Grafted – update Apr13

Grafted, a Church Army project in the Scottish Borders at Newcastleton, was launched by Captain Paul Little eight years ago. Mick McTighe now leads the ministry, which is linked with Refresh Community church.

The project reaches out to people with chaotic lifestyles, coming alongside them so that they may be enabled and encouraged to know Jesus.

Grafted is continually seeking to respond to God's call and now has a thriving outreach to older people led by Mary Mitchell. 'Mary's Teas' is based around a weekly meal, crafts and quizzes and occasional day excursions. Grafted also has busy children's and youth ministry in Newcastleton and works regularly in the local primary school. Volunteers are an integral part of the team as the ministry continues to develop.

In Hawick, 20 miles from Newcastleton, the team manages a drop-in for those seeking help with substance and alcohol misuse. This is run in partnership with Hawick Baptist church. A similar work in Galashiels is has been running for two years after being established by Grafted. Called 'Window of Time' this work continues to challenge those with addictive and volatile lifestyles. Walking, mountain biking and creative crafts are further activities that the team uses to explore faith and work in relation to issues that clients may be struggling with.

Grafted - holiday clubGrafted manages and supports this much needed work and is also looking to the future with the development of a new drop-in at Newcastleton. This would be for people living with a variety of needs, including loneliness, depression and addictions. As the vision grows, we are working hard to develop relationships with churches in the surrounding Borders area to provide hope for those without hope.

I came to Newcastleton from Huddersfield in August last year and it has been quite a learning curve because I'm used to a parish setting, though my work has always been with those the church finds difficult to reach or communicate with. It is such a different culture here to what I'm accustomed to; it's a very tight-knit community and everyone knows what's happening in the area This is a very isolated place, the nearest petrol station is 12 miles away and the closest supermarket is 25 miles away but there's a fantastic butcher down the lane and the folk in Hawick and Galashiels really look forward to us taking lots of great pies to the drop-ins!

Paul Little, his wife Elaine and family did a brilliant job here and they are much missed. He loved outdoor activities and was great at leading them; I'm not that type of character. Mine is a different sort of role but I equally seek to make Christ known through word and deed as I look to support and build on, and unite, the various ministries of Grafted, Refresh, Deeper and the Parish Church.

When I arrived, there was a little confusion as to what came under the Grafted flag and what didn't so part of my role is 'de-fragmenting' everything to bring all the elements together under the banner of Christ.

Grafted - Kidz ClubOne of the elements is the No 8 Club which we run as a local authority youth venue, in agreement with the local council authority. Many of the No 8 young people also attend Refresh Community Church, a fresh expression of church which uses the same venue fortnightly on Tuesday evenings and meets in homes at small groups every other week.

My wife Ros, who is a keen 'crafter' has joined the local knitting club and is making new friends in the village. She has also set up a crafting class at the Hawick drop-in, which has proved very popular amongst our clients – both women and men.

Our evangelist-in-training, Paul Smith, is full of ideas and it is through him that we have been given permission to develop a ministry in the 'Beanscene' coffee house in Hawick. They have offered to cordon off part of the upstairs floor of the café as well as giving us use of a cinema connected to their business if we needed to go further with our work. This has proved to be a popular venue as it is very public and has a relaxed, non-threatening, friendly atmosphere.

Lee and Claire Musson, two of the leaders currently running Refresh, are also responsible for Rock UK Christian outdoor adventure centre but Claire is expecting a baby in April so we will be taking on their Refresh home group while she is on maternity leave. Refresh currently has a leadership of four. Working alongside Lee and Claire are Julie Thomson – Children and Families Worker with Grafted – and Mary Mitchell, who leads Mary's Teas and the visiting team to the elderly. Paul Smith is also involved in Refresh through teaching, leading home groups and leading worship.

Grafted - youth workersThose who come to Refresh wouldn't normally go to the parish church; we are not trying to change that at all. Instead we want them to come in and recognise that we are the church.

There was some misunderstanding about Refresh because it was so different, but now people do come from the parish church to support us, and they meet every Friday to pray for the work of the church within the community. Some of the women from the church bake for the monthly coffee bar for teenagers which is run as a joint outreach by Grafted, Refresh, Rock UK and Liddesdale Parish Church, and more and more of them are attracted to what we're doing. We are also meeting regularly with members of Rock UK, Refresh and Liddesdale Parish Church to ensure we are pulling together all our resources to ensure the children's and youth ministry in the community is the best we can do.

I, along with the team, am building further bridges with the local parish church though I try not to get involved with Sundays too much. We have got more involved with their midweek activities because it's all part of trying to encourage them to be more active in what they are trying to do in their community. We need to build bridges and explode a few of the myths that have built up around us. I want people to recognise that we are here to serve as the body of Christ and as such are on their side. We don’t want to undermine the church but to help them be more outward looking rather than inward looking.

Grafted - the teamIt's a balancing act because the traditional churches we are involved with are quite happy that we are available for them but I am trying to resist any Idea that we want to take everything over on their behalf. I still keep in mind that my aim is to build community in Newcastleton and step up to Grafted2.

We don't talk about going to church; instead we constantly talk to the community about being church. I go 'with' the church to a place where a lot of people have lots in common. People understand this concept much better which therefore helps them understand more clearly why we want to meet together. I also think the community has to see a group of people experiencing the same ups and downs of life; they need to see that Christ is in us. We are hoping and praying that we can end up with a core of people in the village who are going to be salt and light here and confident in sharing the hope we have Jesus.