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Faith in stock

09 August 2013

IT IS taking the church to the people where they shop. In Kirkby town centre, Liverpool diocese, three lock-up shops or retail units in a covered shopping precinct have been made available to churches, discounted to a very low rental price.

The four Anglican churches of Kirkby Team Ministry are involved, as are four Roman Catholic and two Nonconformist churches. Also in the partnership is the local charity shop Tango (Together As Neighbours Giving Out), and other specialist community groups.

Leading the ecumenical outreach is the assistant curate in the Kirkby benefice, the Revd Jayne Van den Berg-Owens. She tells me that Tango has taken over one of the units as a charity shop; a second unit is the office; and the third and largest space is a community and worship area that now has a weekly programme of activities which includes back-to-work skills, budget and debt advice, bread-making, relaxation therapy, bereavement support, pastoral care, community art, and children's work.

Alongside the weekly programme at this Church in the Centre, there is also a "sacred space" to which people can come and spend some quiet time. Trained volunteers are available to offer confidential listening, and a prayer ministry, if required.

On Saturdays, there is time for worship. In the morning, there is a music workshop, open to any budding musicians, when a community choir will practise songs to be used in the worship that starts at 12.30 p.m., with half an hour of prayer and praise followed by a contemporary worship service to engage people of all ages, led by the Mission Impossible team.

Miss Berg-Owens says that they have had an In-Shops presence over the past two years, with fun days at Christmas and Easter which had an enormous response (above). This new venture, launched last month with another fun day and treasure hunt, offers more, with its quiet space and prayer for people during their busy everyday lives, and it seems to be valued.


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