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90 second interview 

Becky Coster - Bedfordshire
 Becky Coster
"We long for the whole Church to be meeting
the needs of our whole community."
Who are you and what do you do?
Hi, my name is Becky Coster and I'm the Chair of HOPE in Bedfordshire.  I am also a lower school teacher and volunteer youth and children's work coordinator at my own church.
 
What started HOPE for you?
I went to some large scale missions in London and Manchester and then for HOPE 08 I was really excited to plan something similar in Bedford.  Having grown up locally, I am passionate about sharing God's hope in real and meaningful ways round here.
 
What is your vision for your area?
Bedford is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the country, but it's also surrounded by many small villages and semi-rural locations so it's an incredibly varied county with a wide range of social needs. We have managed to bring a large group of very different churches together to serve. We long to see this grow so that the whole Church can be seen to be meeting the needs of our whole
community.
 
What about local mission delights you?
A couple of years ago we ran a free family funday in the town, working with Urban Saints.  An old school friend later thanked me for doing that for her family.  I know of no other way that this family could have been in contact with a church at that stage.  Many of the projects we are involved with do exactly this; they connect with those without links to church, in fresh ways.
 
What has been going on?
In March, we organised a one-day conference for Children's and Youth workers, bringing expertise and inspiration to local leaders and volunteers. We were also pleased to host Saltmine Theatre Company with their Easter production of Who Moved the Egg?
 
Any advice for future practitioners?
Take time to build foundations and find out what is happening already. Engage support of local churches and praying through vision before rushing on with a project. Find keen activists in each church, people who will champion HOPE. It helps to be aware of barriers that individual churches may have so you can pray these through.  The key, for us, was to remember that this was not for the Church but Church for the people.
 
What’s next for Bedfordshire HOPE?
We are looking to create a sustainable HOPE in Bedfordshire network of more localised hubs.  We believe this will enable many more churches to find new ways of working together to serve and bless their neighbourhoods.
 
We are working on a 'guide to getting married in a Bedfordshire church,' to make available at wedding fayres. Preparing for marriage myself made me realise what a fantastic opportunity it is to serve people at such an important stage in their lives.
 
We just want to continue making a difference. 

Lucy Cooper, 09/06/2011

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