At the Worship Together service at Sheriff Hill on Sunday 17th April we listened to Joan Stewart, her husband Bob and sister, Carol, talking about their work as volunteers with the Street Pastors in Newcastle. They are part of a team of volunteers who take it in turns to spend Friday and Saturday evenings between 10pm and 4am patrolling the streets around the Bigg Market and the Quayside where thousands of party goers flock to each weekend. Street Pastors1 were established in London in 2003 and operate now in many towns and cities across the UK. They provide help and support for revellers who find themselves vulnerable or in trouble. Street Pastors work closely with police, emergency services and night club door staff. The work of Street Pastors is highly valued by all these agencies.
The team of Street Pastors in Newcastle are drawn from 40 churches and is a living, practical testimony of God’s grace in action. The theme for District Spring Synod recently was that of ‘Radical Hospitality’. Such hospitality is defined as, ‘that which is drastically different from ordinary practices, outside the normal, that which exceeds expectations and goes the second mile.’ It would seem to me that Street Pastors is a great example of Radical Hospitality. The Gateshead Food bank is another.
Radical Hospitality is one of the hallmarks of a fruitful congregation2and should be one of our highest aims. The church we worship in is never ‘our church’ it is always Christ’s church and as those who are involved in the life of the church right now we have been entrusted with ensuring that at the very least we are a congregation who practise Radical Hospitality.
Grace and Peace
2 Five practices of fruitful congregations – Robert Schnase