Reconnect

Thursday, 1 April, 2010

Known and loved by many as a tourist hotspot on the Dorset coast, Poole is also home to missional community Reconnect. The community, which has been meeting in the area since September last year, celebrated its commissioning in a town centre café in March. Revd Paul Bradbury, Pioneer Minister for Poole Town Centre and Hamworthy, and Community Leader of Reconnect, explains more.

Reconnect's intention, our vision, right from the start was very much to see people become Christians from an unchurched background. We are still finding out what happens after that. Reconnect may help to create new communities for these people, or perhaps they will ultimately feed into existing churches, or join us. We are not sure really, but we do know that we are open to what the Spirit is saying, and are working closely with other churches in a bid to do what God wants us to do.

When I became Pioneer Minister in September 2008, the then Bishop of Sherborne, Tim Thornton, conducted the licensing ceremony at St James' Church, Poole Old Town and then on the Quay. We walked from the church in a bit of a rabble down to the seafront where there was an exchange of symbols – I was given a bucket of seeds and a fishing net to represent the Kingdom and  the work I'm doing.

Reconnect - rule of lifeOn 21st March, the Bishop, Dr Graham Kings, came and commissioned us as a community at a café in the town. We had about 70 people there and started off with some children's activities before the bishop led the commissioning and we signed the rule of life – something we had been developing in our meetings since Christmas by looking at Acts and the gospels to find out what it means to be a community of disciples. The rule was signed by all the community and the commissioning was essentially a commitment by us all to seek to live the life expressed in the rule.

Reconnect - BishopWe organise felt making sessions as part of our outreach activity, and we made felt 'stones' on the commissioning day to be included in a prayer cairn. People came up and prayed for Reconnect as they put down one of the stones. The bishop also seemed to enjoy the day, even having his face painted (after the ceremony!)

The vision to gather together a missional community emerged after six months of prayer and listening, and Reconnect came into being in September 2009.

As Pioneer Minister to central Poole, my area includes the town centre and lower Hamworthy. This area is undergoing large amount of development and a huge proportional increase in population. It's a relatively small area, ranging from a small housing estate which is in one of the most deprived wards in England to converted warehouse apartments whose owners have a yacht just off the Quay. Tourism is also a major factor with people coming to work here, usually seasonally, from all over the country.

Reconnect - prayer cairnWe see Reconnect as a shop window to say Church is not just about Sunday mornings, it's about many other things. Our aim for Sundays is to meet in such a way that our energy can be put into making friends with non-Christians in the area and serve the community. One of the most effective ways so far has been to clean the local beach a couple of times! It was an easy thing for us to go and do. The first time we did it we had various people ask us what were we doing, and the second time we had four local residents come and join us to help.

Avenues for mission that we are exploring include workplace ministry, a felt-making group and a grow-your-own project on a small housing estate. As a community we are generally nomadic, quite deliberately so, as that offers a chance for people to reflect on where they are in this journey.  But it soon became clear that people felt they needed a place as a focus, a place to meet that is central to our mission.

Reconnect - Corfe CastleWe have a monthly pattern of meeting one Sunday in a local school, the second Sunday in our homes, third Sunday 'out and about' serving the community and fourth Sunday worshipping at other local churches. We dub this 'Festival' Sunday when Reconnect regulars go to a church somewhere else. We can't provide the experience of a bigger church, worshipping in a larger fellowship, so we say go and enjoy that experience and feed back into Reconnect. We also meet as adults on a Tuesday evening to worship, pray and explore our mission and community values together.

Funding was made available for three years, and I'm very aware how things take time to come to fruition. At the moment, we are really just feeling our way but we remain very committed to laying down firm foundations for a community. We aim to be invitational and participative in everything we get involved in, and work towards living out that rule of life which will provide us with our core values and shape all we do.

Updates to, and learning points from, this story

Tuesday, 7 April, 2015

Pioneer Minister Paul Bradbury gives an update on Reconnect and Space for Life in Poole.

Monday, 6 August, 2012 On Demand clip

Paul Bradbury updates the story of Reconnect in Poole.

Wednesday, 6 June, 2012

Paul Bradbury, describes how the Reconnect, a missional community in Poole, has taken over its venue.