Vibrant church provides meeting place for the whole community
Anyone who thinks St Peter’s Baptist Church is just a place of worship might be surprised to learn that it is a vibrant community centre with a vast range of groups staging events and activities there.
Recent events have included an NHS conference attended by more than 170 people and the venue is used for people to sit Open University examinations.
The church’s Senior Minister, Mark Elder, said around 1,000 people go through the doors of the church each week.
“A lot of people use this building,” he said, “It’s very much a community hub, whether it’s the café or the community groups.”
He added: “St Peter’s groups use it a fair bit and city-wide groups as well.”
The church was opened in 2007. Mr Elder explained: “One of the things we said at the time is we would like to think the building will be used by the community and the city.
“We met little or no resistance and all the people who come here now really enjoy coming.”
He said: “I would say there are people who aren’t part of our church but they feel this is for them as well.”
He went on: “The vision of our church is to provide a warm welcome to all people of all backgrounds, of faith or no faith.
“There is nothing written into the constitution of this place that says it needs to be run in a certain way.
“Part of our vision is to want to make St Peter’s and Worcester a better place to live and be – that’s the simple answer.
“And, for us, that’s certainly driven by our understanding of God’s love.”
He added: “I would say it’s pretty much an outward facing church of all ages.
“Churches of all denominations that are more traditional are continuing to decline but other, outfacing churches with a vibrancy of faith continue to grow.”
The church hosts events for all ages, ranging from its Tick Tock Parents and Toddlers pre-school group and baby clinic run by an NHS health visitor to the Move It or Lose It exercise sessions for people aged 60-plus and U3A (University of the Third Age) meetings.
They are in addition to general activities such as pilates and a running club.
Community groups, including the Stroke Association and the Voices Unlimited choir, meet there.
Around 300 people attend the church’s three Sunday Baptist services but its members are open to dialogue with representatives of other faiths.
“Last year we held a theology event that was connected to the church,” said Mr Elder, “It was open to people of all denominations to come here.”
He explained that a week’s activities at the church reflected its “vibrancy”.
Including the café, there are nine rooms, two of them main halls, and they could be filled every day of the week.
Mr Elder said: “We work hard as part of our outreach to give people a good welcome. They all come back – that’s the litmus test.”