Where there’s God’s will, there’s a way
Ann-Marie Abbasah reports from an inspirational church-led charity in Hythe, Hampshire
Julia Cross prayed for direction when she and her husband moved to Southampton, to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren. A committed Christian and former teacher, Julia had planned to retire but felt an urge to do something within her new community. She just didn’t know what.
Using the internet, Julia looked for churches to attend. She came across Cornerstone Hythe United Reformed Church, which was advertising for a project manager to run Families Matter – a charity set up by members of the congregation 20 years ago.
‘I had been praying: “Please God, show me what you want me to do. I don’t know what to do.” It almost felt like jumping off the edge of a cliff in faith – but God had something for us,’ recalls Julia.
‘When I saw the advert, I immediately knew it was the right thing for me. I applied and got the job. I was thrilled to be serving God in this way.’
Families Matter began in 1998 with church members wanting to live out their vision to help local families. ‘It seems like an affluent area but there’s an awful lot of poverty, drugs, problems,’ says Julia. ‘I was shocked. You don’t think you will see that here in the New Forest.
‘Church members called a meeting and invited schools, doctors, educational psychologists in the area. They asked: “As a church, what can we do?” There was a lot of a lot of young people getting into trouble with the police. Members were told that they needed to help families before they got to the stage they were in.’ So, the church began offering parenting classes. This was so successful that the church then branched out to provide a wide range of community services, including a school support service, a women’s wellbeing group, drop-in sessions for people living with dementia, a professional puppet group and much more…
Families Matter won the 2016 United Reformed Church Community Project Awards – a biannual scheme sponsored by Congregational Insurance. For more information about Families Matter, visit www.families-matter.org.uk. Winners of the 2018 Community Project Awards will be announced at the URC’s General Assembly in July. Ann-Marie Abbasah is the URC’s Communications Officer
This is an extract from an article that was published in the June 2018 edition of Reform