Soul Food celebrates 10 years
To mark Soul Food’s success, church members, staff, local residents and the Archdeacon of Bath, the Ven Andy Piggott, gathered for a special 10th birthday celebration last Sunday to give testimony and thanks for the last ten years. Not wanting to follow the national trend of seeing attendance figures fall, Revd Matthew Street introduced Soul Food, a contemporary service that sought to focus more on those attending rather than on the service itself. With modern worship music, an opportunity to share personal testimony and a bring-and-share meal at the end, Soul Food proved to be a big hit!
Commenting on the initiative’s success, Revd Matthew Street said:“The Christian message is for everyone, but too often people feel put off coming to church because of customs or traditions they are not familiar with. When Soul Food was introduced we decided to make sure it was as informal and relaxed as it possibly could be.
“An amazing ten years later, we are extremely thankful that this alternative style of church has proved to be so popular.” With attendance figures often exceeding 100 every week, during last Sunday’s Soul Food at Peasedown Youth Centre a special celebration was held to mark some of the initiatives key achievements over the past decade, which have included:
- 360 church-led school assemblies in Peasedown St John Primary School and the surrounding villages
- 600 local children attending 18 school holiday clubs
- £75,000 being raised by church members to donate to local, national and international Christian charities
- The establishment of the Somer Valley Foodbank
- 750 children attending the church’s after school club at Peasedown St John Primary School, since 2009
- 500 prayer meetings – all of which have included prayers for the local community
- 23 baptisms by full immersion
Research shows that the average size of an Anglican congregation in rural areas has fallen dramatically over the last ten years to just 14 people. St John’s Church, however, now has 80-100 attending its services each Sunday.