Last Sunday I was privileged to join the congregation and guests to celebrate the 40th anniversary of St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Cartland Road. It’s been there longer and in an earlier version was known as the corrugated chapel, essentially an old tin hut.
As I listened to long-standing members, I heard about ordinary people contributing and making a difference. They weren’t seeking acclaim for their actions, but were doing their bit by helping the community.
Today, the church is used by many social groups throughout the week and also happens to be the venue for meetings of my constituency Labour Party.
In his address, a former minister, Reverend Stuart Burgess, talked about his worries for the future.
As we emerge from this pandemic, there are difficult times ahead. There’s the loss of loved ones, unresolved grief from being unable to say last farewells or participate in proper funerals, the strain on mental health and developmental difficulties faced by young children during lockdown.
As we grapple with this, we also must contend with a cost-of-living crisis which is hitting people really hard.
I’m a politician and look to politics and government to provide support but it’s not the only answer .
We need those of all faiths and none to come together and help the less fortunate. People need friendship. They need a helping hand; we cannot afford to cross on the other side.
Strong and caring communities create the lasting infrastructure which makes a difference. Yes, we need government intervention, and a council that cares and listens, but above all we need playgroups, lunch clubs, youth activities and help for single parents, the bereaved and the lonely.
St Andrew’s is a shining example of how a church can be so much more than just a place of worship. I believe we are in for some tough times but can weather the storm if we stick together.
It’s not just about buildings; its about people and our obligation’s to our neighbours, communities and each other.