Feeding hearts and souls as well as tummies

Feeding hearts and souls as well as tummies

Pioneering Parishes helped churches in Cosham say yes to their local community in need

Photo: Cosham larder serves 80 to 100 each week

The benefice of Cosham and Wymering is in one of the poorest parts of Portsmouth and is led by Rev Amy Webb. She shares her experience of the Pioneering Parishes webinar – and the changes that have happened as a result.

Amy says:

“At the start of 2020, just before the pandemic hit, a small group of parishioners and I undertook the Pioneering Parishes training course.

“Pioneering Parishes promotes the idea that pioneering should be a natural part of healthy parish ministry. It encourages church leaders and all sorts of ordinary church goers from all sorts of backgrounds to develop a more pioneering outlook, releasing them to develop a mixed ecology of church.

small pavilion in a park with community members outside
“Our opportunity to be the body of Christ out in our community” – Cosham Larder

“The training, led by Greg Bakker, helped us to develop a ‘let’s give it a go’ attitude and challenged us to set about changing the culture of our church, which over time had become very inward looking.

“This then meant that during the pandemic, when a secular charity asked us if we would be willing to set up and run a food pantry in a local park, we felt able to say yes. And we said ‘yes’ without us having any financial or human resources to speak of, or any firm plan as to how this would be possible.

“Step by step we worked it out. This was our opportunity to be the body of Christ out in our community, to share the love of God, build relationships and see what might develop from that.

“Two years on the Cosham Larder serves 80 to 100 people every week with good food at a low cost and we have developed a community of people who gather at our location not just for food but to receive love and support from our volunteers and from one another.

woman browses the shelves inside Cosham Larder
The community larder has now spawned other ministries

“We will be launching a satellite hub of the Larder in our church building next week, alongside a wellbeing cafe. We are also looking to develop a Healthy Lifestyles group, in response to requests from those accessing the Cosham Larder.”

One of Amy’s churchwardens, Roger Hutchin, Churchwarden of St Philip, Cosham, adds: “I joined the first Pioneering Parishes course to find out how I could support the pioneer minister we hoped would be appointed to replace the one who had just left.

“I now realise that pioneering is something we can and should all do, and we have put that into practice with a number of activities.

“I never envisaged when I did the first course before COVID, that I would be helping to set up a Community Larder in our local park during lockdown, and after 21 months be spending most of the week serving and sharing God’s love with 800 families across our twinned parishes.”  

Amy reports that Roger shares the systems models used in Next Steps with the PCC on a regular basis.

If you would like to find out how you can shift the energy of your church outwards sign up for Pioneering Parishes First Steps today.

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