A Hastings church benefit local estate
A Salvation Army church in Ore, Hastings, is working to transform the lives of individuals and families, sharing hope and blessing a deprived community.
Hastings is an area of deprivation with high unemployment rates. Hastings Temple Church is striving to change things around on the nearby estate of Downs Farm.
In 2008, prompted by HOPE 08, the Salvation Army members acted on the need for 'a positive presence on the estate'.8. They began to provide food parcels for those in need, a monthly children's club and advice to those who asked. Soon many people regularly came to rely on the volunteers for assistance..
Wendy Watkins, an Associate Officer and Territorial Envoy for Hastings Temple said: "We just wanted to serve and bless people on the estate a mile away from our church. It was only in 2010 that we realised that we had unknowingly planted an expression of Church, based from the Downs Farm community centre."
The volunteers are continuing to help local residents today and the work is developing.
A monthly 'Messy Church' style gathering called Family Fusion brings around 80 people from the community together on a Saturday afternoon, encouraging young families to take part in arts, crafts and fun. Each month’s theme tells a story expressed through puppets and there is time for the community to get to know each other. The group has a vision to see a parent and toddler group established soon which would link in and build on Family Fusion activities.
There are now different forms of 'church' all happening once a month, including Sunday evening contemporary worship, the Family Fusion group, Bible studies and a recently formed community choir. The choir is putting on its first concert in aid of a Cystic Fibrosis charity after a local child was diagnosed with the disorder.
Wendy continued: "People trust us and know us now, and we are passionate to provide families with an opportunity for a better future. We have seen people transformed, but there is still so much need in the area.
"We feel part of HOPE and as such are looking to share hope with our community through our words and actions. We long to benefit the community, but we don’t always know what we’re stepping out into. Inspiration from HOPE and Messy Church has encouraged us to think about how we can reach out with God's love in a relevant way."