Osmaston Road Baptist Church
A church built on Acts 2 that 'Never gives up'
Significant ministries to local schools and the homeless in Derby
Served 23,000 meals last year!
‘We’re Baptist but welcome from every tradition’ says Graham Watkins, minister of Home Mission supported ‘Ozzy Road’, an inner-city Baptist church in Derby. He describes the church as charismatic and urban, and it has changed significantly over the past 50 years: it has gone from being where the Mayor used to park his car, to being located in one of the most deprived areas in the country.
The heart of the church is built on those latter verses of Acts 2. They meet together, have all things in common and eat together. The church family is varied, comprising people who are homeless, families and professionals. They also take eating together to a level that rivals Biblical feats - they served 23,000 meals last year.
As the church journeys with people, Graham says it’s about being creative, recognising that people belong then believe (and then hopefully behave!), and growing the Kingdom of God. The church has two significant ministries – local schools and working with the homeless, addicted, those in debt and poverty.
With each school, there is a weekly pattern of assemblies, computer and craft clubs. The church teaches children to tell the Christian story with amazing results, considering these schools are 80 per cent Pakistani-Muslin. Graham reflects on this by saying ‘Other religions care about telling our story and we all recognise the importance of grace and commonality’.
The ministry to those in need locally is built on several projects which the church runs in collaboration with Derby City Mission and Youth with a Mission:
t (50 come each week for food, prayer and Bible stories)
(80-100 people every week come to eat, socialise and address issues)
(started by an ex-homeless person and provides food and advice)
(teaches people how to cook on a budget)
In 2013 Derby City Council effectively shut down provision down for the homeless. This led Ozzy Road to spearhead the Derby Night Shelter project which has operated every winter since. It has 300 volunteers and uses six different churches. The project provides food, shelter and support for its guests. Last winter 274 different people used the shelter and a housing solution was found for them all by the time it closed in Spring. Despite that encouragement, last winter was the first time some had to be turned away, as the shelter was full on some nights.
The effectiveness of this ministry has led the Council to approach them on how they can now best help the way forward.
One story that Graham highlights is ‘Bruce’ who was alcoholic and homeless. ‘There’s no hope and no plan for him’ was the response from the authorities. With careful, long term and patient support his life was turned around. Bruce also found Christ and came back to be baptised three years later. He now volunteers at another night shelter.
Graham is sometimes asked how he and the church can mix children and family work alongside those who are homeless. He reflects that it has always worked well, with clear boundaries and procedures. Many families want their children to see ‘real life’.
Ozzy Road lives out the challenges presented in Matthew 25. ‘How we do this?’ Graham reflects. ‘We never give up’.
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