This is an exciting time for St Peter's in the Pub, Lincoln. It has been commissioned as a distinct congregation by St Peter in Eastgate Church and from October it will start to meet weekly instead of once a month. Its leader, Revd Nick Alexander, explains more.
St Peter's in the Pub started in October 2008 to serve a new, growing community in the Carlton Estate and Bunker's Hill area of Lincoln where, previously, there was no church or church building. St Peter in Eastgate Church had been looking at how best to reach that new community and St Peter's in the Pub was the result of several years of research, community engagement, and listening to local people.
Much of what we did took shape after I attended a mission shaped ministry course in the city. As a result, we organised events, carried out a community survey and started a café church service.
With the help of a consultant recommended by the msm team, our PCC matched the survey's findings with what we had to offer at St Peter in Eastgate. This led to the launch of a parent and toddler group at the estate's Lincolnshire Poacher pub which proved to be very popular. We later ran an Alpha Course on the back of our first Craft Creations evening, also at the Poacher.
The initiative is generally reaching folk who are 'coming back to church' after a while away but we are also seeing a small number of completely unchurched people coming to faith as well.
Almost three years ago, we started St Peter's in the Pub on the first Sunday of the month and we now regularly welcome over 65 adults and about 15 children. The idea has always been to keep everything simple, starting off with coffee and croissants at 10am and having a crèche for pre-schoolers as well as activities for older children during the service.
We run lots of other regular activities as well. These include our weekly parent and toddler group Family Hour which runs on Wednesdays in term time and a similar event once a month on a Saturday morning called Family Time. We have strong links with a local sheltered housing scheme and run Songs of Praise & Tea there once a month. We also have a number of weekday fellowship groups.
In the summer we hold an outdoor community event. This year it took the form of an Inflatables Day at the Carlton Boulevard sports ground. We had Sumo suits, bungee run, inflatable boxing ring, gladiator duel and a bouncy castle alongside a free BBQ – the event attracted over 500 people. As well as providing a great community event for the Carlton area, the aim was to publicise a Christian youth event called 'The Bank' at the Lincoln City football ground. We also hosted two special Christians in Sport evenings at Yarborough Leisure Centre and hundreds of flyers were given out.
We were granted a Bishop's Mission Order in February of this year. This has expanded the geographical area that we are licensed by the Diocese to work in and provides us with even greater opportunities to share the Gospel with others.
Our continued vision at St Peter's in the Pub is to see the emergence of a Christian community welcoming and serving the people of the Carlton Estate and Bunker's Hill areas. We are looking to achieve this through a range of community-building activities, evangelistic events, Bible study, fellowship and our times together at the Lincolnshire Poacher.
From October we will begin meeting every week with a whole-church joint celebration at Eastgate at the end of every month. We will also have the opportunity to come together once a month for an evening Praise & Prayer meeting.
Earlier this year the vicar of St Peter in Eastgate, Revd Edward Bowes-Smith, set out the Church Council's 'Vision for Mission' for St Peter's. The idea centres on being one church family (St Peter's) with a variety of different congregations – including St Peter's in the Pub – each with their own worship styles and mission priorities.
The new arrangements began with the commissioning of St Peter's in the Pub on 18th September 2011 and the first whole-church celebration on 25th September 2011 was a Confirmation Service. The fact remains that wherever we are and however many times we meet, what we value remains the same, namely Worship, Word, Witness, Welcome and Work.