The Best Service Ever?
"It was the best service I've ever been to!" was one comment at the final meeting of ‘Living Water’, a week of activities (24-29 June) led by the Bishop of Sherborne, Dr Graham Kings, and the Archdeacons of Dorset and Sherborne, clergy and youthworkers.
During the week, the team worked alongside local people to develop the existing youth and community work of St Mary the Virgin Gillingham, and St Simon and St Jude Milton-on-Stour.
The team began the week with a Sunday evening Jazz Vespers service at Milton and ended by working with Gillingham Foodbank in the foyer of the town's Asda supermarket on Friday morning (29 June).
In between, there were visits to Gillingham secondary school and church primary schools in Milton and Gillingham. The team led collective worship, PSRE lessons, special Olympic values sessions and craft activities after school.
There were visits to the town hall and a meeting with the mayor, Stephen Joyce; pub nights; a cream tea; a BBQ night; generous hospitality in local homes and a visit to the town's country market.
One highlight was the nine-mile walk from St Mary’s to tea near St George's Langham via Milton and Silton. Along the way there was time for prayer and reflection in each church, with points of local interest pointed out by Mr Sam Woodcock, a Churchwarden from Milton.
Another highlight was the service of baptism in the River Stour and confirmation in St Mary's on Thursday evening (28 June).
Dr Kings said, “It’s been a moving week of mission rooted in the community. The local team imaginatively prepared a mixture of activities and services in the schools and parishes. The smiles at the end said it all. We feel that God has drawn us and many others closer to himself - and are very grateful."
The Revd Peter Greenwood, priest-in-charge of Gillingham and Milton-on-Stour, said, "It's been a great week. The visiting team and the local community have worked and walked side by side for a week that will leave a lasting memory of finding Christ together in the community.”
He added, “We called the week Living Water because we wanted to link our locality, which has three rivers - the Stour, the Shreen and the Lodden - with the words of Jesus, 'Out of the believer's heart will flow rivers of living water.' The baptism of two adults in the river Stour did just that - and we've had great fun together throughout."
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