The Stowe, Wichelstowe are one of our Home Mission supported churches who seek to live as a values-based community.
These values are what The Stowe call their ‘DNA’ to which they covenant annually. Core to the DNA are the values of; ‘laying down our lives’ and ‘being an unconditional blessing.’ Along with these, lockdown has raised the significance of two others, ‘simply being friends’ and being ‘geographically focused.’ Adapting to Lockdown has for The Stowe been about asking what it means to live these values in the new context.
Owen Green, one of The Stowe’s ministers, comments that in lockdown the people of Wichelstowe have developed an even deeper sense of appreciation of the value and importance of their locality and community. Owen and his colleague Ali Boulton each have a crate outside their front door into which neighbours in the community regularly donate food, which will later appear in food hampers distributed by Owen and Ali to families in the community as an expression of friendship and love. This is a wonderful example of deep community – maybe even ‘communion’ among neighbours. Owen says, he’s reminded of the words of the apostle Paul as he delivers these food hampers – ‘what I’ve received from the Lord, I pass on to you’.
Lockdown has been a catalyst to creativity for our friends at The Stowe. Owen, who runs the weekly Pub Quiz, has taken the quiz online (check it out on Facebook)! In the early days of lockdown Ali started an online Bible Story for children on Wednesdays mornings (on Zoom). She reads a Bible story and parents (people of faith/ no faith/ different faiths) and their children listen together and sing songs. The toddler group Little Stars, also meet via Zoom and continue their friendships in spite of the restrictions that we all currently face.
The Christian community that is The Stowe have found that people seem to be asking different questions in lockdown than they did before. Not only this, but there are new opportunities to pray appropriately with people, who previously may not have been so keen.
It’s usual for the Stowe in more normal times as they gather each Sunday to ask the questions, ‘Where do you smile?’ and ‘Where do you see God?’. During this challenging time, they’ve added a further question, ‘Where has it been difficult to see God this week’?
These might be helpful questions for each of us to ask ourselves as we journey together, not knowing the future, but knowing and serving the God who does.
Once again, let me say thank you. Because it’s your regular and generous praying and giving to Home Mission churches and communities such as The Stowe and the grace and goodness of a faithful God that make all of the above possible. Thank you too, for passing on to others what you have received from the Lord.