The Oasis, at 67 Central Road, Hugglescote, had its official opening on Saturday 17 May when tea, coffee and cakes were served all day. We were delighted to see every table filled at several times throughout the day and we also had a visit from our local MP Andrew Bridgen who offered his support.
This new community facility developed by Hugglescote Baptist Church provides the church with an opportunity to make new connections with the community and is ideally situated in the main shopping area in the village.
A number of years ago the church building in Hugglescote was demolished and that released some funding which allowed the church to purchase and redevelop this former chemist’s shop in Central Road. Church services on a Sunday take place at 10.30 in Hugglescote Community Centre, but The Oasis gives the church new opportunities to be more involved in the community.
The church realised that for many people, coming in to a church service without knowing anyone at the church is often a daunting prospect, whereas coming in to a cafe style setting is much more accessible. Rather than holding on to our funds in the hope of one day building a traditional church building for worship, we realised that God was calling us to think differently and focus on mission in a different context.
Initially The Oasis will be opened on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays as a cafe with refreshments and light lunches available, providing a relaxing and peaceful oasis where people can take time out from their busy lives to meet friends, chat with volunteers, and reflect on life and faith.
Moving forward, other activities will develop in response to the needs of the community. There are plans to work with Heartland Youth For Christ to offer a space for young people to meet after school, possibilities for running advice sessions, special interest groups, quiz nights and opportunities to explore the Christian faith for those who may wish to do so.
As well as the downstairs cafe area with space for around 24 visitors, The Oasis also has a meeting room upstairs which can comfortably accommodate 10 to 12 people and a smaller room intended as a prayer room for those wishing a quiet retreat. The garden at the rear of the property has great potential as a haven of peace as it is developed and brought into use over the summer months.
I have been very encouraged that the Hugglescote Baptist fellowship, a relatively small group with Home Mission funding to support a part-time pastor, nonetheless has a big heart for mission. They have been willing to take on this exciting challenge of running a cafe several times a week with the prospect of other events in The Oasis as they move forward.
It has also been great to see that as we have moved out in faith, offers of volunteer help from other churches in the village have been given and we are convinced that God will provide all that we need for the running of this centre. The Oasis is all about making connections with people at street level, providing a listening ear and an encouraging word, and responding to the needs that emerge.