CW75: Fresh air, fields and friendship

‘A trip to Sutton-under-Brailes is always a good one! Being in the open fields and fresh air is amazing and very different to Coventry.’

St Catherine’s Stoke Aldermoor is in an urban priority area of Coventry. The church was planted on the Aldermoor estate about seventy years ago and has recently moved from an old redundant church to temporary buildings on a piece of land in the centre of the estate. The congregation is a mix of all ages. In addition to bible and prayer groups the building is used daily for a variety of activities including the foodbank, cooking club, youth activities, parent and toddler groups, a weekly welcoming group for anyone who feels isolated. It is a very welcoming church, full of friendship and love.

CW75: Going through the gate

HMP Lowdham Grange is a modern category B prison built on the site of a mid-20th century borstal for boys. Positioned at the top of a hill, its brick and concrete outer gate is rather imposing, the only entrance within the high walls. The prison is home to 900 long-term inmates, contained by the keys and security systems which keep prisoners inside and prevent the outside world from gaining access. 300 prison staff bring the total population to well over one thousand.

In stark contrast, for over 900 years St Mary’s Church has stood at the bottom of the same hill in a dell with a stream running through. Its grounds are demarcated by hedges and fences with a wooden gate for access. At one time the church door would have been open during the day for those who wished to come in and pray.

CW75: Growing a rural church

For years, Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre CEO Jerry Marshall has been enthusing about our resource Equipping for Rural Mission but had never actually done it. Then an opportunity arose to work through it with his village church, stimulating a fresh initiative based on hospitality and welcome.

CW75: Hospitality away from home: Reflections on the Jungle

For eighteen months I made weekly visits to the Calais jungle. Home to ten thousand people on the move, the camp covered a couple of acres of wind-blasted wasteland at the back of the cement works by Calais’ harbour.

The camp was not an official response to the so-called migrant crisis. Rather it grew over many months as people who had been moved on from other parts of the city arrived and settled. It started as a collection of tents and became a community of wooden huts with cafes, shops and other businesses springing up to meet the needs of the residents that couldn’t be satisfied by the humanitarian efforts of a ragbag army of mainly British volunteers. I went because I sensed God calling me to go and offer the welcome of the gospel to people displaced by war and persecution. Yet on arrival I found welcome from some of the poorest, least settled people on the planet and I found myself asking God afresh, ‘what are you saying to me?’

CW75: Mystery Worshippers and a Ministry of Welcome

The Ship of Fools website ( has an interesting section entitled ‘Mystery Worshipper’. The premise: a brave soul ventures into a service at a church they have never visited before and reports on what it is like. The anonymous mystery worshippers have to answer questions about if and how they were welcomed to the service as a newcomer, what the experience of attending church was like, what happened afterwards and, crucially, whether they would consider going back again! All kinds of churches are reviewed from many different denominations with a huge range of styles of worship and size of congregation.

CW75: Everybody Welcome!

The concept of hospitality has changed down the centuries. For most of us today it conjures up shared meals with friends or the ‘hospitality industry’, hotels and restaurants – places where people ‘buy hospitality’. This latter picture is perhaps as far as you can get from the original meaning of hospitality. Hospitality is about our relationship with God and calls us to welcome and care for ‘those who are strangers, enemies, or distressed, without regard for reciprocation’.

CW75: A day out in the countryside

People and the DALES is an award-winning outreach project delivered by local charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) which enables people from disadvantaged backgrounds to visit the Yorkshire Dales for health and well-being. One group leader working with refugees and asylum seekers in Blackburn and Darwen said:

‘Doctors should prescribe a dose of the countryside instead of anti-depressants, as being in the great outdoors is so good for people.’

CW75 Online Exclusive: The Rural Tradition

My father-in-law, an Ulsterman, was an enthusiast collector of books by AG Street. His collection of Street’s books now sits on my book shelves, and adds a bit of variety to the bible commentaries. AG Street was a Wiltshire born farmer who lived through the years of the depression in the 1930s, and found that he was able to supplement his meagre income by turning his hand to writing, and later broadcasting.

CW75 Online Exclusive: Church as guest

What if the church were to see itself as a guest rather than a host?

CW75 Online Exclusive: Far too welcoming

This document was passed to the editor by WikiChurchLeaks. Given the interest in fake news, we decided to throw caution to the wind and publish…