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Good things coming at St Werburgh's

First published on: 5th September 2022

Situated in a prominent position on Wilbraham Road in Chorlton, St Werburgh’s Church is undergoing a transformation that promises ‘good things coming’ for the community.

In 2020, the Diocese of Manchester invited James and Emily Neal to lead a new initiative in South Manchester. With support from the New Wine network, the diocese designated St Werburgh’s as a resource church: a church designed to plant and revitalise churches.

Getting going in the middle of the pandemic meant that the new team couldn’t invite people in, so they put all their effort into looking outwards and beginning to forge relationships with local groups and neighbours as far as they were able. WhatsApp and social media were great for this. They found that people were hungry for community and enjoyed the Advent activity bags and online services on offer.

Garden party at St Werburgh's

Last Spring, with lockdown easing, the church began running ‘Little Werbs’ – a parent and toddler group in the church hall. As well as offering fun activities for children, the group is a big hit with parents who value the friendship and support on offer. The church has had 250 children through the door and Little Werbs is being recommended by healthcare professionals in the area.

The Youth Worker, Becca, is beginning to connect with the streams of young people who walk past the church every day on their way home from school. Refreshments and activities are offered, which the young people enjoy and appreciate.

Amy Hawkins, the Operations Manager for St Werburgh’s, is excited to see what has happened in the last two years and what is still to come. She said:

“Since we got going in September 2020, we’ve realised that building good relationships with the community has been key. We were able to build community online and now we’ve got our baby and toddler group running. We’ve had garden parties on the front lawn and Andy Bird, our curate, is running a football men’s ministry. So there’s lots going on and that’s helping us to connect with the community and build relationships, and means that we’re starting to see people being attracted to come to our church services.”

Andy Bird is the curate who has been at St Werburgh’s for a year and is known as the ‘team evangelist’ because of the ease with which he naturally connects with people. He is learning a lot and thoroughly enjoying being based at St Werburgh’s. Andy said:

“It’s been great to join such and amazing team of mature and experienced Christians who have a heart for Chorlton and for reaching out to people who don’t know God’s love for them yet. It’s been great to be with people who have such experience, knowledge and passion and I’m absorbing as much as I can.” Andy and his wife Beth, who is training for ordained ministry, hope to plant a new church from St Werburgh’s in the near future.

There are also exciting plans to improve the church building at St Werburgh’s. The physical space is being renewed to make it fit for purpose for the growing mission and ministry of the church. Building work began in May and should be complete by the end of this year, when a big community celebration is planned. The building works include improving access for people with buggies and wheelchairs, creating a new welcome area at the front of the church, and sympathetically improving the flexibility of the worship space.

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