2015 Inspire Awards: Broadway’s mover and shaker
There’s a whole lot of outreach going on at Mark Pickering’s church in the Cotswolds, and he’s the man behind much of it ...
There’s a whole lot of outreach going on at Mark Pickering’s church in the Cotswolds, and he’s the man behind much of it, discovers SHARON BARNARD
Waving pom-poms in time to Abba’s Dancing Queen is not an everyday occurrence for Mark Pickering. But if that’s what’s required at the church’s ‘Look After Yourself’ exercise class, then he’s more than happy to join in.
And it’s thanks to him that this class – and the other outreach programmes he has organised at Broadway URC in Worcestershire – got off the ground.
When Mark took up the post of Outreach Development Worker in March 2014 he identified two areas of need in the local community: health and wellbeing along with loneliness, particularly among the elderly.
“There are many households in the area with acquired wealth, but there’s a lot of deprivation too,” explains the former career project engineer.
He has set up a weekly tutor-led exercise class, a monthly games afternoon and a fortnightly ‘Neighbours Online’ group where people help each other get to grips with technology.
“They’re all about helping to tackle loneliness and bringing people together,” says Mark, who also ferries some of his class members and volunteers to and from the events.
“I always explain that we’re doing these things because of our Christian ethos to help others. I’m very clear on this.”
In addition, he has organised a monthly ‘Threads’ group aimed at Christians.
“They have a devotional time at the beginning and then they sit and embroider and stitch together.”
All this is a far cry from the father of four’s previous work as MD of the leading UK shower company Mira Showers. But he couldn’t be more content.
“Having come to faith 13 years ago I felt called to spend time in kingdom work and decided to take a drop in salary to take up this role.
“The groups have become an opportunity for people to raise questions. It’s about genuinely listening to them.
“The apex for me is finding a way of making Christ more visible, so that people can choose him or make enquiries about the Christian faith.
“One of the ‘Neighbours Online’ tutors who didn’t go to church before is now a member here. It’s great. I feel overjoyed when people appear in church.”
Mark Pickering was nominated for an Inspire Award by Rev Ken Martin from Broadway URC, Worcestershire