30 things to consider trying in your church
17 December 2016
In the summer my eye was caught by a blog on the National Churches Trust website entitled 50 things to do in a church. From a conversation with Michael Palin and a poll amongst church-goers a list was created and a photo album established at Flickr.com to record them all. And what a brilliant list it was.
Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust said: “‘50 Things to do in a Church’ makes it clear that churches, chapels and meeting houses are a tremendous asset to local people and communities throughout the UK.”
The Media Team over at the London Diocese of the Church of England created another blog with links to those activities which took place in their churches and coincided with the list. There were some I would have loved to go and see, but living 100 miles from the capital was a major obstacle.
It got me thinking. What about Congregational Churches? Surely we should have a similar list to celebrate the wonderful activities and outreach that our churches put on. Once I started thumbing through the Year Book my list jumped to 10, then 20, and by the time I hit 30 I thought I must write this down. There are probably at least as many again that I could have listed … but a line needs drawing somewhere! I apologise if I have missed your church off the list.
There’s no order to this list, either alphabetically or geographically, but I hope there’s something just around the corner from you. So I give to you, 30 things to consider trying in your church:
CoffeePot @ Southam, Warks
Every Tuesday – market day in Southam – the Congregational Church opens its doors from 10am-12noon to offer FREE tea and coffee to shoppers, visitors and local residents. Staffed by church members and friends it’s a wonderful opportunity to take the weight off your feet and have a good chat in peaceful and relaxing surroundings.
Film Club @ Clarendon Park, Leicester
Two years ago Clarendon Park launched their Film Club with a showing of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Since then they have gone from strength to strength with between 40-50 people coming each month to watch films ranging from Mama Mia to Miracle on 34th Street. Never intended as a money making exercise, its success is down to word-of-mouth recommendation and the friendly, welcoming atmosphere that exists.
Noise Festival @ Thundersley
The Noise Arts Festival takes place every October, organised by Thundersley Congregational Church in Benfleet, Essex and mixes a blend of comedy, music, art and drama with faith. It takes place in various locations close to the Church and has a range of free events and some paid for sessions. There’s an arts trail, messy play sessions, a photography competition, art and craft activities for families to enjoy together and lots more.
Just Sing! @ Newark
Just Sing! is a community choir that was established at the end of 2014 as part of the LEAF Resource Church programme and it meets every second Saturday morning from 10.00 – 12.30. They sing a wide range of music, from folk to classical, secular and Christian and hold concerts and aim to raise money for charity. The choir is open to anyone to attend. There are no auditions – the only entry requirement is that you enjoy Just Singing!
Stay and Play @ Hay Mills, Birmingham
Little Sheep Stay and Play takes place every Wednesday between 9.15-11.15am. There are lots of different activities to take part in, everyone is made to feel most welcome and there is a real sense of friendliness and ease.
Piece of Mind Café @ The Studio, Manchester
The Studio is a 21st century Christian Church whose ethos is very simple and is motivated by the belief that everyone is a work of art created by God. They have many different activities that reach out to the local community. The Piece of Mind Café is a meeting place for people living with dementia, their carers, family and friends. They meet at The Studio on the second Thursday of each month from 1.30pm to 3.00pm.
Pilots @ Long Itchington, Warks
Pilots is a non-uniformed club for boys and girls aged 4+, which takes place each Wednesday in term time from 6.15pm to 7.30pm at Long Itchington Chapel. Activities include games, craft, art, cooking, drama, usually with a Christian theme, and lots more including occasional outings. Pilots is involved in village events such as the Village Carnival, the Guy Fawkes Competition and they also planted a tree along with other village organisations.
Hy-Speed @ Highbury, Cheltenham
Hy-Speed is a Scalextric digital slot-car racing club with various meetings being held throughout the year. Family meetings are often held on the Second Saturday of the month. The first session (6.30pm to 8pm) is for children age 7+ and their dads or other male adult. The second session (8.30pm to 10pm) is for adults and children age 11+ are welcome if accompanied by their parent or other adult. There are also occasional men only events, special whole family events on Saturday mornings with a cafe, a trip to the UK Slot Car Festival and an awards service with racing held in June.
Knitters @ Musselburgh
Do you ever see something and think ‘I wish I could knit that’? At Knitting-For-All help is given to enable people to complete projects of every type and complexity. From beginners to experts, from the youngest to the eldest, all are welcomed on every other Thursday evenings in a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere.
Pottery for all @ Blaenavon
Bethlehem Community Church runs various projects alongside their worship services. One of which is a very popular Pottery and Crafts Club. They have seasonal activities, like a Christmas Course to make decorations and gifts, as well as general sessions and children’s activities.
Table Tennis & Chat @ Tapton, Sheffield
Tapton Congregational Church in Sheffield run many community groups at their Church. Rascals Breakfast and After-School Club, Soup N Roll Lunch Group and Bible Studies on alternate Wednesday evenings. On the other alternate Wednesday evening they hold Table Tennis & Chat - Table Tennis ability is not required as it is purely a fun evening, with some members just attending for a chat and cup of tea!
Walkie Talkies @ Stalbridge
Walkie Talkies meet each Thursday from 10.30 - 11.30am and is a great way to spend time with little ones having fun and joining in with the stories, songs and nursery rhymes. There is also a craft activity on some of the mornings. There is time afterwards for a cuppa and chat, while the children enjoy a healthy snack.
Wurlitzer @ Beer
In 1957, a prestigious Wurlitzer organ was installed at Beer Congregational Church and since then it has held an important part in Church life. Regular concerts, recitals and talks are given, and the organ is used at each Sunday Service. Regular concerts raise a great deal of money for local, national and international causes, and are well supported by the local community and visitors alike.
