Over five years ago, the growing relationship with the Methodist Church inspired Allan Cox to regularly visit the south west of England to see what God might do. Along with a call to “come and help us” there is a growing sense that God is on the move and an expectation of a harvest, both in and outside the church.
In 2013 an opportunity arose to partner with Flavel Church in Dartmouth, a Methodist/URC partnership. Karl and Deborah Stone, who had just completed IGNITE, felt God say “GO”. They arrived in October of that year, when the church had only 6 active members, all over 60 years old. They are now a community of more than 40 with 30 regularly attending Sunday gatherings and the age profile has changed. One lady, regarded as the youngest when they first arrived, now sees herself as one of the oldest! A church once regarded as dying is thriving once more.
Their emphasis has been on discipleship and building team. A variety of discipleship groups and missional activities run each week (craft days, tea rooms, coffee mornings, parent and toddler groups, youth work) and running an IGNITE course last year enabled and inspired other leaders to emerge. A young lady in her early 20’s came along to one discipleship group to find out why her mum had started going to church after becoming a Christian on Alpha. Her only spiritual reference was Harry Potter! but she stayed as “I feel I belong and am accepted” and within a few months became a Christian and was baptised.
This year they plan to launch “Flavour” as church in the context of a coffee lounge, open seven days a week with a 24/7 prayer room alongside. Flavel Church building is situated in the centre of town and regularly hosts events during the many town festivals. People wander in and out of the building when it is open and the dream is that visitors will experience church happening around them and a team will be on hand to connect and meet with them where they are.
Karl and Deborah have been an inspiration to Methodist and United Reformed Churches in the area and so the leaders of Teignmouth United Reformed Church approached Allan to see if others might be willing to come. After interviews with the church and senior leaders in the area, Charlie and Bev Stockley moved to Teignmouth to take on leadership in October 2016. Here there is a regular attendance of around 30 people, who are all over 70 years of age. Charlie and Bev have spent time ‘taking the pulse’ of the community and have found an active, warm and welcoming community with a willingness for change but don’t know how.
Around the same time, we heard of another church desperate for help. Lynton URC, in north Devon has been through tough times in the last four years and was considering closing. Roger and Jacquey Newton were exploring what God had for them whilst supporting Karl and Deborah and New Community Le Vay in Normandy France in a variety of practical ways. Last June, whilst in France, Jacquey heard God say “Lynton” on two separate occasions, so they decided to make some enquiries, discovered a need and found they ‘fitted’ the need perfectly.
Roger and Jacquey moved to temporary accommodation in Taunton in December 2016. They are in the process of capturing the dreams and aspirations of this community of 15 people who are still “amazed you wanted to come!”
Since the beginning of the year Allan has received a request from two more United Reformed Churches. If you are exploring what God has for you and are willing to “go” and serve the dreams and aspirations of others, then perhaps you should chat to or contact one of us or even come to see what God is doing for yourself.