Community Matters. Rachel Elliott is Minister for Social Transformation at St James Church. Here she talks about some of the ways the church is trying to help build community locally:
The statistics on loneliness in the UK are horrific. Whilst our deepest need is to feel loved, so many of us feel totally alone with a craving for real community that is far deeper than we realise. It seems that the problem is worse in cities, where there are more people, which seems so ironic!
Nowadays, we can know so much about the lives or celebrities but we don’t necessarily even know who our neighbours are. Many of us live far away from relatives, moving to new locations for a new job. We work long hours, spend a lot of time interacting online, rather than face to face, and life is, well, just very busy. How can we, in Muswell Hill, address the loneliness that all this can create?
Real community can be hard. Daring to be open and share our vulnerabilities, rather than hiding them away; bearing with one another when we’re grumpy or when we make a mistake; fully accepting someone who is very different from us. These are just some of the challenges we all face. Loving others is hard work, and I know I often I want to run away as soon as it feels difficult.
The way Jesus lived on earth shows us what love is. He frequently made a bee-line for those who he could see were excluded, hated and rejected by society because he couldn’t bear it. His example of loving others is deeply challenging and often goes against our natural inclinations. He spent much of his time not being too busy but spending quality time with his friends, relaxing and partying.
As a church we’re trying to build community in lots of different ways. We’re not saying we’re very good at it; in fact, we know we’re often not, but we are committed to it because we believe in community and living life together. We do this at Community Café, Challenge Group, WAVE club, pastorates (weekly/fortnightly small groups that explore and share life together using the Bible), Teatime for the over 60s, Bumps & Babes for mums/mums-to-be, and, of course, when we gather on Sundays.
If you are seeking community that is messy, goes wrong sometimes, but is real, then please come and join us and bring your unique personality, gifts and character. We want you to know you are welcome.
Real community is about building friendship, welcoming everyone, sharing life, supporting one another and learning to love when it’s hard. I have an awful lot to learn about this, but I know that if we can learn to love one another more, even when it hurts, this is one way in which our society will be transformed into something more like what we believe Jesus had in mind from the start.
Please email or call us for more details, check us out online/facebook/twitter, but better still, come and join us and see!
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 020 8883 6277
www.st-james.org.uk; twitter: @StJamesMHill