On Sunday mornings a group of us meet in the bandstand in Hall Leys Park in the centre of Matlock. We get together for 9:30 am and are there, or thereabouts, for about half an hour before moving on to a local cafe for coffee and chat. Every time we meet at the bandstand it will be different – we take it in turns to prepare and lead our time there. The only constants are: we don’t sing! (apart from Christmas day, when the odd carol proves irresistable), we generally have a Bible reading, we pray and we do share bread and wine, which is open to everyone.
Usually we will follow a theme or idea. Sometimes we move out of the bandstand to walk around the park in personal reflection and prayer, using slow walking or guided meditations. Sometimes we have things to do – we have done treasure hunts and even a barbecue. We might use silence or body prayers or do something creative… You can see examples of all of these types of things in ‘news’ which generally records what we’ve been up to.
Meeting in the park does a number of things – some of which we deliberately set out to do and some of which have taken us by surprise. It feels good not to be hidden away in a church building out of sight of the rest of the world. People can observe us from afar if they wish and equally they can approach us to ask us what we’re doing and join us if they like . It gets us away from church culture which then challenges us to rethink what worship might look like in a different setting. And it turns out that it is hugely inspiring too: it is fascinating to observe the changes of the seasons, the changing weather, and to feel part of the nature that surrounds us. It has become important to us to worship God as Creator in the midst of that creation and has forged links with Celtic and Franciscan spirituality.
Approximately every seventh week we take a week off : a sabbath. It’s designed to keep our meetings (and us) fresh, and interestingly, though we believe this to be right, we all find we miss it – and each other – that week.
In the holiday periods, we keep meeting at the bandstand, but keep things very simple. We use adapted words of the Anam Cara which is a Celtic morning prayer ,and share bread and wine in a shorter gathering of about fifteen minutes.
From November 2011 we also started to meet on a Sunday evening on alternate months in a revival of the ‘Soulspace’ service that some of us used to be involved in in the past. This is hosted at the Imperial Rooms in Matlock on a drop in basis between the times of 6.30 and 8.30pm.