Glyn and Emma – originally posted on 4th December 2010 on old blogspot site
Hi there, we are Glyn and Emma Moreton. Parents to Sam and Carys and still fairly new arrivals to Old Town Community Church (OTCC). We were missionaries with BMS World Mission for 8 years prior to returning to the UK last December (2009). One day we will add to the blog the story of how we came to return to the UK to OTCC!
On the 26/12/10 we will take on the leadership of OTCC from the present wonderful couple – Jo and Susie Marriott (very big shoes to fill!). It is an immense privilege to be in this position and be called by God to such an exciting (and scary) role in such an exciting (and scary) place! The following describes our impression of OTCC after nearly one year here…
What we have come to love about OTCC is the creativity, the diversity, and the fact that it isn’t a “well oiled machine” but a place of real, messy, beautiful, (often dysfunctional!) people that all love Jesus and want to live their lives for Him (so we fit right in!).
The focus on reaching the community is inspiring and refreshing – truly a church without walls! And the ways in which God has met with individuals here, through the outreach and friendships of OTCC attenders, is amazing. It is often said that if the stories and testimonies of the precious folks here were made in to a book – it would be a best-seller!
Having no church building can be a pain at times. But it is probably a blessing in disguise as we meet in totally accessible places like the community centre, the pub, and in homes around the estate. It is exciting that we are free from conforming to patterns of “how church should be done” as most of our folks don’t have many preconceived ideas about what church is and how it is “done” . This means we can explore and experiment with new ways of sharing the Good News. It is encouraging to be in a place that feels anything but “staid and static”. We have found OTCC to be organic, moving, breathing, and growing. Being in a relationship with the Living God means the Living God is impacting our lives and the lives of those on this estate.
OTCC is a safe place for some of society’s vulnerable people. This includes the addict, the abused, and the abandoned. The rough sleeper can come in and find a welcome, the depressed, and the “unacceptable” find understanding, respect and belonging. It is a place where masks can begin to be removed, wounded hearts gently opened, and healing encounters with the Living God experienced.
We are blessed to see first hand how God can take broken and battered lives and begin the process of restoration. We have read Henri Nouwen’s book “Wounded healers” and it is a privilege to see this in action. Those with wounded lives becoming the healers as they begin to love, care for, and serve others in the community. Compassion can be contagious! We believe that God is enough and that He is able to restore us. Yet in His wisdom, this process of restoration involves being “in community” (relationship) with those He has placed around us. Frequently we experience God’s comfort, love and involvement from people within the church as well as directly from Him. This helps us build strong, transparent relationships, and people coming in for the first time are often impacted by this sense of love and welcome.
Some highlights of this first “nearly year” would be getting to know the range of fabulous characters! 4 baptisms with amazing testimonies of transformation and encounters with God. Seeing people from the estate walking in to our meetings and experiencing God. Taking low / no income families off the estate here to a family centre at Hurstpierpoint for fun, bonding and friendship, planting bulbs in the rain on Central Avenue, holding a “light night” on Halloween (an alternative Halloween celebration) where we welcomed over 95 neighbours for hot chocolate and sky lanterns!, launching the “Dove group” for women to look at life issues and seeing many begin to experience change and transformation through the power of Jesus, going through Youth Alpha with the young people and much, much more!
Church is community, relationship, serving, loving, accepting, belonging, helping, laughing, crying, journeying, taking risks, and being open to the Holy Spirit. A place of hope, healing and new beginnings
A new season approaches…
So as said before 26th December 2010 Jo and Susie Marriott – the founders of OTCC – step down as leaders and begin a new season called “retirement”. Well, that is what it is known as, but we all know that God has plenty more for them – so don’t put your slippers on quite yet! And Glyn and Emma Moreton officially become the new pastors. This is a daunting time of transition but we have all been aware of how graciously God has been with us this past year. The leadership of OTCC is made up of 9 local people. One of these people (Stephen Brown) is also our community worker who is well versed in development. He works (often behind the scenes) in advocacy for individuals and for the estate, taking on the authorities and launching new initiatives in partnership with people on the estate.
Please see the OTCC web page for dates and times of the various events. Just to give you a “nut shell taster” we have Sunday services, once monthly evening gatherings, Care groups, Alpha courses, weekly prayer gatherings, A weekly drop in with bi-weekly lunches, and a number of ministries that are overseen by OTCC attenders including “Fat-fleshed” (a Christian outreach to homeless men and women in Eastbourne) and “Parche” (a ministry to the elderly). There are many different opportunities to serve and be involved!
Things we will be working on and aiming for:
So this next year as a church we will be:
- Launching a prayer room (well a prayer shed to be more precise!). Which will be available 24/7 for people to use as a place to connect with God through art, craft, poetry, music, silence or whatever aids them. We want to spread the virus of prayer!
- Launching “Unity” – a lady called Beccy has created a social group for those who would like to get together and do things from having coffee to learning salsa!!!
- We have already begun the “Discovery course” a Tearfund initiative which helps churches engage with their community. (Looking at the strengths of the church and the needs of the community and putting the 2 together). This course is run by Stephen and is named “GOOD NEWS IN OUR COMMUNITY”
- Furniture and clothes recycling project – OTCC has a furniture store which has proved invaluable for helping people setting up homes or in emergency situations. We are wanting to strengthen and expand this project. Needs volunteers!
- Working intentionally with the local Salvation Army – we are looking to work more closely together in our community in helping those in crisis situations have food parcels and a Christmas gift scheme for no income families. The salvation Army is well resourced and we have many contacts in need.
- Women’s and men’s activities – discipleship, growth, relationship’s through breakfasts, small group work etc. “Valiant man” course for men and “woman to woman” for the gals.
- Strengthening the youth work – working with other churches holding joint youth events, training the youth to run Youth Alpha, attend Soul Survivor, etc. Needs Volunteers!
- Knowles Tooth – we will once again be taking a group of families to the family centre at Hurtpierpoint. This is a unique time for those in difficult situations to enjoy quality time together in a positive environment. If you are interested or know people who may be eligible from the Old Town estate please let us know.
So this next year should be exciting!
Prayer points –
1/ Please pray for this time of transition for the leadership team and the attenders of OTCC. We are asking God for a smooth change over.
2/ Please pray for all the existing and new initiatives – we want to walk in step with what God is doing in this area.
3/ We desire to have good relationships with other local church leaders and intentionally meet together on a regular basis. Please pray for this to continue as Glyn and Emma take over from Jo and Susie.
4/ We are passionate about seeing people on our patch come to know and love Jesus as their Lord and saviour. Please pray that we will see more and more people discovering the GOOD NEWS IN OUR COMMUNITY!
Please contact Glyn or Emma Moreton for further information on anything written in this blog. You are very, very welcome to visit us and hope you will.
From Glyn and Emma Moreton and all in the OTCC family