Stories of Hope

Stories of Hope

Real Stories of What Christians Are Doing Together Across Hertfordshire

 

Holy Week Walk – Churches in Welwyn Garden City

Usually on Good Friday, many of the churches in Welwyn Garden City would gather on Good Friday for a worship service around a large cross which is put up in the town centre. It is a wonderful sign of unity and witness in Welwyn Garden City.

This year, churches were forced to be creative, and so designed a Holy Week walk that people could participate in primarily using their phones. Around the town centre we had placed 10 ’stations’, each comprising of a QR code which linked to a video on the  website. Once scanned, participants would be able to hear a passage of scripture read relating to Jesus’ journey to the cross, a short reflection, a prayer and some music. In addition, we had placed 5 ‘resurrection appearances’ in other parts of the town.

Rev. Simon Cragg of Christchurch said he patricianly liked the station at Stanborough Lakes on the edge of town – when you scanned the QR code you were taken to a reflection on John 21, Jesus cooking his disciples’ breakfast by the Lake of Galilee.

Many who took part in the walk described how moving it was, and helped them draw close to God as they thought about all that Jesus went through. Churches in Welwyn Garden City said how lovely it was to receive a text one evening from a couple who had decided to take part as the sun was coming down.

They wrote “Just sitting here contemplating Jesus death on the cross….listening to the Crucifixus…very moving as night falls…This is a very special trail”, they also sent along with the following photo.

 

The Lockdown Nativity 2020 – Bringing Christians Together In Hertfordshire

Bringing a smile to the face of people across Hertfordshire this Christmas is the Lockdown Nativity is a dramatic reading of poem written by Rev. Austin Janes of Grovehill Church, an ecumenical partnership who is also Chair of Churches Together in Hemel Hempstead.

The Lockdown Nativity tells the story of the birth of Jesus as though it was set in 2020 and makes reference to many memorable parts of this past year including zoom bombing and the shortage of toilet rolls.

Austin kindly shared this poem with Doral Hayes, of Churches Together in Hertfordshire who then suggested it be recorded for others to use across the county.  Christians from different churches then came together from churches across Hertfordshire to read the poem and create a video as a resource for the churches as well as bringing some well needed comfort and joy this Christmas.

Representatives from Digswell Village Church, The Community Church Bishops Stortford, New Life Pentecostal Church, Belmont Road Baptist Church and Carey Baptist Church in Hemel Hempstead as well as the University of Hertfordshire ecumenical chaplaincy came together with Rev. Dr David Chapman, Chair of the Essex, Beds and Herts Methodist District and Rt Rev. Michael Beasley, Bishop of Hertford (who is also like Doral a Churches Together in England Trustee) to be part of the project.

The video can be found here The Lockdown Nativity and the text is available here Once upon a lockdown

Havers Community Church in Bishops Stortford were inspired by the play written by Rev.  Austin Janes  and did their own rendition of it for a Christmas Carol Service last. Here is is a link to their version too.

Doral Hayes writes “it was wonderful to bring people together for something fun and creative and everyone was so happy to be involved and to pray together” echoing the words from The Lockdown Nativity “So let’s praise God together even when we cannot touch”.

Churches Together in Hitchin – A Screen in the Square

At Christmas Churches Together in Hitchin usually organise  `Carols in the Market Place’ on a Sunday afternoon before Christmas but that wasn’t possible this year due to COVID restrictions.  The Rector of St Mary’s came up with the screen idea and, with some trepidation as the cost was £1,800.  However the Churches Together in Hitchin Council backed the suggestion and the project  came together. The money was raised through CT Hitchin funds contributions from member church mission funds and donations from individuals.

People in Hitchin Market Place seemed delighted and a Christmas message was proclaimed loud and clear. Anedited link to The Screen in the Square  can be found here.

John Richarson of Churches Together in Hitchin said

“that thanks is to be given to all of those who made this happen – Chris Bunce for the original idea, Jane Robson, Andrew Henton Pusey and Martha Inch who joined Chris and myself on the planning group, the musicians and ministers who contributed the carols and reflections, the school children who sang so beautifully, Dave Holmes of The Hub Church who put it all together, Sam Hallas of Tilehouse Street Baptist who did some later editing, and Sundown Screens who were so professional. I personally felt proud of Churches Together in Hitchin as I stood and watched it in Market Place and I know from comments then and since that it has lifted the spirits at this tough time”.

Another great united initiative which is already raising the question `What do we do next year…..?

Liberty Tea Rooms in Hemel Hempstead


The liberty tea rooms is not only a great place to stop for a drink and snack but also a place where everyone is welcome.  It aims to reach the whole community and build that community where all people can belong, can be treated with love and respect and thrive.

The Liberty Tea rooms developed from a interchurch youth project in the town and continues to bring people together from across the churches working together to strengthen and witness to their communities.  The Liberty Tea Rooms opened its doors in early 2017 and has a great range of homemade food and cakes and provides that feeling of coming home when you walk in, the tea cups and plates give the tea rooms an old world charm that immediately makes you feel cared for. Already won the Decorum Business Heroes Award.

Kerry Ann Cooper manages the project and explains just some of the reasons why the Liberty Tea Rooms is a special business. 

“We do things differently! We operate with cash only and are conveniently located near cash points so you can withdraw cash, we’re always happy to change it into smaller denominations for you.

All the prices you see are suggested minimum donations: This covers the basic cost of food and operation but doesn’t cover all the overheads.  All our staff are volunteers from local churches & the local community: They’re a fantastic team who always endeavour to make your LTR experience the best it can be.

We also operate with a policy of honesty and trust: We leave you to give what you feel your Liberty Tea Rooms experience is worth. Upon leaving, place your order slip into the provided envelope along with your cash donation & put the envelope into the honesty box”.

For more information please visit their website or better still pop in and try some of their homemade cakes.

 New Hope: Preventing Homelessness and Transforming Lives in Watford

New Hope exists to show our deep concern for those and serve individuals who are homeless or vulnerably-housed through the provision of accommodation and opportunities to transform lives in the Watford area.

New Hope (previously known as Watford New Hope Trust) was founded in 1990 by two self-styled ‘ordinary house-wives’, Janet Hosier and Sheila Meaning, who saw the many people sleeping rough around St Mary’s Church in the centre of Watford and felt moved to act.  New Hope now brings together staff and volunteers who worship across Watford to support those affected by homelessness.

Founded upon Christian values, which are at the core of their work, they support people regardless of faith, class, disability, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.

In an atmosphere of unconditional love and compassion New Hope seeks to offer acceptance and respect to all. This includes practical support such as food, shelter, clothing, health care and training as well as building relationships, listening and caring.

Rebecca Palmer, New Hopes Fundraising and Communications Manager says “as a Christian charity, with staff and volunteers drawn from all denominations, we believe that God loves everyone. We seek to see all who come to us given a new hope and the opportunity to build a new life”. 

Find out more about how you can support New Hope in Watford or support people affected by Homelessness in your area by visiting their website.

New Hope Trust, Watford

 

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Chair: Revd David Chapman

Churches Together in Hertfordshire unites in pilgrimage those churches in the area which, acknowledging God’s revelation in Christ, confess the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord according to the Scriptures, and in obedience to God’s will and in the power of the Holy Spirit commit themselves:
To seek a deepening of their communion with Christ and with one another
in the Church, which is his body; and
To fulfil their mission to proclaim the Gospel by common witness and service in the world:

To the glory of one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Facilitator: Doral Hayes

facilitator@ctherts.org.uk