Bristol Church Picks Up National Award11 May 2019
Hope Community Church has been awarded a £2,000 prize after nominations from across the UK were invited for the annual Serving the Community Awards.
Bob Pinnock and Aaron Mathias received the award on behalf of the church during the Congregational Federation national assembly held in Dundee, on Saturday 11 May. The awards, sponsored by national church insurer Congregational Insurance, recognise churches that harness the skills of their members and other local volunteers, to establish and maintain social initiatives within their community.
Hope Community Church is one of several churches participating in the Bristol Churches Winter Night Shelter project. Initially set up over 3 years ago, the project invites churches to open one night a week and provide a safe, warm, friendly shelter for homeless and vulnerable people the majority of whom are referred by agencies such as St Mungo’s. Hot showers are available, trained volunteers provide a warm welcome drink and encourage social interaction by inviting everyone to sit down for a meal together, play cards, games, or watch TV. This respite from the pressure and worry of finding food and shelter each day gives the guests a chance to follow up opportunities and appointments hopefully leading to permanent accommodation.
Many volunteers have come forward from outside the church community in support of the initiative and offered help including non-Christians. Last year 450 volunteers aged late teens to mid-70’s, signed up to help staff the different night shelters. Local children have baked cakes and puddings as special treats for guests and Hotwells residents are washing bedlinen and towels.
Hope Community Church has a heart for social action, in addition to working with the winter night shelter they operate an addiction recovery group; help ex-offenders rehabilitate; are a collection point for the local food bank and run a children’s group.
Pastor Chris Bond said, “We were delighted to hear that we have received the award for the night shelter and other work of Hope Community Church. We’ve just finished the 3rd year and the whole experience of hosting the shelter works well and is so enriching for the volunteers as well as the guests. Many in the local community beyond the church get involved and it seems to us that this is a model that can be adopted by other churches in other cities around the country.”
Margaret Slater, Marketing Manager of Congregational Insurance, commented: “We place a strong focus on supporting community initiatives that really make a difference and unite people. Hope Community Church has worked collaboratively with other churches who have partnered with the local council and other agencies as well as the local community to provide much needed services for the disadvantaged in society”.
Yvonne Campbell General Secretary of the Congregational Federation commented: “Each year I am humbled at the amount of activity and Kingdom building stories I see within the applications for a Serving the Community Award. The churches chosen this year have all partnered with other organisations which has strengthened and complemented their work. I am delighted that Hope Community Church in Bristol has been awarded their well-deserved generous cash prize from Congregational Insurance which will enable them to continue and expand their work in sharing the good news of Jesus in action”
To view short films of this year’s award winners, visit https://youtu.be/Z-H6IdVs_Sw