DAILY BLOGS FROM THE TEAM
Thu 10th May: Day 1
We have reached our first destination of Lee Abbey Knowle West Small Missional Community. Our Team is – Paul, Tim, Sheila, PK, Jonathan, and Esther. We were welcomed by the Community and local supporters who are working here bringing God’s hope and light. We walked the area and prayed for God’s blessing upon Knowle West, ending the day in prayer and a meal.
Fri 11th May : Day 2
We began at the Knowle West Community with morning prayers, reflecting on the previous day’s activities, the mission of their Community, and the day and journey to come. We readied ourselves for the journey to our next location – London.
We split into two groups – one striding out with Esther for South Ealing Tube Station, to continue their journey to London by rail. The other (Tim and Paul), had been invited to do assemblies at a local school, which were a real joy. Paul had created a fantastic prop (aka four card strips, hinged) which was used to help tell the story of the man lowered through the roof of a house by his friends, to be healed by Jesus. The kids seemed to really enjoy it, learning in the process the importance and value of friendship, and how friends can work together to help point people towards Jesus.
We eventually all gathered at Lee Abbey London with their Community which provides accommodation for students of all faiths or none. The evening was spent mingling with students, following which Christian Comedian and Magician, Tom Elliott, provided the evening’s entertainment.
Sat 12th May : Day 3
We awoke refreshed and ready for the day ahead but reflect on the difficult work undertaken by the Community here. The students who live here are young and many are international, with whom faith isn’t generally so high on their agenda. When we join the Community for morning prayers we pray for the Spirit of God to fall anew on this place.
We reach Oxford, and join a church plant sale at St James’ Church, Cowley. We’re made to feel very welcome, and enjoy conversations about the Journey with many who are there. As the day winds down, we enjoy prayer time in the vicarage, and plan our involvement in Sunday’s church services. Before the close of day we reflect on what we have each learned so far on the Journey. Highlights are:
- Community is not a place – it’s a people. We are reminded of the vastness and variety of God’s people, working together in a ministry of reconciliation.
- The importance of simply being with people where they are – sitting alongside and listening.
- The importance of being in the present moment, which is where God will always be found.
- The power to bless. The people that we visit are changed by us coming and being with them and blessing them.
- That we should set aside our own agendas and trust that the Lord has gone ahead of us on this Journey and then fall into step with the way He has planned for us.
Sun 13th May : Day 4
As ever, we are hugely grateful to our hosts in Oxford for their warm welcome and generous hospitality, including a cooked breakfast in the church hall. We were able to cover four church services at St James and St Francis Churches in the parish of Cowley, including a Punjabi service! During the services, we’re each asked questions about the Lee Abbey and Scargill Communities, the purpose of the Journey and its links to the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ initiative. It’s a great opportunity to share what we’re doing.
We arrive at St Peters Church in Wellsbourne for an early evening service presided over by Kate Mier. Kate, who’s currently coming to the end of a year in Scargill’s Community served in this church from 2004. Those who came along were clearly delighted to steal her back for the evening. During the service, Kate asks us questions about our experiences of Community, Hospitality, and the Journey. One thing we all agree on – the Journey is helping us to see clear links between these three things – and we see God’s heart at the centre of them.
Mon 14th May : Day 5
Some of us forget what day it is, or what date, or both. But we’re pretty sure that it’s Day 5, the halfway point for the Journey. We begin with a prayer meeting in St
Peter’s Church, Kineton. We are so impressed at the creativity of the local community in constructing a prayer tent within the church.
We’re back on the road and when we arrive at the house of the Lee Abbey Aston Community, we’re made to feel welcome. A couple of us go to see the work of the local Foodbank and to chat with the volunteers and clients. Paul and I spend a few hours at the Salvation Army Youth & Community Centre. They show us around, and we spend
time with some of the local kids as they enjoy some time out and games together.
The Aston Community has arranged a prayer meeting / prayer walk at the local church. We pray for their work here, and for the local area. This is a predominantly Muslim area, and our prayers extend to the Muslim community as they prepare for the start of Ramadan.
