'We’d like to develop a walking group'
A number of small missional adventure grants were awarded to Baptists earlier this year. Dan Holland of Portrack Baptist Church in Stockton-on-Tees explains his church's application
We applied for this funding because we'd like to develop a walking group. Over the last 18 months or so we’ve been establishing a missional community on our estate, developing patterns of praying, eating, and sharing life together. During the pandemic, something that has particularly helped us to connect with others on the estate has been walking. A couple on our estate lost a baby in the midst of the pandemic and at the time we couldn't even meet them in their home. Instead, we started walking with them and found this a really effective way to build a depth of relationship with them and others. Something about walking alongside each other facilitates easy conversation.
Walking offers a shared experience and a safe space to share openly in a non-pressured way. It has also become an important part of looking after our own mental health during this time, and something that we can encourage as a means of self-care.
At times during the pandemic, walking was all we could do. As a missional community, we’ve grown into loving to walk together as families. Recently a few of us participated in a sponsored walk with neighbours from the estate and stopped for fish and chips together halfway through. Gathering to walk, sharing a meal and spending time together feels like a pattern that works well and something we would like to lean into as a missional opportunity within our community.
As we walk and eat, we’d love to be able to subsidise meals for our neighbours. Portrack estate is in the top one per cent of the most deprived wards in the country and costs can prove a barrier. At times when we have offered to buy meals, coffees etc. for people with our own money, we have sensed discomfort from certain neighbours. Being able to say that we’ve received funding because walking is good for our community, good for our mental health and good for our relationships feels like it would take away some of the imbalance and enable our neighbours to participate without worrying about money.
The money will also enable us to buy supplies to incorporate things like Muddy Church, which offers great guided questions and reflections, into our walking rhythms. This will help us to incorporate an additional element of spirituality into our walking and eating.
We are very grateful to have been awarded this grant. It will enable us to further develop our walking into something more could be part of and create a spiritual space for local people in an unchurchy way.
As the weather brightens, we look forward to seeing what happens next.
Image | Unsplash
Dan Holland is the Youth and Community Worker at Portrack Baptist Church