Barbara Mercer, Local Missional Leader at St Paul’s, Prescot talks to us about her role and how it impacts on the growth of the church within the local community.
I was born in Prescot and attended Prescot Parish Church with my parents until 1956, when St Paul’s Mission Church was opened and we were asked to help start the new church (60 years ago next year!).
My husband Ray and I were married in 1963 and we have two children, Caroline who is 48 and Philip who is 38. We have four grandchildren, Amberley 23, Luke 20, Leon 14 and Jacob 6 and two great grandchildren Ella 5 and Millie 2. We have been involved in life at St Paul’s for most of our married life – I play the organ and have taught in Sunday school and Ray and I have both been church wardens.
About 7 years ago we became quite concerned at how much our congregation had dwindled to about 20. After much prayer and discussion with John our vicar we decided to invite the local community to a weekly lunch. A number of people from all walks of life attended and we made many new friends. Then God called us to do something more and together with Revd Peter Smythe, we started to hold a ‘Service of the Word’ once a month before the lunch. This was very well attended, so we started to have a monthly Sunday lunch preceded by a ‘Service of the Word’. This has given us the opportunity for many times of friendship and fellowship and also enabled us to share the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. When Peter left, I was able to continue taking the services which are attended by around 40 people.
About 3 years ago I felt that God was calling me for something else but I lacked direction. At this time our vicar received notification of a course run by Debbie Ellison called Direction! This eventually led me to being licensed as a Local Missional Leader at St Paul’s.
I feel that God is calling me to continue reaching out into the community and show his love in action. With my very supportive husband, we continue our luncheon club, have many days out, and now two group holidays a year involving about 80 people. We continue to hold our twice monthly services and have prayer cards on the tables for people to ask for prayer.
The next challenge God has for me is to reach out to the children in our area – not quite so easy – but we will continue with our efforts with much, much prayer!
Being a Local Missional Leader is a great privilege and I feel that with God’s help and the help of loyal friends at church, we can by faith and by works, make a difference to so many people.