Many of you will be aware of the success of the Beach pastors initiative which has been supported by all the churches in Whitstable. Currently the Beach pastors are taking a break until April when the patrols will begin again. When the pastors go out on a friday evening they are supported by a prayer team who remain at the base (St John's), and offer encouragement through prayer, conversation, tea and biscuits. This prayer team is a vital part of the project and we are currently looking for new members of this team.
The commitment is to around one friday evening a month from 7pm to midnight, (although it is accepted that some members of the group go home a bit earlier). This is a great opportunity to get involved and to meet people from the other churches. If you are interested, or would like to know more, please get in touch with Helen via our 'Contact Us' page.
Beach Pastors is the local name for Whitstable Street Pastors, under the umbrella of The Ascension Trust.
Whitstable Beach Pastors were commissioned on Friday 20th July 2012. We offer support to Whitstable's evening time activities, both in the town centre, but also along the beach. We will patrol from 7pm to midnight (this matches the identified "need after consultation with local Police and the local Community Safety Unit) in the main. However, as we are a seasonal location, we will also patrol on other key dates in Summer both during the day and the evening. One key factor in our project is the identified issue of young people drinking on the beaches at night and making themselves vulnerable.
Most recently we supported the Whitstable Oyster Festival which commenced the day after we were commissioned as Street Pastors.
All of Whitstable's churches support the project. It is the culmination of 12 months of planning by a very active Management Team composed of Church Leaders from a number of those Churches. We have had amazing support from The Ascension Trust all the way through the planning and preparation of the Scheme. We have been blessed by having a significant number of volunteers to be Street Pastors and to be part of the Prayer Team. We are already holding a list of new Street Pastor applicants to train in a second phase for 2013.
Co-ordinator Lee Russell says: "We are really grateful for the support of all the churches working together, in providing pastors, members of the prayer team, and financial backing. We are also very grateful to our key funding partners - The Kent Peoples Trust, Kent Police and the Rob Knox Foundation. Without these funding partners we could not have brought this project to fruition".
"It's a fantastic thing having this common vision," says the Revd Helen Letley, Minister of St John's Methodist Church. "This is about discipleship in action and demonstrating who we are as Christian people, so offering God's love in terms of active assistance."
Coordinator Lee Russell says "We are very pleased to be the latest Street Pastor scheme to be set up and supported by the Ascension Trust. The Whitstable Street Pastors have already received a range of key training. Due to our location we also have had training on sea safety, which was provided the RNLI and Canterbury City Council Foreshore Services"
"My dream is that this is a good news story in our town," says the Revd Steve Coneys, part of the Management Team. "This is something which round the country seems to be received as unambiguously good news. Ordinary people get this."
The team patrol from St John's Methodist Church, Argyle Road, Whitstable. They are also supported by our Prayer Team at this location.
Already the Street Pastors have helped to locate two missing children, have disposed of potentially harmful broken bottles and glass from during their patrols, and are being received very positively by the local community. We have also had great coverage from both local and National press.
It is early days for our scheme. However, GOD is showing us that he is with us every step of the way.
Lee Russell (Coordinator) can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer 'Street Pastors' will take to Whitstable's beaches throughout the summer in what is believed to be the nation's first ever scheme of its kind to operate on the beach. Anna Drew speaks to Helen Letley and Steve Coneys about the scheme.
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