When we came to St Andrew's to develop the Pioneering Ministry, we spent the summer absorbing all that Chelmsley has to offer; exploring the woodlands, Meriden adventure park, meeting new people and getting to know our neighbours and the many many children that congregate both on our road and also the surrounding streets. It was an incredible summer of watching, listening and praying. One of the reoccurring themes we heard was Chelmsley residents say is “no one loves us”, “we are the forgotten people” and that neither Birmingham or Solihull councils wanted to take Chelmsley Wood as its own, that they are in a sort of no mans land. yet, we see it differently, there is such a fantastic community spirit here that already feels a blessing to be a part of. Just last week, we held our first outdoor community film night in our back garden. It was full of such a variety of people from all walks of life, young and old, (mostly younger as we watched Monsters Inc).
The parents that came, though we wanted to host them and bless them - in turn it blessed us by getting involved and helping with the hosting of drinks, cooked food and the like. This enabled fantastic conversations to develop as we listened and heard stories from those who have lived here for many years and those more recent. As we saw the richness in the conversations, it reminded me of how Jesus must have felt. He wasn’t particularly loved by those of his time! He was misunderstood and condemned, it was only the few who chose to listen to his message that came to know the gift that he came to offer. Taking time to listen and hear a community of people who have felt unheard and rejected, and valuing their voices and contribution to their community, we think is key, that’s what Jesus did, he listened and spent time with people intentionally in growing relationships and sharing good news.
We are by no means experts, however, this is a journey of exploring what it really means to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’… pioneering might be the title, but it is simply doing life together, encouraging and affirming all that is good on the Wood, building relationships and asking, what does it mean to be the ‘beloved’. To claim it, live it and experience that wonderful intimate relationship that only God can fulfil.
As we explore this through activities like the open air film night, community meals and church services and other activities, we welcome you to explore that question with us. Each month we have a community meal around the table on a Sunday afternoon, sharing experiences and eating together. There is an opportunity to gather during the week to again meet over the table with food to deepen relationships and know one another on a Wednesday. And finally, we would love to invite you to join us and know what it means to belong to the wider family of God as we meet to worship together on a Sunday.