People's prayer concerns heard by local churches
Can you spare a couple of hours a month to ensure Street Church continues for another decade?
Street Church volunteers celebrate over 10 years of supporting local people
For more than a decade, two or three volunteers from Trentham Methodist Church and the Longton Fellowship of Christian Churches have been speaking with passersby about their prayer concerns. The volunteers have stood in a number of locations over the years and today it's in the car park of the large Tesco supermarket in Longton, usually on a Wednesday.
"We're proud to say that Street Church has been running for over ten years!", say Jacqueline, organiser of Street Church for Trentham Methodist Church.
"We wear red jackets and badges with Street Church on them and have a flag with the Street Church logo which sits in a heavy-based stand. Originally we had an awning kind of tent without sides and an A-frame bill board but they got destroyed by the wind! So now we content ourselves with just our flag and jackets.
"Passersby still notice us because we have a variety of chocolates on offer. It's not just about free chocolates but who doesn't like one!
"Folks will often ask what we are doing and we explain that the prayers will go to Christian churches in Longton and my church in Trentham.
"If they want to stop and engage in conversation we encourage them but if they want to hurry by, then we just say ‘God Bless’.
Prayer requests vary from week to week
"If they stop we ask them who they would like us to pray for or if they would like us to pray for them. The requests are mostly for health reasons and, like Our Lord with the ten lepers, occasionally one stops by and tells us their prayers were answered, and to say thank you.
"Prayer requests are not always about health though, it can be about employment, relationships, family matters and other areas in life that can be challenging. It can even be a request for help to find a long-lost friend or relative.
"People may ask us to pray for the dead, however, we suggest that we pray for the bereaved family. Sometimes, we pray with folks in the street if they have particularly worries or are distressed."
"We normally have between 10 – 30 prayer requests per session and we are in the car park for about an hour."
"The conversations are usually good humoured and our presence is known by some, so much so that we do have some regular visitors. Many people will tell us they always say their prayers even though they don’t attend church.
"One set of teenagers were boasting they knew the Lord’s Prayer and recited it loudly, which was a great way of them doing our work for us!"
"Sometimes people stop to tell us they've sorted out their issues or they've found that job they were looking for. It is so rewarding to hear their good news. We usually have at least one 'thank you' for good health or a happy life. One chap recently told me he thanks God every day, when he opens his eyes!
"Of course, often the children are attracted by the chocolates and it is nice to ask for a blessing for a family. We also love it when Christians stop by and the Catholic Father, from Longton, will stop and say 'hello' and they use the prayers in their prayer meeting, every week.
"We often get offered donations which we refuse because we only want to receive people's prayer concerns.
Prayers heard in local churches
"As Street Church volunteers we write the prayer requests on cards and then one of us types them onto one list, which is distributed by email to participating churches. At the following Sunday Service the prayer requests are read by church members.
"At the Methodist church in Trentham the prayers are pinned to the notice board, and the number of prayer requests is printed in the church notice sheets and added to the intercessions. And, occasionally, all the prayers are read out in full, by the minister or local preacher.
"It is a valuable ministry and one which we feel, the Lord Blesses; however, we are always short of helpers. When we started we had two sets of two people and now we are often down to only two or three altogether. Indeed, if two of our faithful workers didn’t come every week it would have folded by now."
Volunteering for Street Church has personal reward
"We would love to have more volunteers onboard. It's such satisfying work: we meet people from all walks of life. We take the time to talk to people who need to hear a friendly voice or who want to talk about their worries. We all benefit from such encounters."
"If you can spare the time to join us for just one hour on a Wednesday between 1pm and 2pm, your support would be very much appreciated. We have recently reduced our Street Church attendance to fortnightly and ideally we would like to be weekly. Your commitment could be once a month, fortnightly or even just a few times a year.
"Any help would be welcome. Come along and give it a go. We meet at the side door of Longton Central Hall next to the café. You can park in Tesco’s car park or get the bus which stops in the same place.
"Please join us and help in this very important and valuable outreach. Please pray for the work of Street Church."
If you would like to volunteer for Street Church contact Jacqueline via our Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How Street Church began
Street Church started 10 years ago as part of the Longton Fellowship of churches initiative. In those days, John Allessi from St. Paul’s Edensor took out the insurance and provided the necessary equipment in order for us to start. All Longton Christian churches were invited to participate. At first two main churches took part in Street Church - Pentecostal and Church of England, then a year later the Methodists joined in. Now, prayers are distributed to multi-denomination churches in the area.
After five years, the Elim Church at Dresden took over the insurance and running of the group.
"We would like to thank Elim Church for the continued dedication to God’s work," says Jacqueline.