December 20, 2019 11.14 am This story is over 52 months old

Community Voices: Ross Ferguson – Bringing communities together with food

Easting together and finding common ground

Ross is a local Pastor of Lincoln Baptist Church, serving the needs of the Monks Abbey community. He is a father of three, husband and an advocate for those in need.

Everyone enjoys a good meal! Especially if it is combined with good company! The question is, how does a simple meal promote and improve our communities? Let me tell you about a recent experience of mine as a way of answering.

I attended a conference in Torquay a few weeks ago, as part of my role; I often attend such conferences. However, this one was different. Instead of simply turning up to lectures and seminars, this conference is somewhat residential. Every lunch and dinner is a chance for all 1,000 delegates to join together in the main hall and eat a meal together. What was different from, say, a wedding, was a lack of seating plan. You simply walked in, sat down and you were served a meal.

As someone who doesn’t enjoy small talk, I was a little nervous; I had to sit next to people I had never met! However, at each mealtime, I sat and quickly found myself deep in conversation with strangers, who soon became friends. In fact, on one occasion, tired after several lectures, I tried to hide in the corner to eat my lunch. Within minutes a Scottish couple came and sat with me and we were soon in deep discussion. The odd thing was, even though we didn’t know each other, we had gathered for a common cause. It was this common cause that we were able to talk about, laugh over, cry over and debate over.

As a church, Lincoln Baptist Church (on Croft Street) has a vision and a set of values. Our values are based on a passage in the Bible called ‘the fellowship of believers’. In these verses, we read that the first church saw fellowship (that is sitting and having a meal together) essential to a healthy church. It is for this reason that, as a church, we often have times of fellowship. We recently had a ‘fish and chips evening’, raising funds for Tearfund. On the second Sunday of each month, nearly 100 of our members sit down after the church service for a meal together. We serve refreshments before and after our Sunday service. And importantly, we ensure we feed those in need, providing meals Monday to Friday through our LIFT ministry. We fellowship together; it is vital to our church.

What I have found is, these times of fellowship are invaluable. They bring communities together. They give chances to laugh, cry and talk. People make new friends and find common ground and interests. In my last column, I wrote of the unexpected neighbour. It is at these fellowship meals that many unexpected connections occur – the young student teaching an older man how to use his phone and a homeless lady and a little girl sharing their love of horses.

Why do I write about these ‘fellowship’ times? As a community church, we want to invite you to join us. Everyone is welcome! If you are nervous, never been to church, or it’s been a while, why not come along on Sundays at 10am when we begin serving refreshments before the 10:30 service. You will meet new friends and church will seem less scary.

We are also excited for Christmas and would like to invite you to our Christingle service on Christmas Eve, starting at 4pm. We will be serving hot chocolate and making Christingles.

Community is about fellowship, eating together and finding common ground.

Ross is a local Pastor of Lincoln Baptist Church, serving the needs of the Monks Abbey community. He is a father of three, husband and an advocate for those in need.