As part of the Changing Market Towns Project, the day was “to come together, celebrate, be inspired and to think together how we can draw others into the journey of faith.” The day drew on the experience of practitioners, ordained and lay, from across the country as well as within the Diocese of Ely. There were opportunities to worship, explore prayer and browse displays with a wide range of resources to encourage mission and community involvement. Perhaps most importantly, people from across our market towns were able to meet, share ideas and encourage one other in the tireless work they’re involved in within their own communities.
After an introduction about the project from Mike Booker (Bishop’s Change Officer for Market Towns), Bishop Graham Cray gave the opening talk. Bishop Graham explored the relationship between our churches and the fast-changing culture of the world in which they are set and brought inspiring stories of how fresh expressions of church can build new bridges into the parts of the community that currently have little engagement with their parish churches.
The afternoon offered a choice of workshops where people discussed what can make market town churches grow, how to shape a vision, help people on the journey of faith,engage with children and young people and discover multiple ways of reaching out into the community.
Over lunch and coffee there were a host of displays for people to browse resources, chat, ask questions as well as to gain first-hand experience of sessions using new techniques in various settings. It was heart-warming to see such a diverse group of people all together, from children using CSI discipleship tools to others exploring, networking or praying in the prayer room.
It was all made possible by volunteers from across the diocese’s market towns who joined together in planning, stewarding, providing refreshments, leading worship and prayer, and even standing in the rain until all participants had been directed to the car park!
It was exciting to see so many people engaged and enthused by the possibilities of cohesion and growth with existing flourishing as well as the development of new avenues in diocese.
One-to-one interviews were conducted by our Digital Evangelism Manager, Eleanor Puttock, who asked direct questions about the speaker’s experiences and knowledge. Watch this space for their availability.
To find out more about the project or if you have any questions, please visit our website at http://www.elydiocese.org/changing-market-towns