A teashop in a former mining town in Nottinghamshire provided the venue for a week night Alpha course. It was so successful that the meetings grew into a brand new church held on Thursday evenings: Fellowship@Grannies.
Members of a local Methodist church in a former mining town just outside Nottingham wanted to repeat their experience of an Alpha course with their non-Christian friends. 'But,' they told their minister, the Revd Andy Fyall, in 2002, 'they won't come to church.' Looking around for an alternative venue, Andy rang the local teashop, Grannies. Owner Louise Beaumont was only too happy to help. A descendant of an Alpha course herself, she had, it turned out, a vision for using her teashop as a place of ministry.
'If you feel led to do something, give it a go,' recommends Andy. 'If God is in it, it will happen.'
The teashop began to open for a new Alpha course on Thursday evenings, a day
originally chosen to fit Fyall’s commitments to his three existing congregations. Adverts were placed in local publications, through doors and in the teashop. Nineteen people came, fourteen of whom stayed for a follow up course, eventually taking part in the support and leadership of successive Alphas.
Out of these has grown Fellowship@Grannies, a new church of 25 people. It meets along the cell group principles of 'welcome, worship, word, witness'. A social time of coffee and cake is followed by modern worship songs and prayer, which is spontaneous and low-key, 'often conversational', says Andy. Bibles are provided so that everyone can follow the reading, page numbers being announced along with chapter and verse. A time of interactive study follows, with a strong emphasis on encouraging members to share their own faith. Outside resources such as Missionary Church, Missionary Journeys by Steven Croft aid this process.
'Tea rooms do not shout faith, but there is something different about them and in the fellowship on Thursdays, there is a welcome and a quiet holiness that is very special,' says Louise.