Highworth Churches Together (URC, Methodist, Anglican and independent), near Swindon, run a Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Debt Centre, hold Life Skills and CAP Money courses and are about to open up a Job Club. A member of the town’s Community Church, Andrew Wilson, tells us how their story began…
“I was on the leadership of the Community Church from 2003 – 2011. During that time I came across Christians Against Poverty through The Times’ 100 Top Employers award. Having investigated the Debt Centre option we realised we didn’t have the funding for it. We did start doing a CAP Money Course and a few years later the Debt Centre Manager from nearby Swindon came along and did a church talk and encouraged us to either support their centre or set up our own.
Around the same sort of time, the four churches in Highworth decided to go on a weekend retreat to Lee Abbey in Devon. We’d never done anything like that before, but during that weekend another person who was using Lee Abbey for a retreat gave a prophecy. “You were the churches in Highworth, you will be known as The Church in Highworth”. He didn’t know us at all, but it struck a chord and from that time a prayer group was formed with members from each of the churches. This prayer group and a few other things started to draw us closer together. One year we performed The Passion for the town. We had 3,000 people in the Market Square hearing the Gospel. Not bad for a town of 8,000!
Over time our interest in CAP resurfaced and the churches decided that a debt centre would be a great opportunity for The Church in Highworth to serve the community in a way that none of the four churches could do on their own. With the combined resources of the four churches, we were able to open our own debt centre five years ago.
Our Debt Centre Manager works really hard to make sure that all four churches know what’s happening through the centre, which keeps everyone on board. As I say, none of the churches could ever have run it on their own, so it has enabled us to have a vehicle for people who had the time and gifts to serve to actually impact their community. We have seen many people make commitments to Christ. Some have joined with one of our congregations and some with other congregations in our area. The four churches are very different and bring different things to the ministry including prayer team members, befrienders, cooks and all important funding. The united heart to see people find Jesus means it has not been an exercise in growing our individual churches but God’s Kingdom.
You’ve got to believe that God’s answering that prayer. Even in Lockdown, our Centre’s existence was never questioned because everyone sees the transformation of lives in our town.”
Andrew’s involvement with CAP has continued. He is now Region Director – South England & Wales, Head of Life Skills Christians Against Poverty.