Talking about Church…and ice cream!

04 August 2021

Vincent and Wilfrid are two buses from which The Ark Bus provides alternative ways of sharing God’s love and demonstrating faith. Through the medium of ice-cream Jenny Bourne, the co-ordinator for this pioneering project, explains more!


When you think of the word Church what thoughts first spring to mind, I wonder? Is it just a building, a closed community, an out-of-date religious institution, and something that is irrelevant to many ordinary lives? Worse still has it attached to it a sense of hierarchy and superiority that has caused harm through history? The word has become synonymous with so much baggage it is often difficult to work out what being a Church is about. Often what Church could and should be, has been buried under rules, procedures, and rotas.

The thinking behind the Ark Bus project

Can you imagine if the only flavour of ice cream that was ever available was mint choc chip? Now of course, for some people, that would be ideal as they love mint choc chip. Some people may learn to like mint choc chip but only because there were no alternatives and other people would just never ever eat it, experience, or try ice cream because they disliked that flavour or the thought of it so much. Some people may even get bored with mint choc chip and wonder if there were more possibilities. In fact, the freezer aisle of shops would be far less busy as people who did not like mint choc chip ice cream would not even bother to walk up it – why would you there is only mint choc chip! 

Of course, some clever people through history realised that people wanted other favours and experimented with ingredients and thankfully, we are faced with an array of flavours and varieties of ice- cream - whoever would have thought that bubble gum would become a flavour! To add to this, there are sauces, sprinkles, and flavoured cones (or just a tub) that give us different experiences of ice cream. Ice cream can even be served hot in a baked Alaska! You can now also find ice cream that is made of soya or coconut milk, yogurt and it can be found in smoothies and milkshakes…Pioneers of ice-cream development have made sure that it has stayed as relevant and as appealing to generations today as it was back when a cone with a flake was considered ‘new’.

When considering the Church, we wonder whether it has become defined entirely by one dominant expression (worship normally done in a building) that is enjoyed by some and irrelevant to others, it has become like only having mint choc chip ice-cream, completely unappealing for many?

At the Ark we long to see other flavours of Church. We don’t want to get rid or replace the mint choc chip version of Church, but our desire is that ordinary people who are creatives, innovators, pioneers, or those who just feel that there may be another way of doing faith can discover a colourful array of expressing what it means to them to be Church.  God does not only hang about in a building, nor is his love reserved for only some people. We want to find the freezer aisle of life full of people and join with them in searching for their expression of faith, their sense of meaning and connecting with a God who loves them in ways that are meaningful and full of surprises.                                           

Who are we?


At the Ark we are passionate about pioneering new forms of Church that are places of hope and inspire journeys of transformation. Our aim is that they are places where people can belong and explore what it means to be part of this wonderful and confusing world. Our hope is that they will be spaces where people can meet with God and encounter the wonders of God’s abundant love for each one of us in different and surprising ways.

We believe in radical hospitality, unconditional welcome and we are committed to building relationships based on trust and mutual respect. We aim to be present to all people whatever their backgrounds or faith experience and look to encourage and foster a sense of curiosity and a space where people are free to explore and ask questions about God.  It is our aim to explore more unconventional ways of worship and engagement with faith, with the intention of investing in flourishing relationships that enable energising Jesus centred communities to be imagined and developed.

We are part of the Methodist Church and seek to take with us the rich values of this tradition whilst continually asking what it means to be Church in the world in which we live now.

Connect with the Ark bus here.

Find out more about our pioneering pathways here.