Thursday, 28 November 2013

Partners in Mission - Gunton Baptist Church

Gunton Baptist Church is a small church of around 36 members. We are the most easterly Baptist church in the country, situated just inland of the East Anglian coast, in Gunton, North Lowestoft. Gunton is an area that has been identified as having many and varied needs. It is the fourth most deprived ward in Suffolk, and within the top 12% most deprived wards in the country.

Even though we are small, we have a huge heart to reach out into the community-and over the last 12 months we have seen the church grow both numerically and spiritually baptising 8 people into membership in the last year alone.

As the church has grown and developed we have had to restructure our week-we now have 3 weekly
home groups, one weekly youth bible study group, and we are hosting ‘The Y Course’ in partnership with the local Anglican Church. The church doors are open most days of the week, and there is always a mug of tea and a chat waiting for anyone who drops in, and plenty of people do -particularly now we have become a partner in the local food bank. Our Friday drop-ins have become bustling busy mornings where the kettle is always on, andthere is food available for the most vulnerable and needy in our community. It has been our joy to see more and more local people, with no previous attachment to the church, join us on Friday mornings to volunteer -thus helping to build bridges between the church and the community.   As well as our regular outreach programme of events such as our regular ‘Cheeky Monkeys’ baby and toddler group, chair based keep fit, short mat bowls & board games afternoons, our monthly lunch club, Friday drop-in, shower and kitchen facilities, and community larder, this year has seen us take some bigger steps into the community. Building on the success of last year, in July 2013 we opened our doors and cooked a barbecue on the grounds at the front –  we put tables and chairs out and served free burgers, hot dogs, tea and coffee to anyone who was passing. This was a wonderful day, the church band played in the foyer, the church turned out to peel onions and cook burgers and to serve people – and the community turned up in their droves! Several hours and 300 burgers and hot dogs later saw us ehausted but very happy having had the opportunity to meet the community and serve them – we were able to pray with people, and several people have begun coming to the other church activities, and some to our Sunday Services following this event.

Over the course of the year, we set out to follow the vision that God had given us of developing a
community cafe. The big vision is to have an extension built onto the side of the church making better use of the space linking the church to the offices and halls and providing disabled access throughout the whole building. We have received planning permission and fund raising is in full swing, I recently did a parachute jump to raise much needed funds for this exciting project! In preparation for the building extension, we have refurbished one of the front rooms of the Church, this has become a valuable resource from which we launched our ‘Hub’ Community Cafe in September 2013. This room is also used to host outreach groups such as The Y Course.

As you can see, Gunton Baptist Church is alive and thriving and doing the work of the Lord in our community. It is a very lively, very exciting place to be, this being reflected in the growth of attendance at all our weekly activities, and particularly in our Sunday services. 

Thank you for your partnership in mission as your Home Mission giving has enabled this to happen.

This is part of a series called Partners in Mission from the EBA