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Home Ministry M4M (Ministry for Mission) Blogspot Phil Bromily Setting Up a Rural Fresh Expression

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Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Setting Up a Rural Fresh Expression

by handrew last modified 11 Jan, 2017 10:01 AM

Phil Bromily puts on cutting edge cream teas!

In 2007, the Conversations within the PCC at Compton Bassett had culminated in a brave and slightly risky step of faith into unknown territory. We knew that if we wanted to get more than the faithful few on a Sunday morning, we’d have to try something new. It involved sacrificing one Sunday morning a month in Church and replacing it with something in the Village Hall instead.

The venue was an easy decision to make. The Village Hall is fully accessible, flexible and comfortable. It was key, because Compton Bassett is a longish village, a linear settlement, with the church at one end and the Village Hall very much at the centre. In fact, there is a pocket of social housing immediately outside its front door. Don’t get me wrong, the Church building is a gorgeous, grade 1 listed, sitting within the estate of the singer Robbie Williams, and we all love it, but it’s on a hill, and pretty inaccessible at the best of times.

But what would we do? Fresh Expressions are cool and cutting edge. They are designed to be up to date, contextual and breathe new life into the church. So then PCC, I asked: “What does Compton Bassett need?” The answer came back, without a community audit or a questionnaire, because the answer was obvious. “We need to get to know each other, for new comers to get to know folk that have been here all their lives.” Great I thought, a get together… so “what do we like to do in Compton Bassett?” Everyone agreed, “our village likes Cream teas”. I have to confess, any thought I had of cool, edgy, missiological ideas went out of the window at that point. But the answer was absolutely right. It was right because it was contextual and authentic. A monthly, afternoon Cream Tea was Compton Bassett’s Fresh Expression.

4 p.m. seemed to suit most people and a small organising group, including our LLM, named it “Tea 4 All”. It is “café style” in setting, but has changed and evolved over the years. It is now entirely Lay-led and hosts regular puppet shows, Thought for the day slot and even a moment for prayer at the end of the hour. People gather around tea, sandwiches, cake and scones and our attendance is around 25-30 people a month. Not bad for a village of around 200! Relationships have blossomed, possibly because were eating and drinking together and any perceived separation between the Village and Church has slowly ebbed away. We are genuinely all-age and inclusive of all, particularly those with disabilities.

Isn’t amazing what can happen, if you give it a try and take a risk?

Rev Philip Bromiley (Rector of The Oldbury Benefice and Associate of Fresh Expressions)


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  • Setting Up a Rural Fresh Expression
    11 January 2017

    Phil Bromily puts on cutting edge cream teas!

  • Phil Bromily
    13 September 2016

    Starting a rural fresh expression...what's your context? Phil Bromily, rector of the Oldbury Benefice as Fresh Expression Associate, takes a look at the mixed economy in a rural setting.