"A focal point for God's on-going Mission in Kirkby"

On July 20th, the Church in the Centre, run by ten churches of different denominations and community groups, is set to open for the summer at Kirkby In-Shops. Rev Jayne Vandenberg Owens tells us more.

On July 20th, the Church in the Centre, run by ten churches of different denominations and community groups, is set to open for the summer at Kirkby In-Shops. It will offer a range of worship opportunities and community support from three retail units, loaned for free. Rev Jayne Vandenberg Owens tells us more.

How did Church in the Centre begin?

Since taking up my post as Curate of Kirkby Parish in 2011, I have actively been involved in working with our ecumenical partners in the development of the ‘Churches Together’ Town Centre ministry. For the past two years we have had a presence at the In-Shops at the key times over the Christmas and Easter periods. Our presence has been welcomed, resulting in stronger links between local churches, charities and traders. We realised the demand was there so wanted to do something over a longer period of time.

Who is involved?                                                                                                                    

We have the support of the Church of England, Roman Catholic and two non-denominational churches in Kirkby. Geographically the churches are represented from all four districts that make up Kirkby town.  St. Mark’s, Mary Mother of God and the Christian Fellowship based in Northwood. St. Martin’s, St. Joseph’s and Lifegate based in Southdene. St. Chad’s and St. Michaels & Holy Angels based in Westvale.  St. Andrew’s and St. Peter & Paul based in Towerhill.

Why bring the church to the high street, rather than just invite people to local churches?

Whilst the previous town centre evangelistic events have been hugely successful in a variety of ways, this has not resulted in any marked increase on the weekly attendance figures in any of the churches. Like many of the churches up and down the country, the churches in Kirkby consist of predominately elderly congregations who are spiritually fed through formal liturgy and sacramental worship. The majority of people we see in the Town Centre are un-churched families who I believe have a deep rooted spirituality but feel unable to connect with what the traditional church has to offer. If this is true, as local research would suggest, and the people do not come to the church, then the church must go to the people.