The Ruth Project - update Oct10

Monday, 4 October, 2010

Grace Cauldwell discusses the Ruth Project in South Stanley, County Durham.

Duration: 5:42   | Download Download mp3


Introducer: Now when Grace Cauldwell moved to live and work on an estate in County Durham, in order to help the local Methodist Circuit to become more missional, she had no idea how things would work out, but she was sure something new needed to happen.

Grace Cauldwell: I think the real need for a fresh Christian approach in an area like this, comes from the fact that we already had many attempts at standard traditional church in this area, both Methodism and Anglicanism have tried and failed in the local area with traditional forms of being church over the last half century, and so the real passion was to see people meet Jesus and rather than trying to bring them into our understanding of what church ought to be, which is generally very middle class, involves a lot of sitting and listening and not very much getting involved, it was felt that actually it was important to actually live on an estate and be part of that estate, be part of the life there, learn to be with the people here and then allow them to come to know Jesus and develop a relationship with him and form an indigenous church and that is a relevant way of them worshipping, rather than our very middle class way of worshipping.

[So, what I was thinking was, because the girls keep wanting to do a talent contest, could we do that on Friday and would you two be able to like organise things…]

Four years ago I moved onto the estate and I just moved in and started hanging about. My dog Jasper came with me and we just went about making friends – people talked to him, not me – got involved with local people, got my name known out and about and then started to say what are the needs here, what are people asking for that they're not getting. I had some very good ideas that there was a need for work with children, that wasn't part of the initial plan. There was a need for things to allow families to be together as families in a place where the provision is pubs for dads and houses for everybody else and not a lot of social activities that were family friendly. So finally after three years we started doing Friday Fun Factory, with a specific plan to get parents to be part of that. They gather together to worship God, not through singing of many hymns but through craft, and fun singing – occasionally, through playing games together, we share food together and we share silliness and we share seriousness, we have Bible stories and it's all about how God can be relevant and helpful to them where they're at.

When I first started here there was some feeling that whilst the actual team with the vision felt that it was key to have church in a relevant way to the people here, but others who felt that really the only way that something like this could work would be to bring people in on a Sunday morning and they felt that my role ought to be to be kind enough and nice enough to people where they were at to make them come to church on a Sunday. And it was really important for me to actually say to people, church isn't just an hour on a Sunday, church is about worshipping God together, being in fellowship with each other, learning more about God and spending time listening to God's word in a relevant way to you and in a way that you can understand. And that it doesn't matter when or where that takes place.

[Do you think God helps you, because I think the thing that I really love about you Joe is that everything I've seen about you is that he does and that you're very aware of that.

Male voice 1: Yes, definitely it's happened, you know, through things and stuff.]

Grace Cauldwell: When two or three are gathered, I'm there has been really important for me in trying to share that with other people who may not understand that church isn't just on a Sunday and that what I'm doing will never get people into church on a Sunday morning because it's just not relevant to them. And it has a place, you know Sunday worship is excellent for those of us who are used to it, those of us who understand what we're there for, what's going on. For somebody with no background in the church, that can be a very scary place.

I'm about to move on from South Stanley now and one of my big worries is will it continue, will there be enough funding to keep this going. We've put that in God's hands, we don't know what his plans for this area are. I would hope that those that we've begun to work with who've met Jesus and started a journey with him wouldn't get lost along the wayside. I would pray that things would continue and that people would grow to know Jesus more and better in a way that's relevant and makes sense to them, because I really believe that that's what God wants for this place.

Introducer: Grace Cauldwell looking to the future in South Stanley, County Durham. And you can read the story of Grace's Ruth Project in the story section of our website.

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