This year our focus for the WEBA New Churches Initiative is the new missional community at Portishead led by Dan and Beth Doherty. Dan left his job as a full time Baptist Minister to follow a call to build Christian community in this area of rapid population growth on the Somerset coast. Here's an update from Beth, who has found an imaginative way to develop relationships with local families:
Having spent time over the last 6 months visiting many toddler groups here in Portishead I felt that there was a gap in the market so to speak for a different kind of group that would focus more on getting pre school children playing and interacting outdoors, rather than in an indoor setting.
As we live close to Portbury Wharf nature reserve I thought I'd approach Avon Wildlife Trust to ask permission to start a walking group on the site, involving parents and toddlers in both the immediate vicinity and wider town. Having got a brilliant response from local families ‘Portbury Wharf Nature Bugs’ took off back in March with over thirty families booked on to do monthly nature walks and activities during term times. Our first few sessions have all gone really well so far and everyone involved has responded with wonderful feedback.
I feel that as a free provision for families, the group will be an extension of our friendship as church planters to the community and it’s a great way to meet regularly with families in a new context exploring our local surroundings.
It has been widely recognised that spending time outdoors both individually and as a family greatly enhances our sense of wellbeing. I believe it’s really important for young children to develop a sense of wonder, awe and respect for our natural world and these things together create building blocks for a happier adulthood. Please pray that ‘Nature Bugs’ continues to reach families here in Portishead over the coming months and that it may have a lasting impact for the future. Thank you.
Gifts to the WEBA New Churches Initiative will continue to help us to provide accommodation for Dan, Beth and Pippa as they continue the slow process of building Christian community. We ask each WEBA church to contribute £200 per year, or £75 for smaller churches. Individuals can also support the Initiative by setting up a standing order - contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request a form.