Sunday 19th January 2014 saw members of Tamworth’s Covenanting Churches (TCC) crowd into St Editha’s Church, Tamworth to celebrate the many social action projects engaged on in the town and to commission Tamworth Street Angels. The were joined by representatives from national and local government, Chris Pincher MP and his Worship John Garner, the Mayor of Tamworth and representatives of church denominations – Rev Adrian Argile (Baptist Church Regional Minister), Revd Ian Howarth (Methodist Church, Chair of the Birmingham District) and the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill (Bishop of Lichfield). Led by the Acting Vicar of Tamworth, Rev Vic Van Den Bergh, the service provided an opportunity for the many Christians in the town to celebrate the social action and pastoral engagement that is done together and to hear from some of them and the work that they do.
Rev Dr Steve Jonathan (Tamworth Elim) spoke of the work of the Tamworth Foodbank, outlining how since it began some two years ago how it has provided some seventeen tonnes of food and how this represented the feeding of fourteen people every since the work began. Steve went on to explain how those who came were not homeless but were generally families who have hit hard times, been made redundant, suffered from illness or were experiencing benefit delay: these represent a good cross-section of the UK’s hidden hungry. He continued by celebrating the work of the many volunteers and the coordinator: Lynn Le Worthy. The Rev Graham Criddle, minister of Tamworth Baptist Church, prayed for the work of Foodbank:
Next up was Jean Taylor who spoke about the work of the Starfish Project – a work that began in March 2006 to provides support for those who have been troubled by addiction and other issues. The work has expanded to three sites – St Editha’s in the centre of town, St Andrew’s in the Leyfields area and St Martin’s in Stonydelph and sees a number of people helped by a wide volunteer base representing all the churches. The Rev Ian Howarth prayed for this work.
Following on we heard from Rev Mike Harris (St Editha’s, Amington) who spoke about the TCHA (Tamworth Christian Housing Association) which, since the early nineties has provided accommodation for thirty young people between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five years of age and has recently, with the support of Tamworth Borough Council, gained Housing Corporation financial support.
The work has recently expanded in the shape of the ‘New School’ which offers education to exam standards (GCSE) for those who don’t ‘do’ school. Essentially it is a small independent school (OFSTED approved), which takes in secondary age pupils who are struggling in mainstream education and are considered ‘non school attenders’. They come from many of the secondary schools and Academies in Tamworth and often flourish in this environment. It is a privilege to attend their Leavers Assembly along with parents (some) to witness the steps they’ve taken and the awards they’ve achieved.
This is a key work that re-engages young people with education and a future and gives them the opportunity to live in safe and supportive surroundings to re-establish themselves on the home front too – The work was prayed for by the rev Hugh Baker, former Vicar of Fazeley:
The final work represented was that of Tamworth’s Christians Against Poverty and Sue Silcock who is the lead for this ministry delivered this.
Working out of Tamworth Baptist Church’s building in Belgrave sue spoke of some thirteen years of ministry working with people in their homes to help families establish budgets and discharge their debts. Sue told of how one family with debts of £53,000 had been helped and how, six years on, they would be debt free by the summer. This is one of the seven hundred families helped over the thirteen years of this ministry. The Rev Adrian Argile prayed for the ministry:
Having celebrated the work of the Christians in the town the congregation was led in a confession of faith and a reaffirming of the covenant to work together by Fr Noel N’tungu, one of the clergy from the team serving the Catholic churches of our town:
Paul Blakey MBE, the founder of Street Angels gave the address, during which he spoke of the opportunities Street Angels presented to change our community and to help those who might otherwise struggle to be kept safe as we shared in an expression of God’s love to the community. He pointed to the many areas of social engagement that were changing the lives of those in Tamworth and celebrated the work that Christians can do when they work together.
The Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill who prayed for and commissioned the Street Angels followed the address and as he did he also challenged the Christians of Tamworth to pray for and offer support for this valuable work.
After the service, some of the Street Angels took the opportunity to have a photograph with the various representatives present:
L-R: Revd Ian Howarth, Chris Pincher MP, Rev Adrian Argile, Wendy Van Den Bergh, Andrea Treadwell, Carol Higgs, David Cooley, Andy Bradshaw, Rev Vic Van Den Bergh, Martin Johnson, Emma Cooley, Mary Wilson, Tim Flowers, Fil Comley, Paul Blakey MBE, Michelle Bayley, Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill, The Wp John Garner
The music team were made up of four different churches (ably assisted by St Editha’s rather fine choir): Rev Ray Khan (Curate, St Editha’s Tamworth), Rev Matt Malins (Curate, St George’s Glascote), Michael Coleman (Coton Church) and Mark Widdas (St Editha’s, Amington)
Video link to Paul Blakey speaking to Churches Together groups about starting a new Street Angels group.