Each of our Eden teams is partnered with a church. A loving family to support them and walk with them as they serve the community. Gav Hicks, team leader of Eden Walsall (West Midlands), shares on the importance of these partnerships…
In Walsall, our partner church is St Peter’s and it’s a great place to be. We often talk of stories of transformation in our work but I have come to realise how impossible this would be in our context without the love and sacrifice of St Peter’s for generations past.
At over 175 years old the church has rich local history. But in the 1980s the congregation was told the church was going to be shut. The doors were to be closed and there would never be a vicar there again. However a faithful few stayed and prayed, and knitted toys to sell to pay the bills and they remained faithful. A few years ago a vicar brought a team from a neighbouring parish to plant into St Peter’s, to work alongside the people there and to help bring hope to the community.
We have the amazing privilege of being able to walk these streets because before we were even born a faithful few were praying for revival and transformation. The older generation of St Peter’s have so much to offer us and so much love to give to young people who find themselves in church for the first time. These older people can engage with them in a way we can’t, often offering the sincere love of a grandparent.
Many churches suffer from people not wanting things to change. It could have been the same at St Peter’s. People could have demanded the traditional service they were used to or even demand the vicar wear robes. They could have seen new people coming in as a threat to their way of worship. However they welcomed them with open arms and have made comments such as, ‘This is what we’ve been praying for’. Transformation happened inside St Peter’s and now that transformation is flowing out the doors to the streets where we are seeing more and more families engage with our activities, come to church for the first time, ask for bibles and make commitments to Jesus. It wouldn’t be the same family without our older generations welcoming them, learning their names and loving them wholeheartedly.
We are so grateful for those who have come before us and prayed faithfully and we are so lucky to be walking on top of the foundations they laid. We’re also really thankful for them letting us play messy games, make lots of noise, sometimes break things (by accident!) and shake up the way we do church. But we know we’re doing it together.
Is God calling you to a new home? Join Eden and be part of a movement of sacrificial Christians who live long-term in deprived communities. Visit joineden.org today to find out more.