Fresh expressions make strategic sense: The Terminus Café

Monday, 16 November, 2009

This story illustrates the principles of Fresh expressions make strategic sense in the Guide.

The Terminus CaféIn 2000, a Methodist church on an estate in Sheffield went on to the streets with a questionnaire asking their neighbours what mattered to them and what the church could do to help.

The majority of people didn't recognise that the church could play a role and were surprised at the question,

recalls Joy Adams, a Methodist minister on the Low Edges estate.

The church discovered that the most pressing local needs were litter picking, a drop-in centre for the elderly and youth activities. It also realised that any response would need to come from all the local churches and so it formed an ecumenical prayer group.

At the same time, local shopkeepers were keen to lease their premises to the churches for community ventures. Recognising an opportunity, the churches set up The Terminus Café.

From the start we worked in partnership with the different agencies on the estate,

says Joy.

We said right at the beginning we are four churches working together to open a safe place and we are motivated by God's love.

'When you are open with people, they're open with you, we've found.'

When you are open with people, they're open with you, we've found.

As part of her training, Joy had been getting to know local families struggling with drug problems. Now with the café open it became

apparent that a charity shop was very necessary on a poor estate,

so a section of the café was made available for this.

The café is self-financing and opens three days a week, plus Tuesday evenings for young people only. Its Christian remit is made clear by a monthly service, 'Worship at the Terminus' at 4.30 on a Thursday afternoon. Bible study groups happen in series of four or five at varying times and venues to suit the differing needs of local residents. About nine people attend each time, not all of them the same on each course.

Café staff open and close the day with prayer, which is visible through the window. In 2004, as a result of witnessing this, visitors began to ask for prayer. A prayer board is now situated in a discreet part of the café and one-to-one prayer is available under strict guidelines.

Joy tells of a young man with special needs who volunteers at the café and regularly attends a Bible study. Having been bullied at school he found consolation in a Christian faith, but became less active as he got older. Visits to the café reawakened his faith.

She also tells of two recovering alcoholics who have both become Christians through attending the café, but still struggle with their addictions. One of them has described the café as 'somewhere you can go no matter how bad you feel and always be accepted'.

God is always reminding us of the word 'unconditional',

says Joy.

This is a learning point from: