Outreach is a fundamental and key part of the Vision which God has for the members of St. Mary’s Church. Jesus gave a final command to His followers, at the end of His earthly mission:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
We believe the mission of the local church is to share the love of Jesus in real, practical and helpful ways, so that our communities can understand and respond to the good news for themselves, and in so doing see a developing transformation of society.
Each member of the body of Christ at St. Mary’s has a part to play, and we continue to be challenged as we grow individually and collectively to be the people of God who bring hope to Andover and out into the world, as we share this good news of Jesus. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15
Building on outreach activities over the past few years, such as After School Clubs, School Assemblies, Light Parties, Summer Holiday Clubs, Baptism follow up visits and courses; further development and mission continues. Tom Etherton has joined the Ministry Team as an Ordinand. A highly skilled musician, Tom already has extensive experience of working with children and young people, and is developing his own ministry skills through sharing in outreach activities.
The Men’s Group is well established with a significant number of men meeting monthly for soup and a roll followed by Bible Study. Social activities have included a Skittles Night at a local pub, a cricket match against another church, Pub Quiz nights, Barbecues and Prayer Breakfasts with guest speakers.
Members of St. Mary’s are well represented in Andover, with other church members offering Ministry to the Homeless, helping at the Night Shelter and to extend cover and activities on the day time initiatives. Hope into Action is an award-winning charity set up to enable churches to fight homelessness, and to change the lives of the most disadvantaged in our society by finding them homes rather than a bed for the night. Working together with other local Christians, members of St. Mary’s have played an important part in promoting, investing and achieving sufficient funding to have recently purchased a house in Andover. An ecumenical Support Team will now be set up and trained to help residents back into mainstream society.
Members from St. Mary’s have undergone the relevant training and are now exercising this ministry in the Town Centre, either as Street or Prayer Pastors. St. Mary’s was privileged to host the 5th Anniversary Celebrations as well as the Commissioning and Presentation of Caps, during a service on Wednesday 20th April 2016. Reverend Les Isaac, who was awarded an OBE for his work fostering community cohesion in his role as Head of Ascension Trust, the umbrella organisation that overseas the work of Street Pastors, spoke at the service.
Our Pastoral Ministry Team is growing, and is kept busy taking Holy Communion to a growing number of individuals and Residential Homes in the Parish. The Third Thursday Group offers support and encouragement to those who have in more recent years been bereaved. Greatly valued and appreciated for its quiet and sensitive approach, the group members enjoy discussion and support, good friendships and social activities together.
Alpha is an opportunity to explore life and the Christian faith, in a friendly, open and informal environment with the opportunity of enjoying supper as well! It is a series of interactive sessions that freely explore the basics of the Christian faith.
Guests come on Alpha for many different reasons; some want to investigate whether God exists and some have questions they would like to discuss. No question is out of bounds and you are free to discuss as much or as little as you wish.
Many guests have never been to church and others may have attended church, but feel they have never had a personal understanding of the Christian faith.
The future here under God is a privilege as we experience, understand and respond to the gospel ourselves, and as we respond to the needs of our local communities.