12th June, 2012
Assist News Service
What will you bring to the table? That was the question from the Eden Project’s Big Lunch team when they asked community outreach ministry HOPE to help to get churches involved in local Big Jubilee Lunches across the UK.
As a result thousands of churches were inspired by HOPE to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee by helping with or hosting a Big Jubilee Lunch for people in their neighbourhood.
“We are delighted to have worked with HOPE and to have the Archbishop of Canterbury support this year’s Big Jubilee Lunch – part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations last weekend. Together we have encouraged hundreds of dioceses and churches across the UK to get involved in the Big Jubilee Lunch with their local community."
- Peter Stewart, Eden Project's campaigns and communications director
Peter Stewart, the Eden Project’s campaigns and communications director said: “At the heart of many communities, churches are fantastically placed to bring people together. The Big Lunch offers the chance for members to reach out to others in the community and put their faith into action.
“We are delighted to have worked with HOPE and to have the Archbishop of Canterbury support this year’s Big Jubilee Lunch - part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations last weekend. Together we have encouraged hundreds of dioceses and churches across the UK to get involved in the Big Jubilee Lunch with their local community. We hope that churches will continue to take part in the annual Big Lunch initiative for many years to come.”
Roy Crowne, HOPE’s executive director said: “HOPE’s aim is to help British churches to do more together in words and actions, sharing faith and building up local communities. The Big Jubilee Lunch fits our mandate perfectly, so we were thrilled to support and encourage churches throughout the country as they pitched in helping with community events and hosting thousands of street parties.”
HOPE provided free Jubilee resources and ideas to use in schools, with senior citizens and at neighbourhood street parties. A specially-written Diamond Jubilee Grace, which was seen by the Queen, was used at hundreds of Big Jubilee Lunches, and more than 655,000 copies of a specially-produced Diamond Jubilee New Testament were given away.
A street party planned by Croydon’s Ruskin Road New Life Christian Centre was moved into the centre’s main hall due to bad weather. Croydon’s Mayor dropped in and said he was stunned by the scale of the operation.
Kay McCabe, one of the organisers, said they had invited the local community and received 260 confirmed responses so cooked lunch for 300: “We experienced a loaves and fishes moment as by mid-afternoon we had fed over 1,000 people with a cooked meal and desert followed by cake and tea or coffee. We were overwhelmed by the response of the local community many commenting that ‘no-one has ever done anything like this’ for them.”
TV camera’s recorded the events as 5,000 people enjoyed a huge Big Jubilee Lunch in South Reading. The local Churches Together have become known for their family fun days and service to the community. As a result the council asked them to lead the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Visitors willingly took 2,000 Diamond Jubilee New Testaments from among sandwiches and quizzes set out on the tables stretching a quarter of a mile. A council representative who saw the army of church volunteers setting up before the event said she had a lump in her throat, she was so moved by the sense of purpose and fun.
Pastor Wunmi Oladunjoye, of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, started their Diamond Jubilee celebrations on London’s Old Kent Road by saying the Diamond Jubilee Grace before their buffet lunch. They used HOPE’s Big Thank You sheets so everyone could write a message of thanks or a prayer for the Queen, and they gave away copies of the Diamond Jubilee New Testament.
Pastor Lola Ayeni, said: “Despite the rain, we had an amazing time... Everyone that got the Jubilee New Testaments was delighted with their gift.”
In his sermon at the Diamond Jubilee Thanksgiving Service in St Paul’s Cathedral, the Archbishop of Canterbury hoped that the lasting memorial of the Diamond Jubilee would be a rebirth of “an energetic, generous spirit of dedication to the common good”.
Quoting Romans 12 he added: “’Outdo one another in showing honour, extend hospitality to strangers, rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep, live in harmony with one another...'”
HOPE is working with churches of all denominations and cultural backgrounds to make that vision a reality, encouraging churches to work together to build cohesive, hope-filled communities.
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