A new way of being Church? Jill Spracklen recalls the beginning of our Cafe Church

In my filing cabinet is a folder marked ‘New Initiatives’. It is now well filled and can no longer qualify for that labelling as it did in November 2010 when we shared in our first Cafe Church, one of three new initiatives started at the time (the others were Messy Church and Family Film Night), giving opportunity to experience another way of being ‘church’. 

Starting anything from scratch is always a challenge with no blueprint for how it should be done, however, a small team came up with a simple format of tea and cakes in the Coffee Lounge with a chance to deepen friendships and make new friends, followed by focusing on something which would challenge, educate or deepen our spirituality. This has sometimes involved an outside speaker and others have been ‘home-grown’ afternoons led by members of our church family. From the beginning we felt it important to include a time of prayer and a hymn or Christian song.

The programme has always been as varied as possible, you may be interested in a few examples: ‘The Birth of Christ’, an advent theme, with our very own artist Margarete Tucknott working, as we watched, on her pastel interpretation of the Madonna and Child; Rabbi Amswych from the Reform Synagogue in Bournemouth enlightened us on Judaism and encouraged us to sing in Hebrew (with a little help from him!); we’ve been fascinated to have one or two talks from people willing to share how their faith has impacted on their professional life; and Dame Annette Brooke, for many years Liberal-Democrat Member of Parliament for this constituency, attracted so many we had difficulty in fitting people in! Discussions on topical challenges such as ‘Tolerance’ have also been thought provoking and well received. The list could go on. Each July, we join with our younger families for a more social event. This year, after a great BBQ, we produced some street art which we hope cheers the people of Broadstone as they pass the church.

In the new year, we are looking forward very much to Sunday 13 January, when we shall welcome The Three Revs – Rev Helen Bailey from St John’s Church, Rev Andy Hall from the United Reformed Church and Rev Sue Gowling from Broadstone Methodist Church – who are to form a panel for Any Questions? This is a great opportunity to hear the opinions of the clergy from three of our Broadstone churches, and working ecumenically is so helpful to spiritual growth in our community. In advance, we thank them sincerely for giving us their time. (Questions in writing, please, to Rev Sue or to me by 6 January at the latest.) 

Following that, on 10 March we hope to learn more about The Tolpuddle Martyrs from one of our members, Martin Holst. 

We would love to welcome any of you reading this to join with us bi-monthly at 4.30pm (usually the second Sunday in the month, although this has to be varied occasionally). The Coffee Lounge is usually filled with people, with often the need to provide extra tables and seating, and the chatter over tea demonstrates the pleasure the afternoons afford. If you come as a stranger we hope you will leave as a friend! 

Finally, we must be mindful that new beginnings are not new for very long, we live in a fast-moving period in history, and though the message brought to us by Jesus has remained the same over the centuries,  the Church recognises it must be open to new ideas and challenges as we share the good news of knowing Him and His great love for us. Again, any suggestions to Rev Sue or to me and they will be put to the Cafe Church team.

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