Rachel Hepburn is the community link worker at St Michaels, Stoke Gifford in the Diocese of Bristol Diocese, and isfunded by a grant from the Church Commissioners for mission innew housing and other developmentareas.
A video interview with Rachel is featured in the Church Commissioners annual report, which has just been published.
Rachels work in Stoke Gifford is one of 28 projects currently in receipt of agrant from the Church Commissioners for developing Church growth in deprived areas. Each proposal was based on work which had already proved to be effective in terms of mission and growth in deprived areas. The funding was awarded to scale the impact of the work across the Church.
Rachel took up the role in early 2014 and is already embedded in the local community, living on the Cheswick new housing estate and making vitallinks. Pioneer curate, Revd Jimmy Rocks said it was the grant that put the final jigsaw piece in place in the church's community outreach, as the estate is partly separated by an A Road with few community facilities.
As a team we had prayed about how we could do more in this new housing area. It was unrealistic to expect people to come to the existing church building, we needed to go out to them, explains Jimmy.
In particular, Rachel works with families with pre-school children. That was where there was most need on the estate, Rachel says in the video. Its a new development with people moving into new houses and theyve often got young families.
Its been interesting how you can go for one job and think youre going to do a certain set of things, and then it can actually be quite different when youre there. Because you are serving and trying to express your faith in that way to meet the needs of the community.
Youve got to expect to be adaptable in this kind of role.
Rachel and Jimmy and the team are also running lots of wider community events, along with an Alpha group and informal Sunday worship. By the end of her three-year funding, Rachel is planning to make the projects sustainable and run by local people.