A redundant manse, a lack of young people and the need for cheap digs can all add up to a new way of doing church, finds Chris Dowd
What do you do with a redundant manse? Hull Team Churches have come up with a novel solution that may help churches connect with students and open up new ways of ‘doing’ church.
The churches I work with in Hull are only a short walk from university and college campuses and student accommodation, and yet there has been no student presence, nor any hope of one, for a very long time. Occasionally, a student shows up in the hope of connecting with other students but leaves disappointed and either joins one of the more conservative ‘student-focused’ churches or simply fails to connect with any local church at all.
Attempting outreach to students can be frustrating. Many churches, wishing to engage with the lost generations, find themselves without the remotest idea how to begin. The paradox is that churches discover, in attempting student ministry, that to attract a group of students you already need to have a group of students.
So, how do you break the cycle? Peter’s House is a three-year project funded by the United Reformed Church Yorkshire Synod using a redundant manse in the Avenues area of Hull – right in the middle of Student Land. In exchange for a volunteer commitment of 400 hours a year and a contribution towards house running expenses, six students will be provided with accommodation within walking distance of the university. The project has been careful to make volunteering as a resident more financially rewarding than taking a traditional part-time job.
The project taps into one of the most exciting movements within the fresh expressions of church community: new monasticism. New monastics are Christians who commit to live together in groups, to witness and to outreach the community they move into. …
Chris Dowd is a minister for the Hull Area Team Ministry. The Peter’s House project starts in September 2017. Applications are open to anyone studying full-time in Hull and the East Riding. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hullurcchurches.org.uk
This is an extract from the February 2017 edition of Reform.