What would your church look like, if it opened its doors to the community and reached out with a compassionate heart, in response to their presenting needs? Whilst you are taking a moment to think about that question, let me share with you what the Stanborough Park Church has been doing over the years.
Stanborough Park Church has a rich history of meeting community needs for well over 60 years. At any given time, you will find the church feeding the homeless, funding overseas missions, undertaking international mission projects, running soups kitchens, putting on fund raising concerts and events for local and international charities, delivering Messy Church and opening their premises for community groups. Their reach, influence and impact has been significant.
So why take on a new initiative when the church is already so active? Good question. Let me answer that. Being ‘relevant’ means that even when your church calendar is full, and members are engaging actively, you adjust to meet the urgent presenting needs in your community.
Here’s another question. Is it even possible to be fully functional in the community during the current lockdown?
With the dawn of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, the One Vision Project (an initiative of Enoch Kanagaraj, member of Stanborough Park Church) already active in the community, decided to see what they could do to minister to their community.
The idea of Stanborough Park Church becoming a Hub, was birthed by engaging the membership and drawing on the work of One Vision and its 42 charity representatives. Becoming a Hub means that Stanborough Park church will now minister to and meet the wellbeing needs of their community in the aftermath of the pandemic and the current lockdown and its consequences.
A brief interview with Enoch Kanagaraj gave more insight:
Sharon – Enoch, please share with us the thinking behind the development of the Stanborough Park Hub.
Enoch - The hub will serve the needs in our community during the difficult time. I see the hub as a ‘rescue’ for those in need, both for our Adventist members and non-Adventists alike. We want to meet the needs of the common people.
Sharon – That’s great. I watched the launch event via my mobile phone and saw the wide range of charities represented. What did the event mean for you and how do you feel Stanborough Park Hub will meet the needs of the ‘common people’, as you put it?
Enoch – I was excited to see all the charities and community heads coming together to meet the needs of the vulnerable and disadvantaged in our local community. We will be delivering hot meals to those indicating they are in need of this service.
Sharon – As you know, when I thought of creating a Convalesce project to assist those recovering from COVID-19, One Vision was the first entity I thought of to help us deliver the operational aspect of the project. I was also thrilled that Stanborough Park would be our first Hub to deliver Phase 1 of the project. What were your thoughts on Stanborough Park being chosen as the first hub?
Enoch - I am very excited that Stanborough Park, through the work of One Vision, will be working in partnership with the BUC Health Ministries to deliver the ‘Restoration’ Convalescence Project. This is a very appropriate initiative and most needed to support the people who may have lost hope or have lost their faith and courage because of COVID-19 and the challenges it brings. One Vision has been working in collaboration with the BUC through their Health Ministries and Community Services department, so I see this latest development working as an extension of that partnership.
Sharon – What are some of the activities Stanborough Park Hub will deliver as they partner with the BUC Health Ministries Convalescence Project?
Enoch – We will be cooking the meals on site and delivering hot meals, on a daily basis, to those on our list who are recovering at home from COVID-19. We will also be doing shopping for them and delivering these goods once the Wellness Boxes and bags are compiled. The BUC Health Ministries department have also purchased a large quantity of books on wellbeing which will form part of the delivery as well. All this will be put together on site at the Stanborough Park Hub.
The launch event of the Stanborough Park Hub took place on Thursday 30 April at 2pm.
Attending the launch (some watching via their media modes, and contributing virtually) were the following:
- Enoch Kanagaraj- Chairman, One Vision Project
- Dean Russell - MP for Watford
- Peter Taylor - Elected Mayor for Watford
- Cllr Rabi Martins - Mental Health Champion
- Asif Khan - Chairman Watford Borough Council
- Cllr Liz Burns - CEO Veterans Support Service and War Widows’ Association
- Pastor Terry Messenger - Senior Pastor, Stanborough Park Church
- Richard Goates – President, Watford Rotary Club
- Harjit Singh – Chairman, Watford Interfaith Association
- Earl Ramharacksingh – BUC Treasurer
- Sharon Platt-McDonald – BUC Director for Health, Women’s Ministries & Adventist Community Services
As with most events, whilst listening keenly to the presenting speakers, there are always ‘take home’ messages or quotes that stand out, encapsulating the message for the day. It was noted that perhaps one of the most profound quotes at the launch, came from MP Dean Russell when he explained the work of the Stanborough Park Hub and the service it would deliver through One Vision. Estimating the impact the Hub would make and the people it would reach, he concluded: "Loneliness, should not have a place to hide."
With the launch of the Stanborough Park Hub, loneliness will have no hiding place, as the church extends a befriending arm, reaching out and becoming salt and light to its neighbouring communities. The Hub and its volunteers are ‘salt’ as they bring flavour, by their nurturing acts of kindness, to the lives of individuals. They are ‘light’ as they illuminate the lives of those hiding in the shadows, bringing sunshine to drive out the darkness of their life experiences, and helping them out into the open.
Yes, Stanborough Park Hub has lit a bright candle that shines through the gloomy clouds that the COVID-19 Coronavirus has left on the landscape. They are a beacon of hope and a testament to the practical gospel that Jesus intends our Christian witness to be.
"In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." Matthew 5:16 (NLT)
To view the launch programme, please click on the link below: