service and transformation:
One of our key aims is to be “in the community and for the community”.
God’s in the business of bringing about transformation in individuals and in communities and we want to be part of that work. As part of Jesus’ body here, we want listen properly to our local community and really serve them in the ways they want.
Just after we arrived, our local postmaster and shopkeeper retired so our village no longer had a shop; the village pub also closed and people were feeling keenly the loss of places to gather at the heart of the community. Big residents’ meetings followed. John became the chairman of the local shop project steering group.
After a two-year roller-coaster ride, Witherslack Community Shop opened in September 2008. And it’s fabulous!!
Now, we have a wonderful and welcoming gathering place where people meet, buy their groceries and catch up on all the happenings. We give away tea and coffee and kindness and it’s a joy to volunteer in there. I’ve waited all my life to ‘play shop’ and now I can!
It’s a completely community-owned, staffed and shopped-in enterprise. A fantastic mix of local people poured masses of time and energy into fundraising (up to £120,000 at one point!) and making the project work. Maria now job-shares the management, Sue’s an enthusiastic volunteer and, having seen the shop open and through its first year, John’s handed over the chairmanship to other very capable hands.
The whole adventure is about the people who live here. For many, it’s about a community determined not to lose its vital services and die; for us it’s about being ‘Jesus with skin on’ and doing all we can to meet the needs of the people He loves. In reality, a great local need has been met and a variety of people and groups have been brought together in ways that people said “it’ll never ‘appen”! But it has!