Moot launches the Host Café - Dec12

Monday, 3 December, 2012

Watch Vanessa Elson explaining how the Moot Community has officially opened its Host Café below.

David Meara, the Archdeacon of London, opened the launch event. Church of England priest and presenter of BBC Two's 'Around the World in 80 Faiths', Peter Owen Jones, gave a short address on the theme of Caffeine for the Soul. He looked at 'How do we understand the needs of the soul today?'

He said,

Moot EucharistThe act of living is so much bigger in every dimension than we have realised. Living as a soul is about living a radical alternative life of gift, which means you feel the effects of yourself on others, and love is the greater of that experience of being. You can only communicate life by being love. The healing from status, the poverty of wealth, the loneliness of luxury, the impermanence of our physicality, but it is earthed in giving, and it is earthed in being.

Host is a new venture of the Moot Community, a fresh expression of church within the Church of England. It is the realisation of a long-held dream to enable those outside the church to build trust in it again and those inside the church to grow in the virtues of faith, hope and love, through the practice of hospitality and generosity.

Host café signOpen from Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4pm, Host serves direct-trade coffee, a range of loose leaf teas, pastries and cakes. Through Host, Moot is aiming to restore the St Mary Aldermary church building in Watling Street to its true vocation as a welcoming hub for the local community and a public space where friendships and connections can be developed.

As part of the weekly rhythm of worship and prayer, Host seeks to nurture body, mind and spirit in an expanding programme of arts, meditation, yoga and discussion groups. These currently include daily contemplative prayer, meditation, Serum spirituality discussions and Living the Questions dialogue group. The arts programme will include concerts, open mic performances, poetry and music.

Vanessa Elston discusses the idea behind Moot Community's new Host Café.

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Vanessa Elston: Host opened in September and we are part of Moot. Moot is a community, a Christian community, part of fresh expressions in the city of London and we're based at St Mary Aldermary which is right at the heart of the city, it's just at the junction point of Watling Street and Bow Lane.

People come in and they're like oh, a café in a church and they ask us are you part of the church and can I come in here, can I have a meeting in here, can I come and sit in here. So it's been really a nice positive way just to meet people and just say you're really welcome in this church. And to see the church you know with people sitting in it, it becomes a warm living space.

We're right in the heart of the City of London so we're at the junction point of Bow Lane and Watling Street, just down the road from St Paul's, right outside Merchant House tube, thousands of people walking past here every day. And we're open to the street on two sides, we have notices out saying new café inside church, come in, come and find out a bit more. We're planning to open onto the third street, Watling Street, so we'll be open onto three sides of the street and the point is just to really encourage people to come in and see this beautiful church, it's got a beautiful ceiling, it's a lovely space to be in, to say to people come and own this space with us, and just come and you are as well. You haven't got to change to come into the church, you can come in as you and from there you can buy a coffee, you could just sit at a table, you could sit on a sofa, you could read the paper, if you want to you could move into the area with the pews, you could spend some time just sitting quietly, you might like to pray, you might pick up a leaflet about a meditation or a yoga class, so there's lots of different ways people can then just become aware there's a community at the heart of this church. And we have different points for people to perhaps consider the spiritual side of life.

I guess Host is a bit like our shop front. It's the access point, it's the first point of meeting for people, they're going to come through and they're going to see us, they're going to get a warm welcome, they can buy a drink, but also they can get to know us. I think that's really important today, that people can actually get to know people who are part of the church and just ask us any questions, find out about what we're doing and we can just say yeah, of course you're welcome to come along. Come along if you want to.

Moot I think has a particular vocation to connect with spiritual seekers who might describe themselves as spiritual but not religious. So those who would identify themselves as exploring the spiritual dimension of life but who are not going to automatically walk into a church and take part in a church service. It both reflects our own journey, as a community we've been on a journey into prayer, into deeper forms of prayer that are part of the ancient Christian tradition so silence, meditation, using the body to engage in prayer, learning to connect with who we are, that's all been part of our journey. We also find that connects with people outside who are also searching so it's inviting people to come alongside us and just participate with us wherever they are.

We're in an environment where there's a lot of pressure on people, people are working very long hours and it's difficult I think sometimes to step out of that and to give yourself a bit of space and a bit of time just to be. And I think that's what we want to say is this space represents that, it represents who we are as human beings and actually we can't neglect this side of ourselves. And so wellbeing - things like mindfulness, wellbeing, they're part of the journey into what it means to be human and we neglect it at our peril. And it's also business needs it, we all need it.

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