Insight: a week in the life of a Church Army evangelist
High Wycombe-based Debbie Orriss shares a snapshot of her ministry of community outreach ...
Church Army Evangelist Debbie Orriss is based in High Wycombe, Bucks, where she trains and encourages her church in mission through community outreach. She shares a snapshot of her ministry
For the past three years I have been living and working in the town of High Wycombe which is a multicultural area representing a variety of faiths. The church where I am based, All Saints, is located in the heart of the town and this provides many opportunities for evangelism.
Most days the church is open to visitors, and today I was there to welcome them and offer prayer. It has also been really encouraging to see members of the congregation joining the welcome team and growing in confidence when sharing their faith with others.
We held our weekly lunchtime concert today, and it’s been great to see community developing as many of the audience members stay behind for a cuppa and a chat.
A significant project that I am involved with is the Wycombe Homeless Connection. Part of its work is holding social evenings, one of which is hosted every Tuesday in the church hall.
These evenings provide food and hospitality for people experiencing homelessness – around 15 people come along each week.
Tonight it was great to see some of the guests using the Quiet Space I have set up in an adjoining room, where they can receive prayer, have a chat with one of the volunteers, or just have some quiet time for themselves.
The team and I aim to create community with those who attend and a number of them have taken part in Explore Faith sessions. Others have attended Alpha courses.
Today has been rather busy as I’ve been preparing for and leading our monthly informal gathering called BREATHE. It takes place on Wednesday evening in the church quiet garden and is aimed at people who are exploring different ways of worship.
Tonight we spent some time in worship around the theme of ‘The Spirit of Life’ and we then discussed Jesus’ offer of ‘life in all its fullness’. The evening ended with people praying for one another.
Finding innovative ways to help people explore faith and spirituality is a key part of my job, and recently we held a Spirit of Life Fair at the church which saw more than 100 people come along to encounter God through dance, a labyrinth, prayer beads and workshops.
A huge variety of people from all sorts of backgrounds attended the event and there were many spiritual encounters and conversations. So today, I met with Jo who co-ordinated the event with me, to review it and to explore what might be an appropriate next step.
Friday – day off!
Tonight I joined a group of volunteers from the local churches as part of the town’s Street Angels initiative which reaches out to partygoers on Saturday nights.
We gathered outside the pubs and clubs at midnight to make sure people were safe and to chat with them. I think just the fact that we are there as Christians, caring for people, speaks volumes and we’ve received lots of positive comments from the wider community.
A day of rest!
• To watch a film about Debbie’s work, visit www.churcharmy.org.uk/DebbieOrriss