place where they wanted to reach out into their community but had a mixture of challenges, some connected with mental health issues within the congregation themselves. Ellen stresses that they have also been learning as a church that , ‘we don’t do the fixing…. all we’re doing is being community together and seeing what Christ is doing amongst us.’
Looking ahead, Trinity BC is also exploring other new ways of engaging with their local community, some by connecting with local businesses in the immediate area around the church. By joining in local business events, serving food at street cleaning events and regularly making and distributing cakes - something Ellen says they as a church have a particular gift for doing! - new relationships are being encouraged and grown. There is also the beginnings of a new adventure with the clearing of an unused garden space behind their church with a vision to create a community garden. Although some plans are on hold due to the pandemic, the space has already been appreciated throughout 2020 as a permissible gathering place for the church, with some in the church already requesting that they keep meeting in the garden in the summer months even after the Coronavirus has passed!
We look forward to hearing more about Trinity Baptist Church in the future and wish them every blessing as they venture further with Christ.