Projects to make church less formal successful in helping people explore faith
PUBLISHED: 13:57 10 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:57 10 June 2019
A new faith project which involves people meeting in small groups in homes, pubs, offices, schools and other places is helping to boost the number of people involved with church in Suffolk.
Lightwave, a countywide Christian community, is seeing people come together to discover God in a variety of different settings and ways, not necessarily on a Sunday, but complementing traditional worship in church buildings.
The Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, said: "Lightwave are small groups of people coming together to support each other and to put faith to work in practical care for friends and neighbours and those in need in our villages. Each group exists to show and share God's love wherever they are."
Rt Rev Dr Mike Harrison, Bishop of Dunwich, added: "Our aim is that people who find Sunday worship too formal or structured for them, especially younger generations and those unused to traditional forms of church, will find Lightwave to be somewhere where they can find friends to explore the journey of faith.
"Some people would not be part of a church at all if it were not for Lightwave.
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"Lightwave enables those who cannot get to a Sunday service to be fully included in a community based on Christian faith."
The Bishops have been travelling across the county to schools, cafés, youth groups, shows, and churches to celebrate new ways of living faith inspiring people to join the church.
On Sunday Bishop Martin visited new initiatives flourishing at Red Lodge, Euston, Thorndon, Rattlesden, and Hessett.
The same day Bishop Mike was at Thorpeness for an outdoor service and breakfast, in Beccles for a relaxed style of worship known as messy church, at IIketshall St Lawrence Primary School for an outside school church club, and at St Felix Church, Rendlesham to join a youth group with pizza and pancake making, games and a quiz.
Both bishops then met at the cathedral in Bury St Edmunds for an inspiring service called "Catching the Fire", before enjoying a picnic with worshippers afterwards.
The Lightwave initiative is the result of an partnership between the Diocese and Rural Ministries and championed by the Archdeacon for Rural Mission the Ven Sally Gaze.
Archdeacon Sally said: "From home-based hospitality to encountering God in the great outdoors, from community singing to community gardening, the Church is making a difference in our county and Lightwave is increasing even further the wonderful variety of ways in which people discover that God is there for them."