Fruits of the spirit
How a village church turned scarcity into abundance. Charissa King reports
It didn’t have a minister. It’s the second smallest church in a country village of five. Yet, two years ago, it won a £2,500 prize for outstanding community engagement. Broadway United Reformed Church, Worcestershire, is set alongside breathtaking views of the vale of Evesham, next to an incline where the Malvern Hills can be seen on the bright, spring day of my visit. Soft fruit and asparagus are grown in this region but today I’m most interested in its spiritual produce. After the church received a runner up grant as part of the URC’s 2016 Community Project Awards – a scheme sponsored by Congregational Insurance – I’ve come to see whether Broadway URC’s outreach work still bears fruit today.
‘Feel better, enjoy life more’, is a programme aimed at combatting loneliness. What began as an afternoon of table games in 2014 – following the dissolution of a local social club for older people – proved so popular that the church also started hosting exercise classes, a support group for people experiencing memory loss, craft sessions and computer workshops for older people – ‘Neighbours online’.
Most of the award money was used to buy computer and printing equipment for ‘Neighbours online’, so that’s where I visit first. Here, one service user is learning how to research, Googling local dog rescue centres. Another learns how to better use her iPad, while Paul, who has a neurological condition, is helping someone learn advanced functions of Microsoft Word. One of the church’s youngest volunteers, 25-year-old Jess, says: ‘You’ll often find that they can do emails and Skype, but they’ll say: “I don’t know how to do anything!” They need to know that what they’re doing is right and that if they touch the buttons it’s not going to explode. It’s a matter of slow guidance.’…
Donations can be supplied by cheque, made payable to Broadway URC. Winners of the 2018 Community Project Awards will be announced at the URC General Assembly in July. Charissa King is Reform’s Production and Marketing Officer
This is an extract from an article that was published in the May 2018 edition of Reform