Once again I leave a local church after a Together Weekend feeling blessed, encouraged and hopeful. When we take bold (perhaps even risky) steps and join God in his mission, we often receive for more than we give.
Let me tell you about St. Andrew’s…..with a small team of wonderful volunteers I went to St. Andrew’s, Benton in the Newcastle Central & East Circuit to work with them as they hosted a Together Weekend. The weekend took the normal format – meeting on the Friday evening & most of Saturday – & covering these 5 themes;
1. Together with God
2. Hands together (prayer)
3. Togetherness (church community)
4. Together in mission
5. Stepping out together
It was a delight to see people engage with the sessions & simply enjoy the time given to being in each other’s company & sharing food. A great chance to get to know each other – even for those who’ve shared a pew for many years.
This Together Weekend culminated with a practical opportunity to engage in mission on the Sunday morning when they participated in ‘get out of church’. So, after a short time of worship & commissioning, teams of people left the building for their pre-arranged activities which included prayer walks, litter picking, a service in a residential home & hymn singing in the pub. Those who would find it difficult to engage with these activities remained in the building but joined a virtual prayer walk of their community using photographs of the area.
Some of us gathered back for a slightly different evening service with plenty of opportunity for stories & prayer. Those who’d been to the residential home reported that they had been so well received & they expect this to become a regular event. One said, ‘it was so good to take a greeting & a sense of love on behalf of the church.’ Those who sang hymns in the pub admitted that although it hadn’t been the easiest thing to do, they knew it had made a difference – particularly for those who responded to their offer of prayer. Again, the comment was made, ‘we must do this again’.
Reflecting on the weekend as a whole, people said;
‘There was a great feeling of fellowship and togetherness.’
‘I came not very sure of what I was coming to & with a sense of trepidation, but it’s been absolutely amazing.’
‘There was a lot of fun and laughter….it wasn’t all terribly serious, even though mission is a serious subject. Sharing a few laughs really helped things along.’
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