Tue 15th May : Day 6
This morning, we split up to have morning prayer with the Aston Community and Aston Parish. We also say goodbye to one of our pilgrims, PK, and find ourselves missing him very much.
We reach our new destination within the Derbyshire Dales. The group heads up to nearby Longstone Edge to take in the beauty of the local
landscape. Afterwards, we all make our way through the village, stopping to pray at key locations. The village is very vibrant – alive, very much a working village. But there are still some significant areas in which God’s breakthrough and protection are particularly needed.
Wed 16th May : Day 7
It’s a much cooler and breezier day today but we make our way to the Methodist Church for prayer, stopping off at St Giles Church. Here, we admire the creativity of local people in the shape of their annual flower display on the theme of Nursery Rhymes. We pray again for this village and locality in the Methodist church.
The journey continues, and we arrive in Tyldesley, Manchester and meet members of the churches at a Community Café. It takes food close to its sell-by date and provides free meals, acting as a family drop-in centre. Paul and I head off to different primary schools to take part in assemblies – once again we talk to the children about the Journey, being friends together and friends pointing others towards Jesus. We split into three groups and spend time within the three parishes, reflecting and praying. It is clear to us how much the church and local people care about this community, but as ever there are some real obstacles and challenges to be prayed into.
We arrive at St Stephen’s School and church which has prepared a veritable feast. We learn more about the area and share about the Journey. A talent evening follows the meal and we contribute with stories, poems and testimonies.
Thu 17th May : Day 8
We’re all tired and a little disorientated by now, but we’ve developed such strong bonds together, supporting each and ‘being’ in addition to ‘doing’ Community. We gather at St George’s Church and chat with others from the wider church team over tea before setting out on a short prayer walk in the local area.
There are issues to be addressed in any community, but such potential too. We sense a beating heart just below the surface of this locality, and we pray for the realisation of new hope. We pray that the churches would become stronger as they work together, reaching out in the strength of God’s love.
Then we’re and on our way to Southport in the Diocese of Liverpool. We are unexpectedly at the seaside! We join members of various church denominations for a meal and are treated to a sensational ecumenical evening service at St John Stones Roman Catholic Church. The churches meet together for prayer on a Tuesday, but this joint service has been inspired by our Journey. So many people have come, and the Salvation Army band and singers are here too. The service is filled with a heady mix of praise, worship, and joy, as, a demonstration of churches united and working together for one God.
Fri 18th May : Day 9
We wake to a sunny day in Southport as we start to discover the warmth in every place we’ve been thus far. Paul and Sheila go ahead to Bradford to spend time at the St Stephens CE Primary School. When they arrive, they find a picture of God’s Kingdom: different nationalities, even different faiths all coming together and experiencing God’s love. Referring to Samuel choosing David, they explain to the children that no matter how clever we might think we are, it’s what’s on the inside that matters to God.
Meanwhile, back in Southport, Esther, Jonathan and I share chocolates to the people we meet on the street. We find ourselves in some great conversations with opportunities to talk about the Journey. We finish the day at a social event which has been organised for us at St James Church Hall. We answer questions about the journey, grateful too for those who provided hospitality along the way.
Sat 19th May : Day 10
We arrive at Scargill – balloons and bunting adorn the driveway. It may be in part for the royal wedding, but in our new found humility we decide it’s for us! Community and friends form a human tunnel for us to walk through as we make our way the final few yards into the doors of Scargill House.
So, we’ve now travelled 900 miles, spent 9 nights in 9 different beds, never quite being sure where we are or have just come from. We’ve met many people in different situations and have had so many conversations. Some areas have been affluent, others deprived. But we’ve been made so welcome at every location. We’ve bonded too, becoming our own little community – loving, laughing, and supporting each other through the ups and downs. We have experienced what it means to BE community in addition to DOING community, feeling God’s presence with us throughout.
And so it only remains for us to thank all who have provided support along the way. To you all, ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done’, wherever we journey in this world…