Hub @ Ide
The Hub at Ide is a hub of activities! Coffee, Chat and Challenge, Film Club, Vinyl Club, Holiday Club for Children, and lots more beside. And this all takes place in a small rural community that really appreciates how the local church is making connections to its neighbours.
Museum @ Bunyan, Bedford
The collection now held in the Museum was brought together and put on display for the first time in 1946. It was housed in a room which had been used and made secure by the BBC during World War Two. In 1988 the members of Bunyan Meeting Church embarked upon a project to refurbish some of the meeting rooms and to construct a purpose built museum to house the large collection of artefacts and books relating to John Bunyan. After ten years of fundraising the new museum was officially opened in 1998. This modern museum depicts John Bunyan’s life and times, including his imprisonment in Bedford. Visitors can wander through the displays and experience life as it was in the 17th century.
Amazing Space @ Union Chapel, London
Noel Gallagher, Status Quo, Newton Faulkner, Noel Fielding, Bridget Christie, Reginald D Hunter, Simon Amstell, and Stewart Lee are just some of the names to have graced the stage at Union Chapel. From pop to comedy, opera to orchestral Union Chapel truly is an amazing space.
Peace & Coffee @ Grimsby
Peace & Coffee is just one of many activities currently running at Park Congregational Church in Grimsby. For those finding life stressful, or those who just want a bit of peace … and coffee … this is an ideal opportunity. It’s all very simple. Relaxed. A space to be refreshed. To have a drink in a peaceful place. No charge. No hassle. Wonderful.
Second Chance Shop @ Ladypool Road
Second Chance is a Charity Shop on the Ladypool Road in Birmingham, a Christian Ministry meeting the needs of the local community. If you enjoy digging through Charity shops to find those rare collectors’ items or pieces of vintage clothing or just a good bargain, Second Chance might be the one that you’re looking for. They have a great team of volunteers and workers who offer advice, support, and prayer to all who require it
BUILD @ Scarborough
BUILD! Construction Club is open to Deaf children, young people, adults and their families. The aim of the club is to provide the Family (Deaf participants children & adults) with the opportunity in a relaxed environment to use their imaginations and creative side to produce models using a selection of materials. During the sessions, the families are encouraged to work together to help and support each other and at the end of each session they share with the others what they have been working on or have made. Simply brilliant!
Café Church @ North Nibley, Glos
For a church that closed due to a lack of members a few years ago the work done by the leadership of North Nibley Chapel is just amazing. It is now a busy community hub that offers Messy Church, Table Tennis, Arts and Crafts, Community Singing, a recorder club, a youth club, a drama group and coffee, cake and chat! And amongst their Sunday services they hold occasional Café Church Services too.
Make, Brew, n’Chew @ Orset
Another Church that run a whole host of activities for church members and the local community alike is at Orsett. They have knit and natter sessions, a Care and Prayer time, a Café and the intriguingly titled Make, Brew, N’Chew.
Art for All @ Hawick
Art for all offers an opportunity for anyone at any skill level the chance to meet up and create their own painting. The project is held weekly on Thursday mornings in the main hall and a local artist is on hand who is more than happy to help and guide people in creating that longed-for masterpiece. Members of the group have discovered their talents and have won prizes in local shows, as well as making their own calendar and holding an annual exhibition in the church.
Bowls @ Haverfordwest
Not every church is able to offer sporting opportunities, but Tabernacle, Haverfordwest is. Short mat bowls is open to all every Thursday evening. The matches are never rained off, and it’s not cold in winter, as all these games take place in the cosy church hall. And if you’re feeling energetic the church also runs over-fifties aerobics!
JAM Club @ Sanquhar
The J.A.M. Club (Jesus and Me) meet at the same time as the morning service in the main sanctuary every Sunday. The children stay in for the first part of the service before they go to another part of the building with the leaders for their own time of fun and teaching. Leaders encourage the children to take part in the various activities, and from time to time there are special events for the children like Holiday Club’s.
Praise & Prayer @ Shotts
A monthly service of Praise & Prayer is held on Wednesday evenings at Shotts. This is to complement weekly Sunday Services and times of quiet reflection on Wednesday lunchtimes when people can sit peacefully or have a chat with the church minister.
Toddlers @ Eyemouth
Every Monday the Church at Eyemouth host a Toddlers group that is greatly appreciated by the local community. The church offers a very warm and inclusive welcome, and just recently was awarded a BiBS Certificate … an award from the NHS Borders Area Trust in recognition that they Promote, Protect and Celebrate Breastfeeding.
Uniform Bank @ Bellshill
We think innovative ideas are often the best ones, and ones that people appreciate most. Bellshill run one, that’s for sure. They are in an area of social need and they set up a School Uniform Bank in the summer. The need was identified by a local Parent Teacher Association and the church worked with local schools and businesses, and through the generosity of the local community over 80 children were helped. The church simply said: “Once again thank you all so much, we are so blessed to be living and working in such a caring community.”
Wired-in @ Gilfillan Church, Dundee
Wired-in is a club run by Gilfillan Church that allows users to access computers and the internet, to look for work online and help build good CV’s. Volunteers are on hand to provide assistance and expertise, and soup and bread, tea and coffee are provided. Open every Friday 11am-1pm.
Miners @ Llanhilleth
Churches often try to reflect the heritage of their community, and one church that does this is our Church in Llanhilleth. Simply go along to see their magnificent stain glass windows reflecting the proud mining tradition of the local area.
The Laundrette @ Penrhys
Dirty laundry. Everyone has it. Even the church. So it’s refreshing to find an economical and helpful service offered by one of our churches – a laundrette! Open every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 9.00am – 1.00pm, this is one of a number of great projects offered by the Llanfair Uniting Church