Pastors take to the beaches to support coastal night life


Volunteer 'Street Pastors' will take to Whitstable's beaches onFriday nights throughout the summer in what is believed to be thenation's first ever scheme of its kind to operate on the beach.

The Street Pastors are not there to evangelise or convert peopleto Christianity, but to offer support to Whitstable's night timebeach goers. Throughout the summer, they will wander the beaches,offering assistance to anyone who needs it. That may involve givingaway water or flip flops, helping people to get a taxi home, orsimply proving a listening ear.

All of Whitstable's 14 churches have joined forces to put thepastors on the beaches after the idea was hatched by the localpolice and Tankerton Evangelical Church. They identified a problemwith young people drinking on the beaches at night and makingthemselves vulnerable.

Lee Russell, Co-ordinator, says, "We are really grateful for thesupport 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 theRevd Helen Letley, Minister of St John's Methodist Church. "This isabout discipleship in action and demonstrating who we are asChristian people, so offering God's love in terms of activeassistance."

Street Pastor schemes, set up and supported by the AscensionTrust, are widespread, with over 10,000 trained volunteers inaround 250 teams throughout the UK. But this is believed to be thefirst project to put pastors on Britain's beaches. Pastors receivea full 12 days of training, which includes sea safety.

"My dream is that this is a good news story in our town," saidthe Revd Steve Coneys, Team Rector at Whitstable. "This issomething which round the country seems to be received asunambiguously good news. Ordinary people get this."

The scheme will launch at a service at 7pm on Friday 20 July atSt John's Methodist Church, Argyle Road, Whitstable. 

Listen to Helen Letley and Steve Coneys talking about Whitable'sStreet Pastors scheme here. 

Hi-res photos of the Whitstable Street Pastors, Steve Coneys andHelen Letley are available to download here.