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'A collection of crumbs, gathered up from the under the table of life’s experiences'

Gathering up the Crumbs is a new collection of prayers, liturgies, poems and reflections. Written by women in accredited Baptist ministry, it's for everyone (lay and ordained) who appreciates resources upon which to draw for reflection and prayer.

Here's an interview with Catriona Gorton, a member of the Crumbs editorial team and minister of Hillhead Baptist Church in Glasgow 

Gathering up the CrumbsHow did Gathering up the Crumbs come about?

The idea began one day as I sat in my office, and it struck me that I had almost 20 years’ worth of services saved onto my computer – that’s a lot of prayers, reflections and liturgies! Was there something useful that could be done with them?  Realising that other people would have similarly eclectic collections of worship material, I found myself wondering if there was any mileage in collaborating with others to draw some of these together and share them.  This arose close to the centenary of BUGB beginning to ordain and accredit women as ministers (and 20 years in Scotland, where I am now based), so might there be interest in something that could both celebrate this milestone and be of value more widely?

Tentatively, I posted a message on social media (a private group of more than 250 Baptist women in ministry in the UK) and was overwhelmed by the positive response – offers of written material and art work, people with skills in editing and proof-reading, all of whom wanted to be part of this, if only we could make happen!

So, another tentative contact was made, this time to a long-standing friend in ministry, the Revd Stephen Keyworth who was, at the time, head of Faith and Society. Once again, the response was positive – Baptists Together would sponsor the production of a book of around 200 pages. The rest, as they say is history, and the final book is actually just over 300 pages and the print run is 1000 copies! The Faith and Society Team has been incredibly gracious and supportive all the way through this process, we could not have done it without them.

How would you describe it?

‘Crumbs’ is a wonderful, grass-roots, collection of original worship material, art, poems, reflections and prayers created by women in accredited Baptist ministry in BUGB, BUS and BUW.  It reflects the diversity in which we, as women in ministry, delight, so a range of theological understandings, spirituality and personality types may be discovered… At one extreme there are playful prayer activities and amusing stories, at the other there are profoundly moving responses to painful life events, and, uniquely we believe, liturgies to mark endings in the life of a church community.

Whilst it is freshly baked, it’s not a perfect loaf waiting to be cut into neat slices, it is a collection of crumbs, gathered up from the under the table of life’s experiences. 

Why the title?

Mark’s gospel records the shocking account of a Syro-Phonenician woman who, in desperation, came to Jesus seeking healing for her daughter who was ill.  Jesus dismissed her as a ‘dog’ – wrong race, wrong religion, possibly even wrong gender. I have always been somewhat in awe of her response, which seems to have changed Jesus’ attitude (for those who like deep theology – she challenged the Son of God, who had been far from gracious, and who then changed his mind… mind-blowing!).  She, like many other women whose stories of faith and tenacity are told in the scriptures, are a huge inspiration and encouragement for women seeking to exercise ministry in Baptist churches today.

The image of crumbs gathered up from under the table is beautiful and tentative… you have to stoop down, you have to carefully pick them out of the dust and collect them together; only then you can taste the bread that has been dropped or discarded.

By adopting an editorial policy of inclusion, what we have is, as one of the editors described it, a ‘pot pourri’ in which different styles and emphases sit side by side. Importantly, everything in the book emerges from the lived experiences of the contributors, including personal loss and disappointment as well as joy and delight. Even as we worked on the book, the editorial team (the ‘Crumblies’) faced personal challenge and change, from moving to a new church, to bereavement, and even to a church ceiling collapsing!

Who is the new collection for, and how might it be used?

This is a book for everyone – women and men, ordained and non-ordained, those who lead worship on a Sunday and those who appreciate resources upon which to draw for private reflection and prayer. There are liturgies, reflections and prayers that could be used as they are, and there are poems, images and stories that could be used privately or slotted into an act of worship.

We are not precious about our collection – we really hope that people will dip in, discover items that they can use or adapt, and even that will inspire them to create their own ‘crumbs’.

There probably should be a health-warning though – our editors and proof-readers got through a few packets of tissues, shedding healthy tears as they read the material contained in the book. It is this authenticity, the generous, perhaps even kenotic, sharing that makes this book unique – and we hope that, above all, it will comfort, inspire and encourage others.


Gathering up the Crumbs is available from the Baptists Together shop, priced £15.  

On Wednesday 6 May at 1pm a webinar is taking place to introduce Gathering up the Crumbs, featuring some of the women involved in the creation of the book in conversation with Pat Took, our former President. Full details here. 

A number of the book's reflections can be found here.

The full list of the Crumblies editorial team, alphabetically by first names, is: 
  • Catriona Gorton
  • Claire Nicholls 
  • Gale Richards
  • Helen Dare
  • Molly Boot
  • Ruth Gouldbourne 
  • Sarah Bingham


Baptist Times, 30/04/2020
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