New Creations

A Church of England reader and bereavement coordinator in Merseyside, Janet Cross, became aware of the need for some kind of support group for the bereaved.

She had the idea of a craft session as 'occupational therapy' and opened it up to anyone who wanted to come. Around ten churchgoers took advantage of the group, New Creations, which began in 1998, always opening with a prayer.

At first they focused on general crafts but soon gravitated towards making cards. A monthly 'God slot' centred on the theme of the cards being created that week – for example, 'leaves' and the idea of falling.

Through Janet's invitations to those she met in the course of her lay ministry in the parish, and through members telling their friends about it, the group grew. Now around 50 people are registered at New Creations, with up to 35 attending at any one time.

New Creations meets on Tuesdays. Since summer 2006, the sessions have started with two 'clusters' and thus become part of the cell format used by Janet's church.

The clusters are led by one woman each, with Janet mentoring and assisting. Both clusters meet at 11am in the church building, one made up of twelve previously unchurched people and the other of seven churchgoers.

'The people who weren't going to church would come to me with prayer requests, so I could see they were warming'

Just over an hour later they join for lunch in the restaurant attached to their church, after which the card making session begins.

Janet describes the 'unchurched' cluster as

a support group

in which members are beginning to open up to each other.

The people who weren't going to church would come to me with prayer requests, so I could see they were warming,

she says. A monthly cluster was offered at first, but this developed quickly into a weekly meeting in response to the enthusiasm of members.

We're looking for a vision to develop more,

Janet adds. A breaking of bread just before Christmas 2006

went down beautifully

and members have begun to pray out loud together.

Janet cites one lady who has openly expressed a sense that she now considers New Creations to be her church.

She is also considering an away day combining a morning of meditation and an afternoon of card making.

New people are coming each week,

Janet says.

If we carry on like this we'll need another cluster.