Journeying Forward Together
Ralph Birtwistle reports on the 40th anniversary of Greenfield Church
Back in 1976 Urmston Baptist Church and Urmston Congregational Church came together to form Greenfield Church. This year then was their 40th anniversary and like all churches they love a good anniversary. So, in among all the special services and guest preachers they opened their doors to the whole community far a three day flower festival, ‘Journeying Forward Together’.
As an LEP (Local Ecumenical Project) they drew into the project six of the other local churches, Anglican and Roman Catholic. Each took an aspect of the journeying theme and developed a display in keeping, and reinforced it by choosing a hymn or song to go with their display.
As host church Greenfield took the words of Sydney Carter’s song, ‘One More Step Along the World I go’ and built their arrangement, tongue in cheek, around various modes of quirky transport including an elephant and a wheelbarrow. They topped it all off by showing that they can’t wait to get on with the next 40 years by adorning a ‘No Waiting’ traffic cone with a lily.
Standing near the entries for the children’s flower arranging competition Kate Green, OBE, MP for Stretford and Urmston (pictured left with organiser Pat Smales) performed the official opening ceremony. Commenting on what she could already see were colourful and vibrant arrangements, she said it was just what was needed in a dull, rainy June afternoon.
Visitors were treated to a multi-media sensory experience. Beautiful and colourful flowers with delightful scents were dramatically arranged to a background of their chosen songs over the church sound system and appropriate videos shown on a large screen. Many went round joining in with the hymns or humming along to the catchy tunes.
Kate Green later described the displays as ‘stunning’ and ‘a real picture of summer’ and congratulated the arrangers particularly the children who had entered the competition, because they had given her such a hard time in deciding whose display was ‘best in show’. In the end she found a display that reminded her of her granny’s garden.
One corner was given over to a special display designed to appeal to those with a visual handicap, because Greenfield Church plays host to Baptist Voice the talking newspaper for blind and partially sighted Baptists throughout the UK. It was doubly appropriate since Baptist Voice celebrates 30 years of production this year since it was started in Kent in 1986.
The display (pictured) was presided over by Alice Pennington who is a visually handicapped member of the Church’s ‘After Eight Club’ and she supported the arrangers efforts by providing the braille notice.
Most flower arrangers get very upset if you start touching and tugging at their at their works of art. This one was designed to be touchy-feely and to smell nice as well. Alice felt that the balance was just right. ‘It would be so easy,’ she said, ‘to use something with such a strong smell that it overpowered everything. But this display was nicely balanced.’ Kate Green agreed as she tried with Alice to find the lavender plant in the herb garden by touch and smell alone.
Over 150 people visited the festival and the concluding act of worship on the Sunday afternoon.
Programme sales and other fund raising activity so far stands at £315 which will be used to support Stretford Food Bank a charity supported by the church and MP, Kate Green.
Ralph Birtwistle is the Baptist Voice co-ordinator and a member of Greenfield Church