Greenacres Church Picks Up National Award

11 May 2019

Greenacres Congregational Church Oldham has been awarded a £2,000 prize after nominations from across the UK were invited for the annual Serving the Community Awards.

Sylvia Huttley and Stuart Paulley received the award on behalf of the church members 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.

The Friendship Centre was established within the church space over four years ago, to provide local people with a place where they can meet, chat, play games and enjoy a freshly cooked meal at a very reasonable price. This safe and welcoming environment, run entirely by volunteers every Thursday, is open to anyone in the area and further afield.  Some users are referred by the “Early Help” network in Oldham which supports vulnerable people who may have issues such as homelessness, benefit difficulties or health and mobility problems.

Stuart Paulley, Church Deacon and Social Secretary said: “All volunteers at the Thursday Friendship Centre were ‘chuffed to bits’ when we heard about the award.  Positive feedback of this type is so rewarding and its especially relevant for our minister, David Lampard and his wife Sian who have worked so hard to make our church more inclusive.  We’ve received many compliments from people who use the church but it's even nicer to be given national recognition. The money will be put to good use continuing our work serving God and the community.” 

Aside from the activities in the main Friendship centre, a “Sing and Rhyme session aimed at children up to 3 years of age with their parents and carers takes place for up to 30 minutes   usually commencing around 10am.  All new children receive a welcome bag including a small teddy and book.  There’s a Karate class on Tuesday evening, a community Pilates class on Friday morning and a table tennis social club on Friday afternoons, as well as an ongoing calendar of social events and activities throughout the year.

Church minister David Lampard has also fostered relationships with local schools to develop a greater understanding of how faith can unite communities.  More recently this has extended to establishing links with the staff and children at the Bright Futures School for children with Autism.  

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.  Greenacres Congregational church has reached out to the community and literally opened its doors to provide social interaction and friendship. They have also responded to more local needs by working with their volunteers and referral agencies to provide some much-needed services”.

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 Greenacres Church in Oldham 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/stwdHELGOXY