Community Ministry in Ellesmere Port
Rose Uitterdijk is the new Community Minister in Ellesmere Port, building on the pioneering work that Trevor Beckett began there five years ago. Rose is a newly accredited minister, and this strategic missional work is supported and enabled through Baptist Home Mission. Giving to Home Mission really does make a difference, and the work going on here in Ellesmere Port is testimony to that. This is an exciting and unusual opportunity for a new minister, but a task that Rose is looking forward to. She reflects...
“The focus of my work will be largely mission through working together with other ministers, churches and individuals. I will continue Chaplaincy at Hollymere, a large, recently-built retirement complex, which has a regular 'congregation' of around 15-20. I do a monthly Sunday Service, a monthly midweek communion, film nights and also regular visiting. This is a fantastic opportunity to take church to people where they are, rather than waiting and expecting them to come to us on our terms.
I am involved in work in the local primary school, with School Pastors and have opportunities with the Academy high school. I also work with Trinity Methodist church which has recently developed their building as a community centre and café.
While some of these things are already in place, I don’t yet know what the whole of my work will look like. I’ve joined Urban Expression as a team leader and my husband Dirk and I are keen to develop a 'missional community' to join us here. We’ve begun meeting with a small number of people on Friday evenings twice a month to explore what this may look like. As yet we cannot say if it will develop into a church plant or church or remain a Baptist missional expression, it is all very embryonic.
What is encouraging is that quite a number of others want to 'come with us' and get involved Ellesmere Port is very underchurched...one Anglican church for about 80,000 people. Some of the other free churches cannot afford to keep ministry in the area, so for example the URC minister has retired and is not being replaced. The current Methodist minister will retire in less that two years and currently they do not think they will replace her either. Yet there are unprecedented opportunities for mission here… for so long Ellesmere Port has felt neglected, but this is palpably changing and it is a place that is crying out for more workers.
Part of my vision is to take time just to 'be' in Ellesmere Port...to get to know people, to have time to hang out with them and build relationships. I want to aid the community with their projects rather than going in all guns blazing with what I think they need. This takes time and I recognise that it will need to be a significant investment on my part. One area however that I do plan to explore is some chaplaincy or mentoring in a newly built FE college...I think this will be a great way of building relationships particularly as it has a cafe open to the public which is quite well used.
I have a clear sense of call to Ellesmere Port but am leaving space to see what opportunities open up as I begin to spend more time here.”
“God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery . . . Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27)