Cheadle Hulme houses a network of wonderful churches, where locals can worship, congregate and socialise amongst fellow church-goers. Churches Together in Cheadle Hulme brings together these local establishments together and promotes a sense of community.
Since beginning her role as Secretary for Churches Together in Cheadle Hulme six years ago, Sheila Richardson and other members of the group have been devoted to ensuring that events affiliated with churches in Cheadle Hulme are well organised and are enjoyed by attendees.
In explaining the structure of the group, Sheila stated:
“There are plenty of Churches Together groups throughout the country, and I work with the group within Cheadle Hulme. It’s part of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland; beneath that, is Churches Together in England, so we are within the next layer down.”
The philosophy of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland is encapsulated with the slogan, More Together Less Apart, with the strapline highlighting the group’s notion that there is more that can be achieved when working collaboratively, as opposed to working separately. In addition, the strapline for Churches Together in England highlights the notion linked with the faith element of the group, One in Christ Jesus, Engaged in God’s Mission, Empowered by the Spirit.
Churches Together in Cheadle Hulme contains nine places of worship: St Andrew’s, Emmanuel, Cheadle Hulme Methodist, All Saints, Grove Lane Baptist, Society of Friends, Chelwood Baptist, URC and St Anne’s. Each of the participating churches encourages people to come along and visit:
“There are nine places of worship that come together in Churches Together in Cheadle Hulme. The format is usually a minister of each church, plus one representative, but everybody is welcome. We have six meetings a year, as well as key events per year, to which we welcome everyone and anyone in Cheadle Hulme. The church is for everyone and we welcome people to come and join us.”
Churches Together in Cheadle Hulme host of local, annual events as explained by Sheila:
“The two key events that happen every year are the Oakmeadow services: We have one at Christmas time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus; that’s a carol service with the Salvation Army band. There’s also an event at Easter when we think about the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Salvation Army is also in attendance for that celebration, and there are hot drinks served at both events, as well as hot cross buns!”
Each Saturday during the period of lent, venues partaking in Churches Together in Cheadle Hulme host a lent lunch, with a speaker; while these are free events, guests can choose to make a voluntary donation to support a particular charity, if they wish. The lent lunches prove to be popular amongst locals, as explained by Sheila:
“This is a lovely time for people in the local churches to come together, talk and share a lovely meal and just to be together. It highlights exactly what Churches Together in Cheadle Hulme is all about – it brings Christians and Churches together in the local area.”
As well as the hosting of local events, Churches Together in Cheadle Hulme contribute and support to the local food bank, with each Church collecting a particular type of product, before donating the collection of food to the Chelwood Food Bank. Moreover, representatives from the churches volunteer at the Chelwood Food Bank and raise money for Christian Aid.
Churches Together in Cheadle Hulme are always keen to extend a warm welcome to new residents arriving in the area, with Sheila Richardson explaining the group’s innovative welcoming gift for new residents:
“We have just got our Churches Together in Cheadle Hulme mug! We hope that new residents coming into the area will be made to feel welcome when they receive their gift; it’s never easy moving out of a familiar area into somewhere new, so we’d like to give them a branded mug with details of church services and a tea bag inside! We always want to make sure that people are always made to feel welcome.”
New volunteers are always welcomed by Churches Together in Cheadle Hulme and can make a huge difference in helping the local community. When asked how people can get involved with the church activities on a voluntary basis, Sheila said:
“If you would like to volunteer, check the website of the church nearest to you to check times; each church will have different service times. On the websites, there will be details of vicars, as well as office staff, so make contact that way. Alternatively, you’ll be more than welcome if you just walk through the door. You’ll be more than welcome so please don’t hesitate.”
The collaboration of different local churches is a fantastic way to share common goals and messages; the pooling of resources amongst representatives from each church is done with the aim of improving the area of Cheadle Hulme, whilst providing fantastic events for residents.
In terms of future aspirations, Churches Together in Cheadle Hulme have set their sights on the national Thy Kingdom Come prayer initiative in 2020. In the meantime, Sheila acknowledges the great strides and successes that the group has enjoyed thus far:
“Across the last few years, each church has realised that we can be the network to promote their own activities. We all know about each other’s events, and more people are aware of activities.”
From helping with green issues, visiting the elderly, and assisting at local food banks, Churches Together in Cheadle Hulme continue to work arduously to add to the existing charms of Cheadle Hulme.