Explorers in Mansfield
For the last couple of years, the Bridge Street Methodist Church in Mansfield has run a weekly “Explorer’s” group. In that time five participants have committed themselves to Christ. Two of those have become members of the church. The other three worship at other churches while continuing to meet as part of the group. The group is largely made up of present and past clients of the church’s soup kitchen along with some congregation members.
The minister, John Yarrien, explains that it is sometimes an up and down journey, and is always a work in progress. But, he says, “It’s a really exciting project, reaching very vulnerable members of our community, and gently discipling them into a faith journey and relationship with God”.
The group meets every Tuesday from 6pm. They begin by praying together, then tackle a Bible reading or particular Biblical character, and end with a shared meal. The group really enjoy getting into the detail of the characters and events. They are provided with their own copies of the Bible and scrapbooks in which they put the readings, maps or stories that are covered in each session, so they have a record of what is covered each week. During festival seasons the group reflects on the meanings, symbols, and music of those seasons, so that they get grounded in the liturgical year.
The Rev’d Yarrien says, “We have seen huge and dramatic change in several of the group over the time it’s been running; some have stabilised in supported housing and are continuing their journey of recovery (as well as exploring faith); some have made the commitment to come off drugs or alcohol, and because of the regularity of the group we do believe it’s helped some to keep on track with that goal.”