Methodist pioneering minister Joy Adams explains how her fresh expression of church began life in a butchers shop in the local bus terminus. The result was the Terminus Initiative – an ecumenical Christian community.
The Terminus Initiative started out as a community café in an ex-butcher’s shop at a bus terminus. From the beginning we sought to be a loving response to the needs of the local 'Lowedges' Estate community in Sheffield.
It was initially conceived out of unmet needs of a 'mission audit' completed by a local Methodist Church. To complete this, we went out into the estate to ask questions about what people thought the needs were. The most significant finding of the survey, was that local people thought the church was irrelevant and had nothing to contribute. One of the greatest needs that people did identify was the need for a drop-in for older people to be able to come to meet people and socialise in safety, and also a place for younger people. At that time the estate was known for being a rough place with problems with drugs and anti-social behaviour. This coincided with an offer from the owner of the butcher's shop to the Methodist church, to use it for something to help the community. I was asked if I would assist in the exploration of potential solutions to the meeting of these needs and sought other agencies to see if there were any opportunities for partnerships to be able to take on the shop for mission and ministry. So the vision for a community café gradually emerged.
I was one of the founding members of the initiative, as I was involved with it in the early days of my training for Methodist ministry. I quickly discerned that God was asking me to stay with the Terminus Initiative, which at the time was completely against the usual expectation of Methodist itinerant ministry. So I kept this discernment to myself (not even telling my husband) waiting for it to be confirmed by someone else to test it. Within a few weeks, our Superintendent Minister at the time, Ian Bell, asked me if I would consider staying on and co-ordinating the Initiative, but that there would be no money for a stipend. As I had retired early on a pension from the National Health Service, I decided I could cope, and committed to it.
The Terminus Initiative is now in its eighth year. The café is open three days a week, targeting different groups in need, and the premises are used by other community groups when the café is closed. The Terminus Initiative, with its other projects, has supported asylum seekers, refugees, drug users, people with alcohol addictions, people with mental health needs, young people, and older people. In fact there are many social activities going on all the time including discussions/Bible studies, and prayer underpins it all.
In the many partnerships we have, we focus on the spiritual needs of those who come into the Terminus building. We hope that the work of the Initiative has challenged people's perception of the church as 'irrelevant', replacing negative stereotypes with a greater respect for Christianity and the Church. We have seen many people seeking to explore the Christian faith coming out of the community and loving service they have experienced at the Terminus. Many of these people have gone on to discipleship groups of the partner churches, as we seek to be a committed local 'mixed economy' of church finding unity of purpose in mission.
The Terminus Initiative is a good example of what can be done regarding fresh expressions of church, when local churches work together and get their hands dirty.
Having been brought up in the Methodist Church, at the age of 15 I decided there was no such thing as a 'God'. My life from then was based on the scientific method. Proof and disproof were at the roots of my beliefs and actions. There was no room for things that could not be recognised by any of the physical senses. There was no room for faith in how I made my life decisions. For 50 years I conducted my life according to those principles, even though I rarely made a sound decision in all that time.
In 2006 I moved to a new home. Two weeks after moving in I went into hospital for a hip replacement. When I came out I was alone and unable to move very well. I did my weekly shopping on the internet. I saw no one, I felt down and lonely. So much so that one day I decided to hobble up to the local shops where I found the Terminus Café. Over the following weeks and months I made lots of new friends. I was still an atheist at this time even though most of the people with whom I had become friendly were Christians.
Towards Christmas 2007 I was asked if I would like to go to the Terminus Café Christmas Party to be held at a local church. I enjoyed the party, even if I felt a little uncomfortable during prayers. After the meal, I met someone who told me that on Tuesday afternoons a Fellowship meeting was held in the church. It was a friendly event lasting about an hour.
I began attending the Fellowship meetings early in 2008, at first with some apprehension but after a month or so I began to relax and I noticed I was starting to enjoy the songs we sung. The prayers began to be less of a problem for me and I began taking notice of the message the speakers were offering. A lady in the Fellowship group told me she was to be baptised and asked me to support her by coming to the service. I hadn't been to a church service in 50 years but said I would attend, which I did.
During the service a thought struck me – I remember it clearly. 'My way of thinking should apply to how I explain God's universe'. It then dawned on me that I had become a Christian. God's universe is his creation and he has given me the privilege of being able to understand little bits of it! The little bits of the universe that I understand have helped me to make my living and now I can use that understanding to give praise to God for the magnificence of his creation.
It has taken many years of study to reach a mature view of those parts of the universe that I know a little bit about. Whereas, I have accepted Jesus as my Saviour, as a child would accept by faith all that a parent has told them. Faith is hope in the future. Hope by faith is how I have gained an inner joy and contentment believing that my life has been saved by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. I have turned from my sins to my Lord God, having been proud and following my own path. Now I ask him to guide me, to show me the way I must go to walk in Jesus' footsteps.