Thirst Too

Monday, 10 June, 2013

Thirst meets in St Philip's School, Romsey Town, Cambridge. Sue Butler tells how members of Thirst helped to form a second community in the area, Thirst Too.

As new members of our Thirst community became bolder in sharing their often new-found faith they began reaching out to others they know in the local community of Romsey Town, which is generally the 'town' rather than 'gown' part of Cambridge.

About a year ago, the women at Thirst were discussing how they would like their families and friends to experience what they do - through their relationship with God and each other. We still meet every Friday at school, as well as Tuesdays for prayer and Bible studies, but many of those they were trying to reach wouldn't have been able to make it to St Philip's for Thirst. As a result, we decided to find a suitable time and convenient setting for Thirst Too – a setting where these families and friends would feel comfortable.

For various reasons, the school was not an option as a venue so we approached Romsey Mill, a Christian charity sympathetic to our vision which had sufficient space.

Thirst Too - hatThirst Too now meets there once a month on Saturdays from 5pm to 7pm and whole families are invited. These still tend to be drawn from St Philip's School, and they often bring friends with them as well. So far, we average about 55 people attending.

We have a great team of people who lead with us – although, slowly, those who come along are voluntarily beginning to take ownership of some areas. This is really encouraging. We are also fortunate to have Ridley Hall college close by, and two ordinands and their spouses currently help lead us in this new venture. All leaders from Thirst are involved in setting up and leading along with a couple of other local friends who wanted to be involved in pioneering.

Everyone is expected to bring enough cooked pizza for themselves and any others in their party while we supply drinks. More recently, we have also developed a 'tradition' of buying in chips from the local chippy!

We eat from about 5.15pm in the café area and this is followed by a very short interactive programme which could include film clips, dramas, songs, prayers, talk and a memory Bible verse. That all sounds very organized but there is lots of noise and it is extremely informal; most of what we do is done on a big screen. Some of our videos are from YouTube clips and some are created by a teenager but they always have to be interactive and fun.

Our prayers range from 'shouty out' prayers or 'paper aeroplane prayers' to quieter prayers using stones and written notes to God. The talks are often interactive and are rarely more than three to five minutes in length.

Thirst Too - chipsAfter our prayer time, we announce what's happening next and where it's taking place:

  • the gym usually hosts the football which dads, sons and friends usually run to immediately - others go and watch;
  • there is an art/creative area where we've done seed planting, glass painting and friendship bracelets among many other things;
  • the Veggie Room is the café area which is home to those who like to watch 'VeggieTales' movies, play with toys, colour and glue. There are also newspapers available and a constant supply of hot and cold drinks;
  • upstairs, there's a quiet space with icons, interactive prayer stations and candles where a eucharist is offered for which we follow the Anglican liturgy.

Those who come to Thirst Too say that they love it because it's a place where the whole family is welcome. It's at a convenient time - before X-Factor and after the football results, shopping and housecleaning - and the evening is free if people want to go out afterwards. The older generation is not currently represented there but, otherwise, it attracts all ages.

People also say they like it as it's somewhere to be quiet; in the prayer room for example, whilst the family are all safe elsewhere enjoying their own activities. The dads and boys love to play football and usually we have different games for different ages going on. The young ones like the interaction of being together with their families.

How much 'goes in'? It's often hard to tell: sometimes people are texting, talking and walking around whilst things are going on. It's usually very loud! However, a friend who came along with her young child suggested that a lot more than we realise might be being taken on board. She said it often seems as if her toddler is not listening or engaged with what's going on around him but he then makes comments about things that she and her husband have been talking about. This usually happens when they thought he wasn't paying attention to them. 

My 14-year old can watch a film on TV, listen to music through headphones and do his homework at the same time. How? I think it's the response of a different generation; many are used to screens being on constantly - whether at work or in the home. Some of our families have the TV on from early morning to bedtime and it remains on, even when people visit.

The fact remains that people who have often not had an opportunity in their lives to engage with God have found ways of doing so through our prayer room and all age worship. They definitely see Thirst Too as church, but maybe not as many would know it.

This story is an update to:


I've recently started attending Thirst and Thirst Too and it is the warmth and friendliness that is so special - you don't feel obliged to 'do' or 'say' anything and you can ask as many questions as you want. I've also started going to an Alpha course with other Thirst people.
It is lovely to catch up with friends and feel part of a community...but a community of friends who don't just chit chat but discuss the bigger stuff too. Sue is a big part of creating that sense of community - she uses Facebook and social media to keep in touch with us all and create that connection. She also sends useful links and interesting quotes and snippets to keep us on our toes! I am praying more now because it reminds me that my relationship with Jesus is in the present moment, and isn't something that just happens on a Sunday.

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