“Night Church” shines in the darkness
ANOTHER HASTINGS CHURCH NOW OFFERS HOT SOUP AND SPIRITUAL RESPITE TO SATURDAY NIGHT REVELLERS WHO MAY BE FEELING A BIT TIRED AND EMOTIONAL. Keith Leech reports on his church’s new venture in Hastings. Night Church opened on 15 March and is held monthly on the third Saturday.
Having seen the success of Night Church in Hastings town centre, we in the Hastings Old Town parish of St Clement with All Saints felt there was a need at this end of town to serve the evening economy.
As a parish we have been looking for some form of Christian outreach and felt that this may prove to be a good idea. As a quiet parish with Anglo Catholic leanings we felt it may not work, but it has been a great success and has fired up the congregation. After visiting Holy Trinity and getting some very useful advice we went ahead with some trepidation for our first venture at St Clements on 15 March.
We got there early to set everything up with disco lighting and quiet worship music and then opened the doors. Some of us were on the street telling people what was happening and others inside making tea and coffee, hot soup was left over from our coffee morning too. It was great to welcome fellow Christians from around the town who had come to offer support.
There was a steady trickle of people, forty in total. We had no idea who to expect but there were people of all ages, not just the young. Some just came in to be curious others to be still and light a candle and others who really needed somebody to talk to. One elderly couple were here on holiday. They had sadly buried their best friend the day before they went away and had found the funeral lacking in something. They had come in to sit peacefully and came to thank us saying that they had found comfort and found God. To them it felt like it was ‘meant to be’ and they asked that we share their story.
Others were troubled in various ways and all had a helping hand or a listening ear. At the end of the evening we sat and shared our experiences and thanked God for bringing us to this point. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit is moving in Hastings Old Town and am overwhelmed at how things are transforming so quickly. We are even having a Lent group in a local pub.
We decided that we would continue the Old Town Night Church on the third Sunday of the month therefore complementing the Night Church in the town centre. Already some young people have said it will be good to have two places to go in a month, so now we just need two more parishes to do likewise!
Somehow most of us managed to get to church the following morning because we had things to do like the readings or serving, but we were all tired, albeit in a pleasant way. We now hope that the idea will spread across Sussex. Our next Night Church is on Easter Eve and we all will definitely need to be up the following morning! We have also asked God for help to share the load and would be very pleased to welcome other Christians who may be able to spare some time, or who are night owls. Anybody who could go on a rota can contact the parish office on 01424 422242 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch.
Keith Leech is 59 and a science teacher. He is also a member of his church’s PCC, the church’s health and safety officer and serves at the altar as an acolyte and thrurifer. He is the founder of the Hastings Jack in the Green and Hastings Bonfire and carried the Olympic Torch into Hastings Old Town. He says, “I felt called to use these skills to bring more people to Christ.”
HEART of Hastings and St Leonard’s
Thanks to Katie Harrison of His Place Community Church for providing photos and news from Hastings and St Leonard’s. Some of the information can be found in the local Unity News produced by Hastings and St Leonard’s Churches Together.