The Terminus Initiative - update

Monday, 15 November, 2010

The Initiative, on the Lowedges estate in Sheffield, was set up in 2002 through a partnership of four local churches – Greenhill Methodist Church, St Peter's CofE, The Michael URC and South Sheffield Evangelical Church. Revd Joy Adams, Methodist minister with responsibility for oversight of the Initiative, explains how things are developing.

Our community café at the bus terminus shops on Lowedges Road offers a safe Christian environment where everyone is welcome and respected. It's a very popular place now. As well as offering light meals and drinks, we also sell good quality second hand clothes and goods; practical help where possible and prayer support when requested. A weekly youth café, on Tuesday evenings, is also now building up relationships with young people in the community.

The Terminus Initiative is a model of the Big Society, without compromising what we believe. We never set ourselves up as a fresh expression of church as such; it has always been a partnership between four very different churches, committed to integrating new Christians and enquirers into those churches.

In this past year we have intentionally promoted the spiritual side of the Initiative – and over the last 12-18months there has been a definite development as we overhear conversations in the café along the lines of, 'this is my church' and 'I don't go to church, I go to the Terminus Café'. We are now exploring what that means for us as an Initiative and how we need to be developing in future.

We have a ministry with asylum seekers and refugees as well as being designated a Healthy Living Centre with the NHS Primary Care Trust, The PCT meets the physical health needs whilst we meet the spiritual. One result of this is our running Essence, a course in spirituality. We publicised it by asking, 'How would you like to improve your spiritual health?' There have been several takers for the course which is running through November and December.

We have both Christians and non-Christians as volunteers and there are signs of a real move among non-Christians to want to know more about why we do what we do. A wonderful 'sideline' to this is that some of our volunteers from the estate, after gaining skills and confidence at the Initiative, have now found work. The Initiative itself has certainly grown. The café is really flourishing and is a vital part of the community; it literally is the Initiative's shop window. At one stage we had an artist-in-residence for six months and she has been fantastic in contributing to a new look for the venue. She also designed a prayer tree and, although we have always had a prayer board for prayer requests, the tree is really popular.

All of the churches involved in this have been very supportive. It has been so important right from the start to work together and the ministers of the churches have been so generous – there has never been any sense of 'this is my patch'. These ministers – with churchmanship ranging from offshoot of house church to Anglo Catholic – regularly met together for prayer long before the Terminus Initiative was set up. They had recognised their differences but kept on praying together and that has been such a blessing. We continue to keep Jesus at the centre of everything and the majority of the events are not on church sites. On seeing what has happened as a result of that, the faith of the various church communities involved has also been built up.

All of this good news happens to coincide with some major financial challenges in the coming year: from April 2011 we have no assurance at all that our current partnership with the Primary Care Trust will continue and, even if it does, what shape that may take. Also, we only have 50% of funding for our Manager post for 2011 so far. Both of these issues will have a major impact on the services we provide for our community.

If we are not careful, external changes – like economic downturn – can negatively affect the way we think which in turn affects our attitude and behaviour. The words of the hymn 'May the mind of Christ my Saviour be in me day by day' is a reminder to keep focusing on God and simply try to keep in step with what He is doing here.

It is hard to believe that we are in our ninth year. When we look back, God has provided incredibly – and that reassures us for the future.

This story is an update to: