Devonport Community Baptist Church
A small church with no building has learned the value of partnership with others in the community
Partnership with Baptists through Home Mission has been key to its success
Being a small church, with no building, we have learnt the value of partnership. Even our Sunday services are done in partnership with a local community centre.
But it also means we have to think creatively about everything we do in the community, because our first question is always where and with who?
Devonport is in the 1% most deprived communities in the country. Residents in Devonport have a life expectancy seven years younger than much of the rest of Plymouth. With 50% childhood obesity we have the highest rate in Devon, children arrive at Prime School on average 18-24months below expected national levels. (Click here for full details
There are 7000 people in Devonport, but in the area we live in there are just two churches, with ours at 25 people being by far the largest of the two!
As a church, the values we try to emphasise are Generosity, Hospitality and Joy
, in all we do.
Little Fish is our toddler group - it is run, in partnership with the local community café. We had no access to the building we used on a Sunday (we have subsequently moved) and to run a Toddler Group would have been impossible for us, so we entered into a partnership with a local café
. They provide the space, and we provide the team! We have also gained enough funding to pay a families worker on a contract basis, she is from a local Anglican church and was looking for ministry experience, so it works well for us and the other local church!
When we came out of Lockdown we opened, but with restricted numbers, but we have been consistently full! We have a real mix of parents, most of whom are local to the area but we also have a few parents from Naval families and some with educational needs.
We are the only Toddler Group in the area, while Toddler Groups work well in Middle Class areas, working class areas really struggle, as there is great suspicion of people’s motives or the need. But thanks to our brilliant Families worker, Claire, we are seeing more and more local families join in.
While in the local Co-op two young lads came in, they were looking for a cauliflower. They had been sent by their mum. Neither knew what a cauliflower looked like “is this one?” said one boy holding up a broccoli.
Last year during Lockdown we open up the garden of a house we use for church events. It had been run by a local homeless hostel, but they had let it go. So, we took it back over. Our aim was to grow fresh vegetables and give them away, While I have some experience in allotments, we were joined in our endeavours by a friend of the church who had a passion for it. Within a few months we had cleared the plot, rebuilt the raised beds, held a big bonfire event, cleared a cat poo ridden compost and harvested our first vegetables, and then given them all away!
More recently we have expanded the team and have been joined by an Asylum Seeker who needed a project to clear his mind, and he has now become part of our church community!
And in terms of partnership, we have entered into a strategic partnership with Hazelnut Farm in Bristol
and have committed to give away 50% of everything we grow, to the local community!
A few years ago we took part in Feast of Fun, a holiday food project here in Plymouth run by Transforming Plymouth Together (TPT)
. During the Lockdowns, we took part in regular food drops, in partnership with other local churches, feeding 40 families each time including 100 primary school children.
But we wanted to do something longer term. Something very strategic and sustainable, but also something that offered dignity. Inspired by Community Fridges, community Grocers and pantries, we bought a Fridge and in March 2022, we have, in partnership with TPT and the other local churches started the Devonport Food Club, giving local people access to affordable food.
We have lots of other plans, working with other local churches we are looking to create an ecumenical Messy Church, which will mean utilising the strengths of each of the churches we are working with.
We are also looking for more funding to get a second Little Fish day, because of the demand.
We have a few other ideas in the Pipeline, but with each one the first question will be - who do we partner with?
So how does Home Mission help? Our primary partnership is with fellow Baptists! Whether that is our local Association (SWBA) or the wider Baptist family, we could not do any of the things we do in our community without a Home Mission grant, this for us is far more than money, it is being part of something far bigger than ourselves.
Of all our key Partners our partnership with the Baptist Family is by far the most significant!
Minister of Devonport Community Baptist Church
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.