Jubilee Round up - cross section of local church Jubilee celebrations
Here are a few snapshots from around the country sent to the HOPE office by churches where HOPE’s Diamond Jubilee resources were used.
5,000 at South Reading street party
TV camera’s recorded the events as 5,000 people enjoyed a huge Big Jubilee Lunch in South Reading. The local Churches Together have become known for their family fun days and service to the community. As a result the council asked them to lead the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Visitors willingly took 2,000 Diamond Jubilee New Testaments from among sandwiches and quizzes set out on the tables stretching a quarter of a mile. A council representative who saw the army of church volunteers setting up before the event said she had a lump in her throat, she was so moved by the sense of purpose and fun.
Local vicar, Vernon Orr, said: “It felt like the whole community turned up and a well-organised army of volunteers meant clockwork organisation in getting the free food distributed. We were thrilled it was opened by well-known local John Madejski, owner of the Reading Football Club.”
Silver band in Bilton, Warwickshire
Churches in Bilton, south of Rugby, worked together to hold a huge street party and Jubilee lunch.
A silver band played the National Anthem and the churches provided a free barbecue, giving away souvenir mugs and Diamond Jubilee New Testaments to locals who attended.
Richard Street, an organiser, said: “Nothing has been done on this scale here before. We had nearly 2,000 people all having a fantastic time, despite the rain. Each gazebo-covered area had a host from a local church to make people feel welcome. It was generosity, care and attention from hosts that people were most touched by. One lady said she will try out Bilton Evangelical Church because she felt so comfortable.”
A BIG Thank You
Pastor Wunmi Oladunjoye, of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, started their Diamond Jubilee celebrations on London’s Old Kent Road by saying the Diamond Jubilee Grace before their buffet lunch. They used HOPE’s Big Thank You sheets so everyone could write a message of thanks or a prayer for the Queen, and they gave away copies of the Diamond Jubilee New Testament. Pastor Lola Ayeni, said: “Despite the rain, we had an amazing time... Everyone that got the Jubilee New Testaments was delighted with their gift.”
Neighbours now on first-name terms
For many the celebrations brought neighbours together for the first time. In Richmond Avenue, Benfleet, Essex, a street party on Monday brought together about 140 adults and children. They created a Facebook page for the street and more are joining each day; many were amazed at how many children there are in the street! Most people did not know who their neighbours were so they each wore a name badge with their house number and first name. As a result people now greet each other by name in the street! “There is now a completely different atmosphere in our road now,” was one comment.
Eleven churches work together in Portishead
Thousands flocked to Portishead’s Big Jubilee Lunch organised by the town’s churches. Eleven churches joined together to put on the free extravaganza at Battery Point to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Activities included a coconut shy, beat the goalie, face painting and crown making.
Debbie Bonne of Gordano Valley Church said: "We have all been baking like mad.” (They baked 4,000 cakes.) “It is the first time all the churches have worked together to put on something like this,” she added. “We all think it's a great idea. The Big Lunch was a huge success with a multitude of people turning up with picnic blankets and chairs. People from all parts of our community could be seen enjoying lunch provided by the churches in the town."
Other tents served up jerk chicken and rice, filled croissants and burgers and hot dogs. Portishead Parish curate, Rev Jeremy Putman, entertained the children with his balloon modelling tricks while Air Cadets ran the drinks stall and local teenagers ran the beat the goalie game.
“Loaves and fishes moment” for Croydon church catering team
A street party planned by Croydon’s Ruskin Road New Life Christian Centre was moved into the centre’s main hall due to bad weather. Croydon’s Mayor dropped in and said he was stunned by the scale of the operation. Kay McCabe, one of the organisers, said they had invited the local community and received 260 confirmed responses so cooked lunch for 300: “We experienced a loaves and fishes moment as by mid-afternoon we had fed over 1,000 people with a cooked meal and desert followed by cake and tea or coffee. We were overwhelmed by the response of the local community many commenting that ‘no-one has ever done anything like this’ for them.”
One of the highlights of the day was a portrait of the Queen made by children from the New Life Christian School using discarded, recycled and donated buttons. The portrait is now on show at Croydon’s central library. The church also gave away 200 copies of the Diamond Jubilee New Testament.
For many local people it was their first time in the church building. Some asked about the Alpha course held at the centre and one signed up to attend. Kay summed up the day: “We are SOOOOO excited!”
Visions of heaven
Local events each had their own special features. In Maidstone, the Royal Engineers provided a mini assault course for the 150 who gathered. In the Vale of Glamorgan, sumo wrestling and bouncy castles were highlights for the 250 guests at the tea party staged by Coastlands and St David’s Methodist churches in Colcot, Barry.
A handbell group played the National Anthem at the St Barnabas Big Jubilee Lunch in the London Borough of Sutton. More than 180 church members, local residents and Scout and Guide Association members and their families attended the Sutton event. Janice Clarke, one of the organisers, said: “The whole day was a ‘God moment’. Seeing people who did not know each other all enjoying themselves together, sharing food together and having lots of fun together could surely be said to be a ‘vision of heaven’.”
In Farnham thehighlight was water balloon volley ball! More than 200 people took part in the Big Jubilee Lunch they arranged. Local organisers said, “The biggest thing was the effect on the community, the conversations, the love and the care. It’s just the beginning; people are so hungry for community.”
Church catering facilities were put to good use in St Andrews Church, Devizes, where the church was set out in the style of a traditional ‘street party’ complete with bunting and union flags; even the church flowers were red, white and blue. Church members invited their neighbours, friends and anyone they knew who might be alone on the day. The free two course meal for 120 included the loyal toast. There were prizes for quiz winners and children who had made crowns to wear.
Pin the tail on the corgi
Wendy Broom of Worcester Baptist Church wrote to tell HOPE: “Thank you that you inspired others to act.” The church held a party for the neighbourhood. “We were delighted to see many people respond so positively,” Wendy said. “The place was buzzing.” Local people were amazed that the party was free. As well as food made by church members, there was a bouncy castle, treasure hunt for the Queen`s jewels, pin the tail on the corgi and craft activities - making flags and crowns. All the children were given a helium balloon to take home.
For many it was a first-step in building stronger community. “Thank you for all you have done in both inspiring and enabling us to go forward with this small step of outreach and praise,” said Nigel Nichols of Princes Street United Reformed Church in Yeovil, Somerset. They held a special church service, using HOPE’s Jubilee quiz and giving away the souvenir New Testaments.
For more seasoned local church community event organisers, HOPE’s support gave them courage to put faith into words at the parties. Tyrells Way, Chelmsford, Essex has a reputation for good street parties and this year they offered the souvenir New Testaments as gifts wrapped in red white and blue tissue paper with a Union flag as a stamp. Including a God-dimension to the day was “down to the inspiration of HOPE,” they said. One of the organisers commented: “People wanted the book that the queen loved. One child went home and asked ‘Mummy will you read it to me?’ Thank you letters were received from adults and children. Later that night a family came knocking for another two. We hadn’t got enough!”
Similarly, St Paul's English Methodist Church in Abergele, North Wales, held a Jubilee Garden Party “through the inspiration of your [www.hopetogether.org.uk] website”.