Tomatoes - update Feb10

Monday, 1 February, 2010

Pete Gilbert from the Church of the Martyrs in Leicester tells the story of Tomatoes, engaging with unchurched local families in Leicester.

Duration: 4:59   | Download Download mp3


Introducer: In October 2007, Tomatoes began as an initiative of The Church of the Martyrs in Leicester, serving hot breakfasts on a Saturday morning to the local community as a way of engaging with local families. So we paid a visit to find out how things are going. Project coordinator Peter Gilbert takes up the story.

Pete Gilbert: Tomatoes started about three years ago, it was the brainchild of our curate then, David Cundill, who thought he would try and do Saturday morning breakfasts for students. But when we started we found that quite a lot of people came from the ballet school which runs in the church hall every Saturday and has done so for many many years. So it started with some of the mums coming to that and just dropping in while their children were doing ballet for their half hour sessions and it grew from that really.

Female voice 1: I'm Sarah Bullman, I've been coming Tomatoes here for a few years now and it's just a lovely place to come and, well, talk to people more than anything else and I bring my knitting and we just have a sit there and have a great time, I mean it's nice for the parents as well because they can see where their children are and they can just sit up here, quietly have their breakfast, have a coffee, chat with family and friends and just have a really nice time.

Pete Gilbert: What we're trying to do is to explore what Christianity means in a context for people who have not got any concept of Christianity, of church, or anything like that. We see it as just trying to explore how to be church in this environment and I think that's my definition of how we're seeing ourselves as a fresh expression. This is their church and that's a different way of doing it. It's not the standard thing, it may not be what you're used to or what you think church should be like, but the important thing is are people getting closer to God through this. So that in itself you know just makes it worthwhile.

[Well over the past few months, some of those who are involved in the Tomatoes team have been doing a little bit of a kind of a day in my life, kind of just sharing a couple of minutes…]

Richard Worsfold: My name's Richard Worsfold, I'm the vicar here at the Church of the Martyrs which has sponsored the Tomatoes as a mission project, and my role here at Tomatoes partially has been to develop the thought for the day kind of slot that we have each week as we seek to take people further into faith from where they are when they arrive, which is very often right on the outskirts of not having been in a church before or not connecting to church worship at all. If it's to be a church in its own right then it needs to develop some of the characteristics of being a church and so one of the things we've been thinking about over the past term was what we do about understanding of giving and we've actually moved towards having voluntary donations coming in on a weekly basis, although it's been free up 'til now and we don't expect people to pay but we just invite that, but we've done it in a way that's said well, this is something of what we might do in the longer term in not only paying for our breakfast but also perhaps supporting a mission project, that we as a group, Tomatoes group, might want to adopt as a project. And in doing that we might be establishing one of the hallmarks of being a church, that being supporting others rather than just having things for ourselves.

Female voice 2: I'm Jane and I've been at Martyrs for about 14 years and I do the scrambled egg, and at about half past ten, quarter to eleven, I also then take my pinny off and I then help and go and do the children's activities, because we have a quiet section where we do like a, what we call the talky bit, so we try and keep the children a little bit contained and we just do activities right down by the altar. Then I come back and just help start washing up, because that takes a load of time to wash up, so yeah, that's me.

Richard Worsfold: I think if somebody asked me how to go about starting up a project like this, I'd say well it's important to have a vision when you start, but be aware that that probably won't be what you'll have in even a few months' time. And you have to be willing to give that up, but not to lose having a vision for where it is going, but just allowing perhaps the initial ideas to be modified as the Spirit leads into different people groups for example from whom you expected to be connecting to.

Male voice 2: I saw it advertised and my daughter goes to ballet next door so I thought oh I'll pop in, and it was just a really friendly atmosphere. There's a really nice ambience, really just friendly. It's a time for contemplating and somebody will say a few words and it makes you think. Just a nice environment.

Introducer: Just one of the people visiting Tomatoes, a slowly-emerging fresh expression of church in Leicester.

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