Lent blog: 15 – LET US DREAM

Published Thu, 04/03/2021 by

Last night I was invited to an online Zoom meeting, finding myself alongside eight members of five other churches in and around Belper.  So long as there are Christians locally with their level of commitment and enthusiasm, there is indeed hope for Belper.  This is also the name of their organisation, for these were the Trustees of Hope for Belper, founded as part of a national ecumenical initiative aspiring to carry out a million acts of kindness in 2008.  Thirteen years later the same positive commitment to show God’s love in tangible ways carries on.  As an interested and admiring observer, they made me very welcome.

In terms of activity, Hope for Belper has four main expressions: The Food & Community Hub, currently based at the Baptist Church; Street Angels; Belper Town Chaplaincy; and The Bless Project, a lunchtime activities project with students at Belper School.  There is information about all these activities at the website:   https://hopeforbelper.com

Several parishioners from Our Lady’s have been involved in various ways with the Food & Community Hub for several years.  Our congregations have been very supportive of gifts of food to the Hub (formerly known as the food bank), at the church door or designated donation points.  Others have helped to support – and still do – Sarah Bradbury’s chaplaincy work with the local homeless, something she spoke about to the Leisure Group in 2019.  One of our parishioners has also given up his Friday nights to being with other volunteers on the streets and estates of Belper in the late hours as a Street Angel, assisting those who are the worse for wear or in need of other assistance.  Still others have supported Hope’s AGMs and other meetings.

It’s all very much in tune with Pope Francis’ agenda for a church reaching out to be alongside ordinary people in relevant and down-to-earth ways; also, with Bishop Patrick’s vision of a church of missionary disciples.  “Let us dream,” says the Pope.

As we look to a future which will in many ways be different to the one before the pandemic, God is offering us the challenge and opportunity to do just that – to dream – and then to act, in harmony with our brothers and sisters of the other churches, from whom we can learn so much.

MICHAEL KIRKHAM