"Welcome and Hospitality Project"
Making a church even more welcoming
A YBA church was awarded a £1,000 Home Mission Project Grant in November 2013 to support its “Welcome and Hospitality Project.”
Hope Baptist Church in Hebden Bridge planned the project to follow the reopening of the church sanctuary after extensive renovations.
Administrator Ann Liston takes up the story: “We used the grant, supplemented by our own funds, to furnish the four corners of the church – welcome, heritage, reflection and children.
“The grant covered the cost of coffee tables, 200 new (and matching) mugs, an exhibition stand and storage and furniture for the children’s area.
“The sanctuary reopened in January 2014, with a service of celebration and re-dedication. Approximately 150 people attended. We had a Community Open Day in February, which was well attended by local people who perhaps would not usually enter the church.
“Since then, the church has been the venue for large local events, including the Hebden Bridge Blues Festival, a national Street Choirs festival and a Hebden Bridge Arts Festival event, ‘An audience with George Monbiot’. (You can see photos of these events on our website www.hope-baptist.org.uk).
“We held our first large evangelical event in the sanctuary – ‘An evening with Paul Jones and Fiona Hendley’. This drew more than 120 guests, from the local area and farther afield. Paul and Fiona took away individual requests for prayer and these have now been passed back to the church.
“Our own largest event so far has been the Tour de France. In early discussions with Hebden Royd Council and other community groups, we were asked to consider opening the church on the day of the race to offer ‘tea and toilets’.
“This was a real challenge given the composition of our church membership and travel difficulties. Our members rose to the challenge and opened the sanctuary on both days, providing everything from bacon butties to home-made cake. We gave away, in the church and in the street, small wooden doves stamped with the church website address. Each evening, we held a Taize service. We estimate that we welcomed between 200 and 300 people over the two days.
“On a smaller scale, we open the church on Wednesday and Thursday lunchtime as a place of quiet and reflection. If we are using the building even for cleaning, we leave the front doors open for visitors. We have a sign outside which reads simply ‘Chapel open’.
“A mix of people will come into the church - some are visitors exploring local history, some are local people curious to see the renovations, others sit quietly or light a candle. Whenever possible, we have someone in the church to greet visitors but many are content to spend time by themselves.
“So why was the grant important? The money enabled us to furnish the corners of our newly-decorated sanctuary in a professional way.