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Small groups are the answer

Many of us are familiar with joining small house groups at Advent or Easter to reflect on our faith. But the team at St Peter’s Hersham have taken it much further.

“One of the key objectives for our Church Development Plan was to build a deepening faith,” says the Revd Jackie Richardson, vicar of St Peter’s.

The church runs a number of regular groups, allowing participants, at whatever stage on the faith journey they are, an opportunity to come together, to worship, explore, pray, witness and reflect together.  

“We’d only ever had small groups at Lent or Advent before, “ says Jackie. “We wanted regular groups to help establish growing disciples, focusing on whole life spirituality rather than just church attendance,” she says. 

The church has now run four Alpha groups with 50 people involved.  One Alpha group was in a retirement village, including ten participants, of all denominations, meeting in a social club conservatory. One participant has already gone on to confirmation in the Church.

But the Alpha groups threw up other questions. How and where do we start with the Bible? 

So the church put on a Bible Course and then an examination of Paul’s letter to the Romans, to answer those questions.

The groups needed leaders. The diocese, through the Mission Enabler team, was able to run a leadership workshop for the parish. Fourteen people attended who can now lead small groups in their homes. 

“I enjoyed the opportunity of discussing and exploring faith with others in an easy open way,” says Andrew, one of the new leaders.

Caroline, another workshop participant says, “I am new to this journey and felt the course enlightened especially through the discussions with other members of the group. It has inspired me to continue on my journey and to delve into my spirituality and faith.” 

“We found that the workshop gave each of us the confidence to lead groups,” says Jackie. “You don't need to know everything, just what questions to ask.”

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