A city centre listed building and a relatively small congregation is often the cause for concern and discouragement however as Rev Margaret Doughty says "it's all happening" at Central Methodist Church in Lincoln and she is both excited and optimistic about the future.
Central may not have a huge congregation but it does have space and has recently begun to share this space with a new Message Community Grocery run by Alive Church. Using half of the main hall and the parlour, the grocery is open five days a week. Shoppers pay £5 to become a member giving access to two shops per week for £3 each. The shelves are stocked with donated surplus stock from supermarkets and local suppliers. See https://communitygrocery.org.uk/ for details. Some of the volunteers are from the church and circuit.
The open doors of the Community Grocery have brought other opportunities for Central. On Thursdays a "New to You" shop now operates in the other half of the hall and a craft group has restarted following a pause during the pandemic. A Food Bank has been run by the church from the premises for several years now. A court yard garden at the back of the building has been opened with flower tubs, tables and chairs creating an extra space from which to welcome people. "It's all about the community" said Margaret who is also building up relationships again with the two local primary schools and through the City Council Sincil Bank Community Hub.
Margaret is convinced that the mission field is on their door step. The area is diverse with the traditional high street residents now joined by new people from many different countries. There are areas of deprivation with the associated problems and challenges. Margaret is challenging the church to pray to seek how God might want to work through them to share their faith as they meet all the new people.
The Church is also hosting a Christmas Tree festival for the community involving local groups in the Sincil Bank area. Last year there were 36 different trees. They are also the local collection point for shoe boxes for the Link to Hope charity.
The award of a Historic England Covid-19 Emergency Response grant of £25,000 early in 2021 was very gratefully received. Along with money from the church and circuit this has enabled the repair and maintenance of roofs, rainwater goods, repointing of brick work and redecoration of external joinery which all help to keep the building in good condition so it can remain a useful community asset.
These are exciting times but Margaret is realistic about the challenges too. Amongst other things sharing the building has resulted in a few teething problems and maintenance of the building brings its ongoing challenges.
Let's pray that Central Methodist Church will continue to be a source of hope, faith and love for the years to come.
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