Mining new hope in Nottingham
A study group from Calverton Baptist Church, Nottingham offers fellowship and hope to its people in a once thriving mining village, writes Peter Beeden
It all started with prayer. About 21 years ago a study group were meeting weekly and were about to come to the end of their course, but during times of prayer and fellowship they felt that God was telling them that there was more although they didn’t know what. So they decided to keep meeting every week over several months praying that God would reveal His plans. During this time they felt God telling them it was going to be alright.
At this time the phased closure of the colliery in the village was taking place which would lead to its eventual closure. This inevitably meant that men who worked at the colliery and lived in the village were being made redundant; this had a social effect on those men as they had lost the comradeship of their colleagues. Numbers of the older men could be seen congregating in twos or threes in the village or just wandering around looking “lost”.
The group felt that God was directing them towards this situation so they decided to open up the church for ex miners to come in and have fellowship with one another so they set up a weekly morning/lunch time club at the Baptist Church to provide a meeting place for these ex miners, hence the name of ‘The Hope Group’ to give hope to these people.
At first no one came and it took about six weeks for someone to come in and during the following weeks more and more people came, the only thing was they were older lonely people and unemployed people and not the ex miners they had initially felt guided towards. Then a quote came to mind “The important thing is setting out. If you don’t know where you are meant to go, how God can direct you?”
Being true Baptists food was provided in the form of free soup or sandwiches. Also bulk items of food were bought and broken down into smaller batches of food that could be bought by those who attended, as money had become an issue for many of them. The number of people who attended grew as time went by, at no time over its history has any charge been levied on those who attend, money has been donated to the group from various sources i.e. The Baptist Church, local Councillors and donations are also received from members who attend the group.
The group has evolved over the years its members are retired people who are mainly on their own. It now provides a coffee morning and a two course cooked lunch for those who attend, and again no charge is made for this as all money is derived from donations.
The Hope Group meets a need in the village for people who are lonely, to come together to socialise, have companionship, friendship and provide pastoral care for each other. The team of helpers are seen as people who will support them and who they can trust to provide guidance if required, it is also seen as a safe place to go and many friendships have been made and sustained. There are on average 30 retired men and women who attend what is truly the Hope Group.