Baptist churches in Britain are using mission-project grants to connect with people who don’t attend church and to serve their communities, according to a report about the latest round of grants provided by the Baptist Union of Great Britain.
Churches used the grants to set up new cafes, youth clubs and toddler groups and to fund major anniversary projects. The grants, intended to encourage and enable British Baptist churches to respond to the mission needs of their communities as part of their ongoing work and ministry, are awarded four times a year.
Rev. Kathryn Morgan, mission adviser at the Baptist Union mission department, assessed the latest batch.
“At the recent grants meeting, the 19 reports from churches that had previously made use of a mission project grant plus the applications for 11 new grants made exciting reading,” Morgan told The Baptist Times.
“They told stories of churches providing equipment on their church premises in order to start up toddler groups, youth groups and luncheon clubs for seniors as well as cafes in ‘third spaces’ and community events where Christians will engage with the public.
“All these churches are imaginatively creating crossing places where they can both provide a valuable service to the community and offer a pathway for exploring the Christian faith.”
Recent beneficiaries include Blenheim Baptist Church in Leeds, which applied for funds to help set up a “quality cafe” in the church, which is situated in one of the Leeds Metropolitan University complexes.
Most of the food areas in the campus are busy, and the church wants to offer a “haven of peace” for students, staff and passers-by in the bustling area, Rev. David Humphries said.
The church served breakfast to 180 students during Fresher’s Week, and the plan is part of its wider philosophy to offer “hospitality and an attractive Christian community.”
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Also opening a cafe is Brixham Baptist Church in Devon. Its mission project grant refurbished the shop unit attached to the church for use as a community cafe and youth drop-in.
The church has taken over the shop, which is in a prime location in the town, after the business previously renting it folded. “The shop really is a prime site, and the potential benefits to the church in terms of outreach are huge,” Chris Wooding, administrator for the South West Baptist Association, said.
In Cambridgeshire, the developments at Lode Chapel continue. Under the banner of RE:NEW, Lode began hosting a kids’ club and cafe service in the primary school in Bottisham, the largest of the five villages Lode services.
The church has steadily built contacts, and with its isolated chapel viewed as an obstacle to growth, has now voted to conduct all its Sunday morning services in the school, all in the 200th anniversary of the opening of the chapel.
The grant application was for both music equipment and rent for the school.
“We hope that by moving from the chapel we’ll be able to encourage the families we’ve built contacts with to return to the school on other Sundays to discover more about the faith they’ve been introduced to at Kids Club,” Rev. Simon Goddard said.
Another application will help fund a new venture by Elliot Crippen, who has set up a monthly informal event at Bourton-on-the Water Baptist Church. Crippen, son of Rev. Richard Crippen, asked the church leadership if he could use the opportunity of his 14th birthday party to springboard a new, “low cringe” meeting at the church.
Word of mouth has enabled the meeting – called ‘Elliot’s thing!’ – to grow. Now the church needs appropriate resources to widen its appeal to 13- to 19-year-olds.
The Southern Counties Baptist Association has described it as a “remarkable initiative … aimed at engaging Elliot’s peer group in an imaginative and creative way.”
This article appeared originally in The Baptist Times of Great Britain.