Chadwick Mount United Reformed Church (Mersey Synod)
Let me begin with a confession. Coming from a country such as Guyana, I never quite developed the habit of paying attention to distances given the very long journeys one had to travel, to get anywhere. So, London to Liverpool (on Friday) and then to Southport (on Saturday) may seem quick on a train, but it is a long distance to travel. On the journey, I managed to finish the draft of an essay and plough half-way through a new book I am currently reading (The Theology of Food). I have great respect for all the church colleagues who travel long distances for a meeting at Church House or elsewhere in the UK!
My weekend visit to Mersey Synod began on Friday March 8th from Euston to Liverpool Lime Street where Howard Sharp (Synod moderator) collected me to join Chadwick Mount United Reformed Church for a meal and evening service. What a pleasant and warm welcome it was, being met at the door by John Grundy (Church Secretary and worship leader) and his mom. When queried by Howard about the shape of the evening programme, I was struck by John’s response: “First we eat and then everything else falls into place!” I immediately had the feeling of an exceptionally generous community and was not surprised as we reached into a cosy seating area to be greeted with a couple of familiar faces, hugs and pleasant comments as I was being introduced by Howard and John to the others present. This is a congregation in the United Reformed Church to be in if you, the reader, is Liverpool based and if you are looking for an open, friendly and welcoming church.
Chadwick Mount URC may be a small congregation (29 members or 21 families), but they do reflect the three words strap-line (revive, restore and rejoice) of their mission statement from the stories I heard of the place and the people. The place was buzzing with life and especially as we gather for a meal in the main hall, with an array of art work created by members on one of the walls delighting the eyes!Mind you, the book I read on a theology of food did not help me to “work-up” an appetite!
The feast spilled over as we gathered for worship. I was given a small welcome card as every visitor would receive with enough information to help me a first time visitor to understand what will happen in the worship. What a very thoughtful idea to share with many of our congregations! I learnt that the last time a moderator of GA visited Chadwick Mount was in the 80’s when the new church had no windows!
In a beautiful worship space, with well-chosen hymns and everything projected with appropriately chosen images, we were very ably led in worship by John Grundy (a lay member) whose style, words and liturgical manners were exceptionally brilliant! And even more brilliant was his brief reflection. I was deeply moved by his reflection on how isolating our church language can be to newcomers, the need for change and that God is not yet finished with Chadwick Mount URC. Among the words that impressed me were these:
“The world needs grace. The world needs love. The world needs hope. We have these things in abundance and we got it for the smallest of price from God. So let us offer this to the world around us….”
I left Chadwick Mount URC, inspired, excited and full of hope: for here was a community living out what it means to be salt and leaven during the week and in the wider community. Here, size becomes irrelevant in the context of mustard-seed faith!