All Change Please! The Terminus Initiative

The Terminus Initiative started out as a community café in an ex-butcher’s shop at a bus terminus. From the beginning we sought to be a loving response to the needs of the local ‘Lowedges’ Estate community in Sheffield.

It was initially conceived out of unmet needs of a ‘mission audit’ completed by a local Methodist Church. To complete this, we went out into the estate to ask questions about what people thought the needs were. The most significant finding of the survey was that local people thought the church was irrelevant and had nothing to contribute. One of the greatest needs that people did identify was the need for a drop-in for older people to be able to come to meet people and socialise in safety, and also a place for younger people. At that time the estate was known for being a rough place with problems with drugs and anti-social behaviour. This coincided with an offer from the owner of the butcher’s shop to the Methodist church, to use his shop for something to help the community. I was asked if I would assist in the exploration of potential solutions to the meeting of these needs and sought other agencies to see if there were any opportunities for partnerships to be able to take on the shop for mission and ministry. So the vision for a community café gradually emerged.

I was one of the founding members of the initiative, as I was involved with it in the early days of my training for Methodist ministry. I quickly discerned that God was asking me to stay with the Terminus Initiative, which at the time was completely against the usual expectation of Methodist itinerant ministry. So I kept this discernment to myself (not even telling my husband) waiting for it to be confirmed by someone else to test it. Within a few weeks, our Superintendent Minister at the time, Ian Bell, asked me if I would consider staying on and co-ordinating the Initiative, but that there would be no money for a stipend. As I had retired early on a pension from the National Health Service, I decided I could cope, and committed to it.

The Terminus Initiative is now in its eighth year. The café is open three days a week, targeting different groups in need, and the premises are used by other community groups when the café is closed. The Terminus Initiative, with its other projects, has supported asylum seekers, refugees, drug users, people with alcohol addictions, people with mental health needs, young people and older people. In fact there are many social activities going on all the time including discussions, Bible studies, and prayer underpins it all.

In the many partnerships we have, we focus on the spiritual needs of those who come into the Terminus building. We hope that the work of the Initiative has challenged people’s perception of the church as ‘irrelevant’, replacing negative stereotypes with a greater respect for Christianity and the Church. We have seen many people seeking to explore the Christian faith coming out of the community and loving service they have experienced at the Terminus. Many of these people have gone on to discipleship groups of the partner churches, as we seek to be a committed local ‘mixed economy’ of church finding unity of purpose in mission.

We can hardly believe that we shall be celebrating eight years of The Terminus

Initiative in April 2010. In those eight years we have seen God answer many prayers and provide in unexpected ways. We plan to celebrate this birthday with a service of communion and rededication to be held in the Terminus Cafe, and we look forward to what God has in store for us in this coming year. Our desire and prayer is that the practical and social support offered through the Initiative will continue to be used by God to show his unconditional love as demonstrated through Jesus Christ. We long to see people’s lives transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Please pray for the Christian volunteers as they work in the various projects. Please pray for outreach activities - Whitfest 2010 - which will be part of our circuit’s Pentecost celebrations. Please pray as we apply for a further three years funding for the manager post from January 2011. The Terminus Initiative is a good example of what can be done regarding fresh expressions of church, when local churches work together and get their hands dirty.

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