Interacting with a wider community

Our local group in Sheffield report on their annual Pilgrimage event.

Our annual Pilgrimage took place on Saturday 10 October, when we were joined by 44 pilgrims at our opening service at St James Church Norton.

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We walked from the church just a mile, crossing the busy Sheffield outer ring road, and the inequality in our city was evident. We moved from an affluent neighbourhood where the average life expectancy is 82 years onto the estates on the south side of the city where average life expectancy is 76 years. But rather than meeting despondency we witnessed churches working positively with their communities and heard talks about a variety of community projects.

Sheffield Pilgrimage 2015 1At Meadowhead Christian Fellowship we were informed about the work of the church there, including their involvement in keeping the local library open. We heard that

“Church is about an interaction with a wider community.”

We visited the Michael church that hosts the Grace Food Bank (one of 16 food banks in the city) where we received a presentation about the food bank and the work they do to help people, particularly those suffering benefit delays. The food bank does more than just hand out food; realising that some people receiving food do not know how to cook it, they organise cooking classes and afterwards all sit down to enjoy a meal together.

Sheffield Pilgrimage 2015 2At the Terminus project, supported by four churches in the area, we were told about the importance of social capital. The project is based around a café where local people can meet and conversations take place that then can lead to actions. The café is also a hub where people can find out what is happening in their community, and there are links to social activities, training and health care.

Our lunch stop was at St Peter’s Greenhill, where we were joined by the local MP Louise Hague who is very aware of the issues in the area and the work being done by local churches. She spoke about the complexity of the benefit system and about how human stories alongside statistics can help change hearts and minds, and encouraged us to campaign. We also heard from David Markay about the workplace chaplaincy work being undertaken in Dronfield just across the border in Derbyshire.

Comments from pilgrims included:

“The walk exposes us to so much that we otherwise would not be aware of.”

“The work of the churches should much more known about”

“There is so much good being done in our communities”

“I knew of these places but not the breadth of work being undertaken in them”

And once again the question was asked where we are going next year.

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