It coming along nicely!! The church is located at Barking Riverside. It seems incredible that we, as in the C of E and the Methodists, have been working towards this for the last seven years and 'here it is'. For me it certainly has been a journey in so many ways - spiritually, mentally, physically but more so because I have represented the three denominations at the various planning, designing and site meetings. I have studied the 'plans' in so much detail but then to see it 'alive' is just a feeling I cannot describe.
My purpose for being at the Church today was for the delivery of 100 chairs and one Communion Table, which was stored safely away in the school as the Church is not finished yet. The Church and School is just so bright, colourful, cheery and airy and there is such a calming atmosphere already - even though there were workmen everywhere. Maybe that's because the 'then' Project Manager brought out in the land rover to this location, before anything was built, and said to me 'Judith you are now sitting (we were still in the land rover) where you're pulpit will be in a years time' - that, in itself will be a moment I shall never forget and it gave me the opportunity to say a prayer for the whole development and future community.
The highlight for me is to see the Cross finally up and looking very prominent as it faces the new houses/community. The Cross is very simple in design but I have spent time with the designer highlighting what we wanted, then had to approve the design, material, location - it also had to go to for planning permission!! At night it can be illuminated (I have control of the switch in the vestry/office!!) The two rooms next to the Church are the staff room (top floor) and P.E. room (downstairs). The P.E. room has a partition wall, which we can open (with school's permission) and extend the area of the Church.
Rivergate Church is housed within a complex 'The Rivergate Centre', which compromises of a Primary school, restaurant, Church and community facilities. The C of E won the bid for the school for which I am now a Governor. It has been my privilege to be involved in the setting up of the school, the interviewing and selection process. Nigel and I attended a barbecue and the home of the New Headteacher and we were delighted to meet all the new teachers, teachers assistants, office staff in such a happy and relax manner.
After the chairs and table had been safely stored away - I popped into the school and received a guided tour from Headteacher, then had lunch with the some of the staff in their new staff room. This I find the most valuable time (in the staff room) as conversation soon turned to the graffiti that is already appearing on the new paths and how disappointed they were to see it; however, this reinforced for them the importance for them to engage with the existing community as well as the community which will be moving in shortly. Conversation then turned to the Church and they asked me what we would be doing in there i.e. services etc. I explained that for the first year we would primarily be a 'House Of Prayer' and anyone could come in and 'just' pray by using the resources available and that we would be mirroring the school ethos of creativty and music and so, we too, would be encouaging people/children to be creative in prayer by art, music, dance and even graffitti. I assured them that they would be welcome at any time of the day to pop in for prayer or to be prayed for. Our concept for the first year was not impose services etc upon the community but to welcome their thoughts as to how they wanted to do Church. I also explained that there would eventually be three ministers in the place of worship and that we would be Chaplains to different areas of the school - this meant that they would see us regularly popping into their classrooms/staff room. One of the teachers said to me later 'I have worked in a few church school and I've always found the Chaplains to be the best aspect of the school' - how reassuring but what a challenge too :))
The furture looks bright, exciting and rewarding; however, there are a few hurdles that we have to overcome, which I can't write about here but Krystyna (Methodist partner) and I have a meeting tomorrow at 11am with one particular person at the Barking Riverside Office, for which (if you are reading this) we would value your thoughts and prayers.
However, as I was writing this post the postman knocked at the door with a parcel and it contained the above pillow. It came from a person I haven't seen for a few years but she had remembered that Nigel & I have just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. Also there was a card with the Bible verse from Deuteronomy 33:27
"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms"
Yes, I have 30 years of fond, happy memories to look back upon but it was also a reminder this morning that I also have many, many years of memories where God has been so good and answered prayer (not always in the way I had envisaged) but He has been, is, and will continue to be faithful to those who follow Him obediently.