Stories of Growing Good

Rob is a member of St Andrew's Church in Clevedon near Bristol. He shares his reflections with us on how, after the difficulties of staying connected during the pandemic, the Growing Good Toolkit had led to new connections with the community and new initiatives.

'Wrapping our arms around our community.'

Rob attended one of the workshops that Growing Good had run online and this prompted him to consider running the course with his church home group. He reflected on the difficulties of staying connected during the pandemic and the struggles homegroups had felt when members had sadly passed and things felt fragmented. The flexibility of Growing Good was a real asset, allowing group members to watch videos at home, have printed material to hand and then come together to discuss with resources which they could access again later. He reflects on the experience ‘this sort of kick started us in thinking about it, where are the real priorities? How are we getting on? What should we do next?’. Rob shares the encouragement the group had felt through the course as it built momentum behind paused projects ‘Growing Good has helped us sort of think again, you know, let's try the cafe idea’.

Rob noted the depth of their Growing Good discussions which inspired a group member to consider ways to engage new volunteers. Looking at the assets St Andrew’s already has ‘she encouraged the lady who runs the dance group, to have a couple of sessions, where some of her regulars came and performed, but visitors were able to join in and have a go, it was good fun’. Rob identifies the stages they had with Growing Good from local context, to small actions to then journeying alongside people. ‘If I'm honest, some of the willing people are tired but this has helped us to sort of rethink and try some new things. For our home group this meant sending Easter cards to local businesses, which is only a tiny thing. On a bigger scale, the Platinum Jubilee Fair included people from the community who hadn't helped before and was followed by a lovely Pentecost service a couple weeks ago. I felt as if it was like St. Andrews was having a sort of injection of positives’.

Sharing how this energy and momentum was channelled by the congregation Rob shares ‘Jesus has got to be at the center of it all he’s the vine’. The potential initiatives for Rob and his group continued, the space created to reflect highlighted a previous parish newsletter with prayer requests as a resource to reinstate, particularly at a time of crisis ‘if you've got any prayer concerns, you know, we'd love to hear them, some people wanted to revive the printed sheet communication and talked about this as wrapping their arms around the community’. Rob reflected that things have been hard over the last few years but there was potential to restore relationships ‘there was quite a bit of hurting, people who'd lost loved ones during the, during the lockdown, and people who not come back and felt as if their services weren't needed anymore, which is the opposite… we thought that we should have a some sort of healing service and Growing Good gave us the context to bring that to the surface’.