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Reform Magazine | July 15, 2024

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Place of running water - Reform Magazine

Place of running water

Laurence Wareing reports on a church community project offering food, books and more

If, as the Christian poet Steve Turner once observed, ‘there’s something quite religious’ about sharing a cup of coffee, then Sanctuary Café in Lymm is proof of just how far a cuppa can go.

The café, based in the United Reformed church, was inspired very specifically by a vision of the biblical prophet Ezekiel. He describes water running from under the threshold of a rebuilt temple, nourishing the trees and crops either side of the river it forms. The work of a Spirit-filled hub, in other words, sustaining the community around it.

It’s an unusually apt vision for the village of Lymm near Warrington, whose name is said to be derived from
a Celtic word meaning ‘place of running water’.

Sue Eadon had been pursuing the café idea for ten years before the Revd Sally Willett, who was then the minister there, took the idea to Lymm and District Churches Together, and the vision began to bear fruit. With a lot of prayer and an initial group of around 35 volunteers from local churches, the idea of a Christian café, bookshop and events centre at the heart of the village began to take shape.

Over 12 years later, the café opens from nine to three, Tuesday to Friday, and nine to four on Saturday. The mobile bookshop that Sue had been running since well before the café launched remains a permanent fixture as a small commercial venture alongside the soups, cakes and drinks. There is space for mums and toddlers, and each Friday in term time ‘Kingdom Kids’ runs for pre-school children – ‘an hour of songs, stories and craft’…

Sanctuary Café was awarded a prize of £2,000 in the United Reformed Church Community Project Awards – an initiative sponsored by Congregational


This is an extract from an article published in the December 2021/January 2022 edition of Reform

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