26 March 2010
Churches in Staplehurst set good example for unity
Churches in Staplehurst are showing that it's always better when they're together. The three main churches in the Wealden village in Kent are working together to make a positive impact in their 6,000-strong community through meeting and praying together, running joint mission events, and collaborating on a debt counselling and advice centre.
Clive Jones, the pastor of Staplehurst Free Church, is at the centre of all this activity. His church, along with the local URC and Church of England congregations, have met together for many years for an evening service on those months which include a fifth Sunday. They also hold joint services during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in January and the Women's World Day of Prayer in March.
The clergy of all three churches meet every six weeks for prayer, conversation and a meal together. Just over three years ago they held a united tent mission for a week entitled "Celebration of Life" which saw some 4,000 different people attend the variety of events held during that week.
This year they have taken their collaboration to the next level by starting a united debt counselling and advice centre for their village and beyond, sponsored by all the churches and staffed by a fully trained team of 22 counsellors drawn from the three churches. The centre was launched at a joint service earlier this year.
Clive said about the debt counselling service, "I believe this is one of the most significant projects we have been enabled by God's grace to action in this community, and slowly a build-up of clients has ensued whom we are able to help advise and restore hope to, when all else seems to bring despair."