Pastors take to the beaches to support coastal night life
16 July 2012
Volunteer 'Street Pastors' will take to Whitstable's beaches on
Friday nights throughout the summer in what is believed to be the
nation's first ever scheme of its kind to operate on the beach.
The Street Pastors are not there to evangelise or convert people
to Christianity, but to offer support to Whitstable's night time
beach goers. Throughout the summer, they will wander the beaches,
offering assistance to anyone who needs it. That may involve giving
away water or flip flops, helping people to get a taxi home, or
simply proving a listening ear.
All of Whitstable's 14 churches have joined forces to put the
pastors on the beaches after the idea was hatched by the local
police and Tankerton Evangelical Church. They identified a problem
with young people drinking on the beaches at night and making
Lee Russell, Co-ordinator, says, "We are really grateful for the
support of all the churches working together, in providing pastors,
members of the prayer team, and financial backing."
"It's a fantastic thing having this common vision," added the
Revd Helen Letley, Minister of St John's Methodist Church. "This is
about discipleship in action and demonstrating who we are as
Christian people, so offering God's love in terms of active
Street Pastor schemes, set up and supported by the Ascension
Trust, are widespread, with over 10,000 trained volunteers in
around 250 teams throughout the UK. But this is believed to be the
first project to put pastors on Britain's beaches. Pastors receive
a full 12 days of training, which includes sea safety.
"My dream is that this is a good news story in our town," said
the Revd Steve Coneys, Team Rector at Whitstable. "This is
something which round the country seems to be received as
unambiguously good news. Ordinary people get this."
The scheme will launch at a service at 7pm on Friday 20 July at
St John's Methodist Church, Argyle Road, Whitstable.
Listen to Helen Letley and Steve Coneys talking about Whitable's
Street Pastors scheme here.
Hi-res photos of the Whitstable Street Pastors, Steve Coneys and
Helen Letley are available to download here.