The Gathering - update Nov13 (part of Edinburgh Dreams)

Monday, 18 November, 2013

Lou Davis updates the story of The Gathering, part of Edinburgh Dreams.

Duration: 7:30   | Download Download video (flv) | Download Download video (wmv) | View on YouTube


Lou Davis: I came to Edinburgh as a request from the Methodist Church. I'd signed up for this scheme called VentureFX which could have sent me anywhere in the country and it ended up being Edinburgh, which is amazing. I came from Stockport, fresh from leading a fresh expression of church which was all based around creative arts and running groups based on art and craft and sewing, and things like that. And it would have been very easy to come to Edinburgh and just start right off but there'd been lots of lessons that we learned in Stockport that it would have been foolish not to take on board - but also Edinburgh's a completely different place. It's got a very different feel to it, it's got very different people in it and I just needed to take some time to learn about the city and find out what it was like and what God was calling me to do here.

I did a range of different things. One of the things I did was just random walks around the city and I felt God draw me to different places and point different things out to me and different groups of people as well – I'd go over and talk to them. I started off by doing a number of different things; some of them were one-off events – we did a photo exhibition that involved people from the YMCA where I do some voluntary work, and there's some people I got to know through camera clubs in Edinburgh and we did a fundraising evening, all based on poetry and spoken word.

I think the idea of starting something and then building a community from it is a difficult thing and you never quite know what's the right thing to start. So we've started lots of different things in Edinburgh and some of them have more Christian content than others. Some of them are one-offs; some of them are slightly more longer term; they all have the aim of bringing colour, life and justice to the city. There has to be a range of things because some things work and some things won't and, at this stage, it's about experimenting and trying things out.

The Gathering has been meeting for about a year and it meets in a café in Edinburgh. It meets on a Wednesday evening, a couple of times a month and also, in between those times, there's some social events, some pub nights and we're going walking this weekend, it's different every time. What we're aiming to do is use people's gifts as they offer them to God and to the community. So, sometimes we'll have live music because we've got musicians offering their gifts and sometimes we'll have storytelling; at other times we'll have art and craft, we'll be making visual things. Sometimes there'll be a Communion service, a more recognisable liturgy.

The Gathering is starting to form a community but it's taking a long time and it's a bit more messy than just, 'this is our community'; there are different people dropping in, dropping out, coming for a few weeks, a few months and then leaving. There are people who come to the city for a short time and are part of it and then leave.

Male interviewee 1: We don't know who's going to come along from time to time but we are small and one of the things that is able to happen each time we do meet is good conversation with one another, catching up with one another very often. There's a very informal feel to the evening.

Male interviewee 2: In the world we live in today, change is not inevitability – it is a constant; it's happening every single day. People experience the world, taste the world, smell the world, interact with the world, learn in the world in so many ways and simply offering one formula doesn't fit for all. Jesus is for everyone.

Female interviewee: I do think traditional church can be intimidating sometimes for people that don't normally, aren't normally in that sort of atmosphere so a gathering like this – I think it's more approachable.

Lou Davis: I set up something called Edinburgh Dreams which isn't really a thing; it's just a name under which lots of different things can happen so, under the name of Edinburgh Dreams, we can do creative events, we can do courses, we can do fundraising, we can do theological exploration and lots of things can happen under that umbrella and under that name.

I've always been interested in making things and I've always loved sewing and painting and making cards, and all of those kind of things, and to discover that actually that wasn't just something that was frivolous and a waste of time; that something that I felt God was encouraging me in - and eventually I felt that the church was encouraging me in - because it was something that could help my discipleship, could help other people's discipleship, and could actually help form community around. It's been like a revelation.

Taking people on a journey with God is one of those things that you can never predict; you're never going to be able to say it's going to work in this way, people always surprise you and God will surprise you most of all. I think one of the things that surprised me is how much God has challenged me about my discipleship; in fact I think I'm only really just scratching the surface of what discipleship really is and I think I'm beginning to realise that my course of following Jesus is a journey deeper into God and deeper into myself and that's something that has taken me to places that no courses ever could and what I really long to do is to be able to take other people on that journey as well.

In order for that to happen, a lot of barriers need to be broken down; a lot of hurts that the church has perpetuated, a lot of misconceptions about God, about the church, about the way that we worship, about the way that we pray. Those things need to be broken down within the church as well as in the people that I meet who sometimes are very open to God, and very open to the idea that there's more to life than we see, but can't see a way of exploring that in the church that we know; wouldn't even think of it, it's not even on their radar. For me, the signs of success will be when there are stories of people whose lives have been transformed because of what the church has been visionary enough to do here.

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