A Nottinghamshire tea room continues to host a regular week night meeting for fellowship, worship and prayer and Bible study/discussion. For a few people Fellowship@Grannies continues to be church, while others are on their 'way through', linking in – or returning to – established local congregations.
Revd Janet Tanner took on the leadership of Cotgrave Methodist Church in September last year after the Revd Andy Fyall moved on to become a Superintendent Minister. Janet outlines what has happened since then.
An Alpha course had been the starting point for Fellowship@Grannies, and we hosted another course from September to December 2009. Those not directly involved in leading or providing food and so on, continued to meet for fellowship and prayer nearby. Again, since September, we are only running one 'stream' rather than two.
We get about eight to 12 people to the weekly fellowship, including a few younger mums. They are mostly drawn from Alpha though some have initially come for the fellowship and then done the Alpha course. Others see it as a stepping stone to developing their faith.
There are people who have needed three or four years to build in faith and confidence but Grannies has really helped them to do that. A couple of them will be received into membership of the Methodist Church in the autumn.
Last autumn we focused on Alpha. In the spring we concentrated on getting into the Bible and we worked our way through Mark's Gospel. There's a leadership team of about half a dozen of us, and for the summer term we encouraged people to pair up with a Grannies leader to co-present a session about a selected Bible character. People tackled it in very different ways and we had some very lively evenings! The idea was to develop new leaders, try out new skills and help to grow greater confidence: I very much believe that it is working.
This summer we also have a focus on prayer, and the different leaders will pick out different aspects of prayer to talk about in their own sessions. All of this helps to grow leadership; in fact Grannies does seem to be encouraging people to take leaps of faith and imagination with someone considering ordained ministry and others taking on the challenges of different leadership roles elsewhere.
People are mostly going down the Methodist route because that's what they’re accustomed to though there are some folk who belong to Anglican churches and other Christian fellowships in the villages around and about who have really appreciated Grannies too. Leadership can take folk in all sorts of directions and at Grannies we have to see ourselves as building people up and letting them go. There's no doubt that it keeps everything fresh but it's a flying by the seat of the pants job at times! The ripples from Fellowship@Grannies could turn into tidal waves but not necessarily in Cotgrave.
In saying that, Grannies has certainly made a very small but quite significant impact on the local community. I believe this is due to the fact that Grannies is not only home to this Fellowship but also functions as an 'ordinary' tea room and Louise Beaumont and her staff team are there all the time. It is a lovely 'front door' into matters relating to faith and Christianity but it's not a traditional church door, something that would be off-putting to so many people.
These things are always very fragile, it all depends on who walks in – and who walks out – but there are lots of good things going on at the moment and we are very grateful to God for that.