Waterways Chaplaincy Partners in Mission scheme aims to encourage waterside churches to enable mission outreach to people in their local waterways communities.
A Waterways Chaplaincy Partner in Mission said :-
‘St Lawrence Hungerford is right beside the Kennet and Avon canal. We even have a Hungerford church swing bridge! Partnering with Waterways Chaplaincy has been an easy way to engage with canal users. Waterways Chaplains walk the towpath most weeks and as a result we have had four boaters worship with us through the winter while they have been at their winter moorings. This is a great opportunity to show the gospel in action. I recommend it to all churches with a nearby waterway’.
Rev Mike Saunders. Vicar St Lawrence, Hungerford
Through the scheme membership churches are enabled to :-
- Make contact with new people in the community
- Deepen community links opening opportunities for the Gospel
- Offer practical support and help to those in need
The story of a boater helped
A request for help was made through the WWC website in bitterly cold winter weather.
Message from Boater: “Only reason I haven’t killed myself is because I’m scared of what might happen to my dog. Now I’m scared I’ll die anyway and he’ll be trapped in the boat with my body. I’ve lost my job. I’ve no money. My boat license has expired and I need work done for the BSC before I can renew. The temperatures are going well below zero and I have no money for paraffin for my stove. We’re waking up in ice and my blankets and clothes are all permanently wet. I’m running low on food for myself and my dog. The canal is frozen so I couldn’t move even if my engine was working. I can’t see where any hope is going to come from”.
There was no chaplain within easy distance so a member of a local church was asked to help by Waterways Chaplaincy. Within 24hrs contact was made with the boater by phone. The church member later reported that they had taken her some basic provisions – bread, eggs, paraffin, dog biscuits, milk, and the next day they collected her and took her to their church café which has a FoodBank on a Wednesday. The boater went away with some bags of goodies. She was in tears on both occasions, and she sent a WhatsApp message:-
“HI Xxxx I am in a much better place now! Much more helpful! You really did help me carry on when I couldn’t see a way through! I have managed to claim Universal Credit and hopefully I will get a bit of advance money in a few days when they phone me. It might be a simple thing to do for most people but I really struggle with things like that. I think I am going to get through now whereas when I sent that email I really believed that I was at the end. Thank you so much! What you did kept me going. I have (now) moved down to Xxxxxxx and will hopefully reach Xxxxx this weekend. Then I can see what jobs are about!”
Since the ice had melted, the church member spotted the lady’s boat in Xxxxx and had another chat. She was due for an appointment with the Job Centre, also her boat needed a Boat Safety Certificate and she was being chased for one. She had to start the engine by connecting two bare wires and couldn’t afford the cost of getting repairs done.. The church member spoke to a boat electrician who agreed to inspect the boat and advise what rewiring would be needed.
The church member said “…..At least we have given her some hope.’“
‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 15v13
To explore the possibility of becoming a Partner in Mission with Waterways Chaplaincy with no assumed commitment please email the National Lead Waterways Chaplain Rev Chris Upton by clicking HERE
Depending on your circumstances it might be helpful to :-
- Have a chat with a Vicar or Minister who is already part of this scheme
- Arrange for a few members of your church to attend a WWC event such as a training day or the WWC National Celebration
- Arrange for one of the WWC National Leadership team to speak to your PCC or Mission Committee
- Membership of the scheme is open to any Christian Church near waterways
Each Partner in Mission church would enter into a bespoke agreement to clarify expectations relevant to their particular situation.