Ruthin Probus Club

THE Rev Stuart Evans is approaching a decade in his role as Warden of St Peter’s Church in Ruthin and he is held in wide respect.

In talking to the well-attended November meeting and AGM of Ruthin Probus on the subject of building community, Stuart drew on experience gained in South America after Bishop Gregory suggested he take a sabbatical leave of absence.

He chose to spend three months in Brazil and Argentina, also visiting Paraguay and Patagonia, with insights into the threats to the Amazon.

As pointed out by Peter Helm in his vote of thanks, a sabbatical can be defined as a period of reflection, and the range of issues raised in Stuart’s social analysis spoke to the very serious introspection which he had undertaken before, during and especially since, his travels.

He applied constructive thoughtfulness to what makes a community ‘tick’ and how the Church might evolve the better to play its part within this.

An obvious challenge for the Church in these times is to be more than a place of worship and to achieve and maintain greater relevance; to draw people in.

In these regards the Rev Evans’ experiences in England were perhaps more immediately instructive for his audience.

The redevelopment of a 1960s church in Speke, Liverpool into a High Street shop format as a community meeting place with clothing exchange and refreshments, as well as for services, was most compelling.

As too The Shewsby with similar functions, supported by Shrewsbury School. The ‘pay as you can’ lunch place in Wigan, run in association with supermarkets, providing left-over food.

Decorated ‘book boxes’ in Walthamstow.

These were all examples of people taking on the needs of their communities.

In facing these challenges locally, as in his talk, Stuart was seeking both to invoke understanding and to provoke reaction.

St Peter’s has in recent times gained a new roof and a refurbished set of bells, each achievement being put down to the emergence of a leader willing to take on a challenge.

The next such challenge seeking leadership is the repurposing of St Peter’s itself as a community space with wider relevance.

Will it become a pew-clear space for skate boarders?

Will it host the first Ruthin Gin Festival?

The Rev Stuart Evans will be pleased if someone will come up with some answers and the application to make them happen.

Meanwhile, a sociable soup lunch on Friday, November 15 at noon until 1.30pm, supported by Tesco, is open to all to pay what they can afford.

The Christmas lunch on Wednesday, December 4 will feature a National Trust speaker on ‘Before and After at Erddig'.