The Story So Far…
In December 2017, the Revd. Sonya Marshall started Marshside – a Congregation of Emmanuel Parish in Southport – to reach the people who live on its relatively unchurched and unreached ‘Marshside Estate’.
In the early stages a proportion of the people attending were not church-goers. As a result we didn’t have sung worship. However, Secular and Christian songs were both used in times of reflection, and as teaching aids for various themes and topics.
Over a short space of time relationships gelled and people started sharing honestly with each other, encouraging one another and building each other up. The group also enjoyed going out to celebrate my birthday, with 19 of us going out for a meal in a local pub.
We soon ran a small Alpha Group, which resulted in members of that group deciding to either follow Jesus for the first time, or deepening their faith and commitment. It was a real joy when a new couple who were attending the group arranged for a young boy to have his dream fulfilled of driving a train, due to one of our members (Mike), who manages a heritage railway, organising it for him.
Various creative activities have happened throughout the year, too…
- We went bowling on the adjacent bowling-green, with members of Emmanuel church instructing us on the rules of the game, followed by an interesting talk on ‘Life’s Biases’.
- A local artist (who attends the group) has painted parabolic pictures for us, whilst at the same time sharing aspects of his Christian faith.
- We had our own walk down memory lane, choosing pick and mix sweets and then looking at our pick and mix culture (and religion!)
- We had a young missionary visit us from Albania, and were able to give her a gift to help her in her work.
- We delivered postcards on Valentine’s Day with chocolate hearts to the Marshside Estate , reminding them that God loves them and that He believes in them.
Here are come encouraging comments from our members…
“I feel blessed to be part of this group. The atmosphere is one of friendly acceptance.” (Marilyn)
“There is genuine love throughout the group and we are all one family, shining a light through our faith.” (Julie)
What the future holds…
In the near future we hope to start meeting in a local pub, where we can invite our non-churchgoing friends for a meal, and then invite them to stay on for a short gathering afterwards.
By John Durkin