Evangelisation in England today – a personal experience
An article by Mary Bradley about FPCT’s Door-to-Door visiting programme and other activities, published in the Medical Missionaries for Mary International Newsletter for August 2015:
MMM Associate Mary Bradley lives in Falmouth, in Cornwall, England. She described some of the activities in which she is involved in her local parish, Saint Mary Immaculate, and beyond. The various Churches in her area have taken an ecumenical approach: Falmouth and Penryn Churches Together. This approach echoes one of the Calls of our recent MMM Chapter:
– “To be agents of peace, healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and of non-violent living within our communities and in the wider society;
– To deepen our understanding and respect for different faiths.”
Mary told us: “In 2013, an ecumenical mission, Walk Cornwall, took place in which teams of missioners from various parts of the country came to ‘walk the high roads and byways of Cornwall,’ proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel. They met with people from local churches. Thirteen of our parishioners visited the streets of Falmouth. There was surprise that Roman Catholics were participating. As a sequel, seven of us, including our parish priest, go out as part of an ecumenical team on Saturday mornings.”
The joy of the Gospel
“Door to door visiting is a rewarding task. It enables us to reach people where they are, proclaiming the Good News, when in the media all one hears is bad news…We take a ‘neighbourhood pack’ with us, containing a local map of churches, times of service, one of the Gospels, and a little booklet Knowing God Personally. We use a short survey of beliefs as a starter to conversation. Often people are interested and eager to participate.
“Basically, the survey has five questions, with a selection of answers.
1. Do you believe in some kind of God?
2. What do you believe happens at the end of our lives?
3. What do you believe about Jesus Christ?
4. If you could ask God one question, what would it be? The usual answer is: ‘Why is there so much suffering in the world?’
5. If you could know God personally, would you be interested?
“Before going out, we meet for prayer and a ‘cuppa’. We thank and praise God for his many blessings and we pray for those to be visited. We ask God to prepare our way: that we may be open to the Spirit and be given wisdom, compassion and understanding for those we meet. We go out in two’s and two of the team remain praying at home base.
“Yesterday it seemed our prayer at base was fruitful. Many people completed the beliefs’ survey and good conversations took place. Missioners often ask if a person would like prayer for anything or anyone. Often this is welcomed. Sometimes people are glad to see the local church and ask to be put in touch again with the church of their denomination.
“Often the housebound and disabled are just glad to see a friendly face and have a chat. There is much loneliness and isolation among elderly people in our locality. We frequently meet students from our local university who talk about re-incarnation, scientific ideas of a force of energy, and who are searching for meaning in their lives. We meet atheists, agnostics, people who have been hurt by the Church, and those who are suffering.
“At the end of the morning we gather back at base, giving thanks for the privilege of walking the streets for Jesus and sharing experiences. We pray especially for those we met and their needs.”
Support from each other
“Like the others from Saint Mary’s, I have learned much from going forth with our Christian friends of other denominations. My faith has been strengthened, as has my willingness and joy in humbly walking our streets and meeting the people of our local community.”
Mary is involved in other activities with Falmouth and Penryn Churches Together.
The Justice and Peace Action Group has members from five denominations. In the past year they attended the Modern Slavery Study Day. They wrote to local MPs about Syrian refugees and to members of the European Parliament about the effects of the new EU Common Agricultural Policy on sugar producers in poor countries.
In May, several members of Saint Mary’s and a Quaker came together to re-launch Fairtrade Falmouth. Many workers in developing countries find it difficult to provide for their families due to poor market access, monopoly of big corporations, unfair prices, etc. Often the amount they receive does not cover the cost of production. With Fairtrade, workers receive decent wages and a little extra premium to invest in business and community initiatives, e.g. healthcare, safe working conditions, education, or co-operatives.
Mary and her friends have taken to heart the words of Pope Francis in Laudato Si: “We Christians ask for inspiration to take up the commitment to creation set before us by the Gospel of Jesus” (246).