Churches in Dinnington came together to host a free BBQ for the village on August bank holiday. Despite heavy clouds we were delighted to be joined by a wide cross section of the community. We lost track of how many people came, but our stock of 300 burgers and sausages were all eaten. The chapel was already filling up and buzzing with conversation half an hour before our advertised start. Our combination of posters, social media and word of mouth advertising had succeeded in reaching people. The few cakes left at the end of the afternoon, donated by a local supermarket, were passed on to the Salvation Army food bank.
As well as being a rare civic opportunity for people to gather, the BBQ was designed as an opportunity to ask people, and young people in particular, for their views on what Dinnington needs. Siggy Parratt-Halbert from the Learning Network joined us to encourage young people to write their hopes on a series of graffiti boards she had created for us. These boards are now on tour around other village youth activities, collecting further ideas and starting conversations.
Dinnington is one of many neighbourhoods across our District still scarred – a generation on – by pit closures, compounded by a decade of austerity and now the current cost of living crisis. In recent months the Methodist congregation has been facing up to challenging questions about whether they can continue their current model of being church. The prospect of “giving up” on Dinnington felt uncomfortable, but maintaining the status quo is becoming a heavy burden.
Rev Angela Pothecary and members of the congregation began reaching out and speaking with local people, assisted by Circuit Operations Manager Richard Dearden and District Mission Enabler Neil Harland. As is so often the case, we discovered that other local Christians were simultaneously feeling similar promptings, and keen to work together. A common theme emerged of need for a safe space for young people and a form of church which would make sense for them. Local people of peace seem keen to work with us. Sporting activities at the BBQ were organised by one of Dinnington Town FC’s coaches. The local MP and newly appointed council Neighbourhood Coordinator joined us for the afternoon.
We don’t yet know what our long term presence in Dinnington will look like, but we will continue our ecumenical listening, networking and discernment through the autumn.
May we now hand what we have achieved so far to God, may his spirit continue to move and gather his disciples together, for we know nothing is impossible if it is of God.
We hold the congregation of Dinnington in our prayers, as big decisions have to be made.
May Gods healing balm bring comfort, and peace.
May we also hold all our congregations and denominations
In prayer as we continue to explore this project
No matter how scary it may feel we know God goes
Before us, surrounds us, and will have our backs
We lift ourselves and the communities we serve
And may we be blessed in all we strive to achieve
In the name of Jesus Christ our saviour.