When the Stranger says: ‘What is the meaning of this city?
Do you huddle close together because you love one another?’
What will you answer? ‘We all dwell together
To make money from each other’? or ‘This is a community’? T.S Eliot, The Rock
St John’s has worked for close on 50 years with other City Centre churches on ecumenical outreach projects. From the 1960s, The Council of West End Churches undertook initiatives like the Cephas Cellar for young people, the Cornerstone late-night Coffee House and a residence for homeless young people. Later it initiated the Rock Trust, now a thriving Charity for the homeless between 16 and 25, and has shared in a number of initiatives to reach out to the business community. In recent years this was continued in ‘West End Churches Together’, which then in 2008 became ‘City Centre Churches Together’, to include St Andrews and St George’s Church in George Street, which soon merged with another church in the partnership, St George’s West.
The churches in ‘Together’ (as it is now generally known) today aim to sustain existing activities like the outreach to homeless people and relief work abroad (via Christian Aid), and also to encourage interest groups involving members of all three churches. Together continues to support Just Festival and provides financial assistance to Outreach to the Arts through the Greenside Initiative led by Rev David Todd. The Rev David Hart has become the new city centre workplace chaplain since Rev Tony Bryer has retired.
‘Together’, though it has such a long tradition behind it, is as such a new body, and its ideas for future collaboration are still evolving. Our hope is that we shall be a strong witness in the future to the readiness of the churches to work together, and of the Church to be involved in the City.
The Together project which probably has had the widest impact in the past years has been the Pilgrim for and Hour concept. This has caught the imagination of churches across Britain and Ireland.