Pioneer Curate, Rev Captain Richard Priestley oversees the leadership team in Mawsley and serves in the parishes of St Andrew's, Cransley, and St Andrew's, Broughton. He has been an evangelist with Church Army for over 20 years.
Mawsley Church is a growing Christian community in the village of Mawsley, Northamptonshire. Together with our sister church, St Andrew's, Cransley we seek to show God's love in our local community.
We meet in The Centre at Mawsley and also in people's homes. In November 2010, SPACE on Sunday – a monthly 'café with a bit more' – was launched in The Centre. It offers a variety of spaces – a quiet space to think, meditate or pray; a space for children with Bible-based activities; and a common space for everyone to enjoy a coffee, bacon roll and a chat.
Mawsley is a new-build village, the oldest house here is eight years old, and it's two miles from the next village and four miles from the nearest major café or shop. It has a very young population of fairly middle-class, aspiring professionals. There is also a social housing sector in the village but it's a bit hidden away. On the whole, it's a 'living the dream' type of place.
The Church had tried different things to reach non-Christians, including messy church, but they were pretty much variations on an inherited theme. When I arrived here, about two years ago, I spent the first 18 months just listening to the community and looking at what was going on. Our services themselves weren't bringing in new people in any way but I could see that there were signs of community, with a lot of children in the village and people out and about walking their dogs.
The idea of this latest venture is to create a variety of spaces for people, a communal space, quiet space, children's space, and then at 11am I call everyone to order and we have a Thought for the Day in the bar area.
One outcome of this is that I had a really interesting conversation with someone on the board of this Centre. He had no concept of the church except to see it as a private club, there was no idea that what we do is for people who are 'non-members'. I had to explain that when we want to hire the centre it's not for what we want to do, instead it's to use it as a base for services to the wider village.
SPACE is about the church trying to speak and connect and do things that are noticeably different and relevant. Just to meet and have a chat is valuable because there is only a small coffee shop, but nowhere else in this village for adults to go and relax together. We are going to try and do it for a year on a monthly basis. We will then reflect back on it in the autumn to see if we have made any inroads into people's perception of 'church'.