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Story 21 - Wendy Ward

Berwick Baptist Church  
 
Berwick Baptist Church, situated on the border between Scotland and England, has recently been exploring the use of the Arts with mental health on their missional adventure which has resulted in the creation of their own Wellbeing Arts Group (WAG).  

As Wendy Ward, group co-ordinator of Berwick BC’s WAG, explains in this video, a large part of this calling was confirmed when some of the church leaders attended the NBA’s Re-Imagine programme in early 2018. And, along with others in the church who had been exploring ideas of Arts related ministries and the issues surrounding mental health, the group began in October 2018. 

 

Wendy describes the group as, ‘strictly not evangelistic' partly due to the conditions of the funding the group received for some of their resources and also because of the vulnerable nature of those who attend, where a more overtly Christian group could actually be a barrier. This has in turn contributed to why the group feels a safe place and how trust has been able to develop.  

The group itself meets once a week and provides a wide variety of art activities which people can either participate in unaided or with some guidance and support. The kind of activities have ranged from sculpting, rug making, felting, painting and  drawing to jewellery making. The diversity of skills required for some of these arts has also provided opportunities to invite in specialists to teach and demonstrate their craft as well.  

With an annual exhibition timed to coincide with world mental health week there is a good focus for displaying all that is created as well as inviting in others, leading to a greater contact and awareness with the local community. 

Looking ahead it is encouraging to hear how the group is able run independently from Wendy at times as her own her work load has changed, affirming how wider ownership has also been taken of this project. This is also reflected in the effect this group has had on the whole church, encouraging many within the church to grow in their understanding of issues surrounding mental health and even open up about their own struggles. 

For those who may be considering a similar venture to this Wendy encourages you to go gently and see how things progress naturally, to put aside concerns about numbers and not to worry if things seem small in the beginning stages. 

 

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