A hub for the community - Englefield
“My heart’s desire is to put Church in a different format – relating Jesus to simple things like movie nights,” says Linda Ashford, Centre Manager.
The 25th of September has come and gone, bringing with it the arrival of a brand new Community Centre in Englefield. The Centre is reportedly at the heart of the village, and was refurbished from the recent Methodist Church. Linda Ashford – the Centre Manager of this operation, stated that their Church felt they needed to make a difference in the community and the Centre ‘certainly has achieved this’.
In 2002 the congregation of Englefield Green Methodist Church relocated to St Jude’s Anglican Church, so the two denominations could worship together. This united Church decided that they wanted to do something of importance within their village.
The need for some place where people could gather informally was highlighted a year before this move, when Englefield was rated as the second most socially deprived village in Surrey. Following this, the only day centre that had resided in Englefield was closed down in 2007. This meant there was virtually no place where the community could meet – a sign for the congregation of St Jude’s United Church that something fresh and new was required. The obvious choice for this project was a new community centre.
Jesus said: ‘the spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.’ John Wesley – the founder of Methodism, said: ‘Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.
And now the Methodist Church in Englefield is following these two examples. They say: ‘there is a lot of deprivation in Englefield and we desire to provide a place where all people can belong’.
With God’s direction they have succeeded in creating a home for the old and the young, the lonely and the social, the rich and the poor. Jesus came for everybody, and the Methodist Church are displaying this. ‘Everyone who comes in loves it’ says Linda. ‘It still retains its old character with a warm, welcoming feel.’
The community centre houses a wet room for homeless people to take a shower in. It also provides trained counsellors concerning debt and family problems, and a new employment and training advice programme called: ‘Set yourself free’. There is a ‘Rendezvous’ café there that is open every week day from 9am-4pm, and the centre is also available to be booked for various clubs throughout the week.
This Community Centre is the perfect example of what HOPE stands for. With volunteers from the Methodist, Anglican, and Evangelical church in the area, as well as Non-Christians, they are definitely working together to make a difference in Englefield. They are demonstrating Jesus’ love in a practical way – in word and deed, and really have created a ‘hub for the community’. When asked whether any of this could have happened without the Church, Linda responded: ‘No. Not without the vision of a very small Methodist church willing to give up their building and their time to help others.’
What an example to all of us! One small Church, joining with others in the area, has changed the lives of many. Their selfless sacrifice demonstrates Jesus’ love for others perfectly, and this is exactly what we too should be doing. Jesus said: ‘Come, follow me!’ and the fishermen dropped their nets and did exactly that. We need to do this too.
We’ve seen here that churches coming together and giving everything over to God can make a huge impact in many people’s lives. Why don’t we do the same?