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Story 92 - Sheringham Shed and Priory Patch
Lighthouse Community Church, Norfolk

By Suzie Abramian in conversation with Daniel Ward  09/03/2021
 
Story92 - Pic1“Be courageous, be faithful – what have you got to lose!”

Sheringham, like many seaside towns, has a large retirement population but interestingly contains some of the largest primary and secondary schools in the region. Whilst many young people move away from the area for University and work, those who remain often become employed in the building and trade industry. Daniel Ward, Community Pastor at Lighthouse Church Sheringham knew from his background working in the trades and as a self-employed gardener that many mental health struggles, especially for men, arise upon retirement from such a physical and communal type of work. Observing this, along with the higher-than-average male suicide rate in the area, he began to explore how God might be leading their church to connect with people from these parts of their community who were also notably missing from their congregation.

 
Story90 - Pic2Not only were this demographic missing from their church but, as Daniel comments, they are also unlikely to engage with the main church gatherings, let alone enter the building. Along with others from the church who shared the same vision and passion, Daniel began to pursue what has developed over the last 3 years into the ‘Sheringham Shed,’ with its own more recent offshoot, the Priory Patch, a community garden and smallholding. Inspiration was taken from the Men’s Shed network as well as visits to a farm in Suffolk which seeks to use gardening and farming skills as a form of therapy for those with disabilities and addictions. Although these were not Christian projects, Daniel reflects how those ventures encouraged him to see how they helped people regain their dignity as well as seeing as a believer how God has instructed us to care for creation. Furthermore, he saw that these were also ways of using the same language to connect and communicate with those outside of church. Recalling the slogan of the Men’s Shed network "Men don’t talk face to face, they talk shoulder to shoulder,” Daniel comments that ‘generalisations are generally true,’ which explains why although the Sheringham Shed aims to be inclusive, holding events and groups open to both men and women there will equally be times just for men or just for women.
Lighthouse Church, along with the other people who were keen to support this venture, undertook a significant journey of faith as the provision and guidance for setting up Sheringham Shed came about. Along the way there was the miraculous provision of funding to purchase a worn-down building in the centre of the town, as well as times of discouragement when work was delayed. At one of the low points Daniel describes how their minister called the church to pray and recalls how it felt like, ‘something broke.’ The next day an astonishing offer of building work was made out of the blue from one tradesman in order to complete the project.

Click here to watch the transformation of the building.

Although a few groups were able to meet at the Sheringham Shed in early 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic obviously put a halt to any physical meetings and particularly to running classes requiring demonstrations of potentially dangerous equipment.
However, whilst the workshop side of the Shed is currently on hold until restrictions allow, their other venture called the Priory Patch has been able to go ahead. With a parcel of land effectively given by a member of the church and measuring 60 x 30 metres, there has been an enormous amount of work to do in order to clear the land, not least because of the eco-friendly emphasis behind the vision which dictates avoiding using engine powered machinery!


Click here to watch the beginnings of the Priory Patch work.

Story92 - Pic2Describing some of their experiences through all of this, Daniel says, ‘some things you plan the least turn out best.’ He shares how there have been powerful, unplanned encounters with people in desperate circumstances, sharing their whole life stories and requesting prayer. In these situations, Daniel observes that whilst he and the team passionately believe there is a need for those outside of the church to meet Jesus, he also says, ’they also really need to meet people who are filled with Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit,’ and that sometimes it’s the practical help they need first before they can be introduced to the living Saviour.
Story92 - Pic3

Whilst acknowledging that each context is different, Daniel encourages any church stepping out in faith to do so boldly and within the presence of God saying, ‘be bold, be faithful - what have you got to lose!’ Looking back over their journey so far, he also says that there have been mistakes and times of discouragement, but God is always faithful to bring about his purposes if we continue to seek him through it all.


Photography and Videos by Gareth Gabriel https://garethgabriel.com






 
 
 
 
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Simon Goddard
Story91-100, MA_Podcast
Suzie Abramian
EMBA, Story91-100, MA_Social Action
Michael Shaw
SWBA, Story91-100, MA_Social Action, MA_Evangelism
Timothy Haines
CBA, Story91-100, MA_Church Planting, MA_Evangelism, MA_Social Action
Ruth Ward
SWBA, Story91-100, MA_Pioneering
Ben Lucas
Story91-100, SCBA, MA_Podcast
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