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Story 87 - Rose Uitterdijk - Community Minister, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire

By Suzie Abramian in conversation with Rose Uitterdijk
 

Story87Pic1Rose Uitterdijk is a Baptist Community Minister working in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Interestingly the town of over 80, 000 does not have a Baptist Church and is, as Rose describes, ‘very under-churched’. However, when she was ordained and appointed as community minister in the town in 2012, she recalls how she came with the hope to be a blessing to the other churches in the town, to work with them and to prioritise listening to the needs of the community. For Rose personally, she also came with a particular heart for those who would never enter a traditional form of church, allowing the question, ‘what would it take to be church for the people whom church is hard to access?’ to shape her ministry. Time spent with Urban Expression, now as one of their team leaders, has also had a great impact on Rose’s outlook of mission in the area, especially to those who are on the margins.
Over the last 9 years Rose reflects that many missional ventures have constantly been adapted, reflected upon and even stopped or started again. An attitude which has ‘permission to fail’ has, according to Rose, been important to achieve this. A large proportion of her time has been given over to building deep relationships, listening intently to the community and where God is leading. Despite the obvious limitations on socialising throughout 2020, Rose notes that many relationships have actually deepened as they have taken time for people especially through phone-calls and walks, often sitting at Rose’s ‘office’ - a local park bench - when allowed. Through the importance of relationships Rose notes that conversations with real spiritual depth have arisen naturally, instead of in a contrived or forced way.
In a previous article for Baptists Together, Rose shared about a monthly community meal that had begun
(see  https://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/518829/Ellesmere_Port_Community.aspx).
Story87Pic2
This venture had still been growing strong up until the arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic, out of which a more intentional discipleship group had started meeting. This group, Rose says, now consists of mainly mature Christians from other churches and it will be interesting to see how that group develops and grows.
In keeping with the pioneering characteristics of this ministry, which has been accustomed to change from the outset, Rose shares about one venture that began at the end of 2020, particularly in response to the various restriction on social gatherings. (Taken from NWBA’s Stories)
“As lockdown has deepened, we become much more aware of the need to be much more local. Our walks are from our doorstep and we have discovered lots of local areas and footpaths that we didn’t know existed. We have also become increasingly aware of our neighbours, and we wanted to find a way in which our cut de sac could become an even better place to live. So, with the owner of a local cafe who in the road, we provided a goodie bag of baked goods along with an invitation to join a WhatsApp group.
Our baker friend and my husband Dirk went door knocking, giving out the delicious cakes and talking about the WhatsApp group. It was so good to speak to people who we normally mostly pass on the street. One neighbour opened up that she had just lost her job. Another family were so pleased because they had just moved into our street.
Fifteen people have now signed up to WhatsApp and it has been one small, new way in which we can keep contact, give away things we don’t need any more, ask why the electricity has gone off in the area or wish each other a Happy Christmas.”

Rose, like so many, is looking forward to a time soon when we can once again gather physically with ease and has some specific hopes that more local, outdoor ventures will be possible such as forest church, something which they experimented with over the summer months of 2020. She encourages others who may be on a similar journey in ministry and mission to prioritise listening before acting, ‘listening to God and listening to yourself’ and stresses the importance of finding others who ‘get you’, highlighting the importance of team support and shared input
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Deb Stammers
NWBA, Story81-90, MA_Pioneering
Sally Mann
MA_Podcast, LBA, Story81-90
Rose Uitterdijk
NWBA, MA_Pioneering, Story81-90
Nicola Gerrard
NWBA, MA_Pioneering, Story81-90
Red Letter
MA_Pioneering, MA_Social Action, Story81-90, LBA
Paul Revill
nba, MA_Pioneering, Story81-90
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