St. Bartholomews in 2015

Written by Brenda. Posted in pp_StBarts

St. Bartholomew's Church and Centre

St Barts. Church and Centre is a contemporary building, opened in 1983, that replaced a larger Victorian church.

The building consists of the Church, the Centre, sheltered housing flats, and an adjacent Doctors' Surgery.

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You enter into a foyer/café area which is the weekday heart of the building. Two halls (one with a large kitchen) lead off the foyer and, to your right, is the worship area – Church and Chapel - and, passing through the Church, is the vestry and a medium-size office. On the first floor is the Parish Office and further small offices and a meeting room overlooking the worship area.

Above the Centre are several flats for the elderly, managed by a housing association and adjacent is the Doctors’ Surgery: both of these have separate entrances.

To the rear of the Centre is the original, Georgian, Grade-II listed rectory (Fellowship House) which has been converted to flats for affordable housing, again managed by a housing association. The ground-floor space of the building is leased to a Children’s Nursery.

Adjacent to the site is the 1983, 4-bedroom Rectory with garage and large garden.

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St Bart’s Centre

The Parish's vision was for the Centre to be a gateway into the life of the Church by being open, active and welcoming to the community.

We are open and in use daily from 9 am till 4.00 pm and again into the evening to accommodate a variety of groups. We also share our building and Church for worship by other Christian denominations.

The Centre currently employs a caretaker, part-time cleaners, a part-time lettings co-ordinator, two part-time Parish administrators, providing 5 day-a-week cover between them, and a full-time Cafe Manager.

Bart’s Café – ‘Food and Friendship’

We are used by the whole community. In addition to light refreshments we serve hot meals, which are especially appreciated by the older users who would otherwise rely on ready-meals or a sandwich. They also find friendship, a listening ear and often practical help with their needs from the staff. Our Café Manager also organises a programme of social events. Church members organise a regular ‘Scrabble Club’ and a Book/Poetry Club.

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We welcomed 17 users to an open meeting and their overwhelming view was that it was ‘warm, welcoming and friendly.’ But we would like to find ways to attract more of the diverse Newham Community that pass our doors.

We see the Cafe as being integral to the building, to Bart's Church, and to the whole parish and subsidise its running costs to maintain our mission in the community.

Future Developments

We have recently been in discussions with the Doctors' Surgery who need to expand their space to meet NHS requirements and agreed that they should submit a funding application to the NHS for (their) part of the redevelopment costs. If successful this will involve a major rebuild of the Centre and loss of some rental income during the building process. We have begun taking professional advice on this and proposed appointing an Operations Manager to oversee this and all our property matters (the temporal side of the Church!). We did not make an appointment and have decided to wait on the outcome of the funding application (early summer); possibly we may require a dedicated project manager. A number of options are available to us for any additional funding that may be required. If unsuccessful the Surgery has a commitment to us for a further 8 years or so.

The Church

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Worship

Our worship at St Bart’s can best be described as being in the liberal, “light” Anglo-Catholic tradition.

Our main Sunday service is a 10.00 am Eucharist with an ad-hoc choir; the first Sunday of the month is an “all-age” Eucharist and we also have a monthly ‘Healing’ service with the laying on of hands, prayerand anointing with oil.

We have also held ‘open intercessions’ where congregation members can light a candle and share their prayer with the whole Church.

We hold a Thursday lunchtime Communion, with a time for a short discussion on a ‘Thought for the Day’ type topic which is increasingly popular and welcomes café users, along with worshippers from our own and other Churches.

Newham, being one of the most ethnically mixed Boroughs in the country, attracts people from all cultures and backgrounds. We have members who are traditional East-Enders and others whose ethnicity reflects the diversity of the Borough. It is a challenge to find creative ways to engage with newcomers to help them feel a ‘stakeholder’ in our Worship and Church Life.

We have good relations with two local care homes where we hold regular Eucharists and services for special occasions, supported by lay members.

At an open meeting we said that we were open to a greater variety of forms of worship – “jazz it up a bit”. We would welcome a flexible and sympathetic moderniser! Mindful also of those who are comfortable with the familiar.

Lay Ministry

Some of our congregation have taken part in Christian education and training courses and this is an area we would like to explore further: to discover and use the ‘hidden talents’ amongst our folk. Newham Deanery is beginning to develop its own local, contextual training so there is scope to use this in nurturing new believers, and provide training in pastoral care, evangelism, and youth work.

Children’s and Youth work

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We are very fortunate in having a growing Sunday school with a dedicated leader and helpers who are developing a very lively Club for our younger members.

At the monthly All-Age Worship the children lead the prayers and readings and have performed on special occasions e.g. Easter and Christmas.

One of our best-supported activities is the annual weekend away for young people at a local outdoor activity centre (Stubbers). We get participants from neighbouring churches and the wider community and often have to turn people away. We would like to see more of these kinds of events!

Pastoral Care

We have a licensed Pastoral Assistant much of whose present ministry takes place among Café and Centre users and finds engaging in conversations about life and its problems to be the best opportunity to demonstrate Christ’s love. We now have a real fellowship of people sharing their joys and pains, and this has led to the setting up of a ‘Bethany Group’ for people of any faith or none to have an opportunity to share their burdens, worries and problems in more depth, with the opportunity for prayer if they wish.

Discipleship

We are also looking forward to continue with our successful ‘Study Days’ with invited speakers. These have drawn in people from around the area. Bible Study, both clergy- and lay-led has been a popular feature and we would welcome anything which will help us to ‘learn, laugh, and grow together spiritually.’

The Rector and St Bart’s

Although responsible for the whole Parish we would expect the Rector to focus on worship, nurture and pastoral care at St Bart’s.

So, for our Parish, we are looking for someone who will:

  • Consolidate the expansion of the team by working across the 3 Churches to form a strategy for working together with our varied human resources in Mission and Ministry. Respect and work within the worship traditions of each of the Churches.

  • Be committed to inner-city ministry with all its joys and pains and be willing to work with and care for all the facets of our diverse congregation.

  • Maintain the close link we have with the E6 churches through the Leaders meetings and, particularly, the close cooperation we have with our Methodist neighbours.

  • Actively encourage and nurture participation in worship and other aspects of church life by the laity and lead us in developing worship which is meaningful, relevant and engaging for the cultures and ages represented in our Churches and the local community.

  • Inspire people into faith, nurture new disciples and sustain those already on the journey.

  • Celebrate and develop the ministry of our Church Centre and Cafe and help develop greater transparency between the work of the Centre and the Church.

  • Support the growing ministry to our children and develop activities with our youth.