Holland Road Baptist Church

Mike Baldwin

Friendship Centre

By Mike Baldwin

Our Friendship Centre is a community centred on meeting weekly for a low-priced wholesome cooked lunch and good company. We aim to provide a relaxed environment where mainly, but not exclusively, older men and women can enjoy friendship and a sense of family. We try to promote the opportunity for general everyday conversation, and an open atmosphere to talk about matters of faith if that is wished.

The Friendship Centre is served by a volunteer team from Holland Road church who have a heart for encouraging people, many of whom live alone, by building relationships and providing a friendly setting to share experiences, challenges and good times. The team comprises some who come early on Friday mornings to prepare food or set up the hall, and others whose main role is to welcome and mingle with our visitors while they are with us over lunchtime.

Our visitors – numbers currently about 30 to 50 – mostly come from nearby streets on foot or from further afield across the city by bus. Some have been coming for years, but there is also a steady inflow of new folks over the weeks. Some belong to our church or come from other churches in the city, but many have some other faith allegiance or would say they subscribed to no faith commitment in particular. There is no commitment, but we do offer just a short five-minute talk or testimony by someone, presented between main and dessert courses. This is the only formality, but opportunities are available for follow-up should that be what a visitor wishes.

Recent comments of a visitor on social media are very positive: “No one in attendance should ever feel in isolation ……….it is clear that the time is not just aimed at church folk ………..the short talk is someone talking about the source of their faith or giving an insight concerning the meaning of certain scriptures ………..folk are sometimes given the opportunity to talk further with someone if they wish but no one is compelled to do so…………a highlight of the church putting its faith into practice”.

The core details of each meeting are:

**  the main course is served between 11.45am and 12.15pm, the best range of time for a visitor to arrive,
** the short talk is from 12.30pm, and after this dessert and tea/coffee is served,
** a two-course meal plus free drinks typically costs £3.30,
** we are broadly open from 11.30am to 1.30pm most Fridays of the year.

Our Friendship Centre team continually welcomes those who can give time on a Friday to help with any aspect of preparation in the kitchen, mingling with our visitors in the hall, or a mixture of both. Do get in touch with Sean Avard, Maria Nwanwene, Pauline Lawrence, Mike Baldwin, or any member of our team you know, if you feel you could help us for however long or short an amount of time.

Topics: Local Mission
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