Newland Community Project
Please visit our Community Money Advice Newland website for more information about the project.
St John’s is embarking on a new scheme to help people deal with a growing social problem – debt. The aim is to tackle the practical problems of debt, while at the same time providing support and an opportunity to share the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. In this way the project represents the two halves of the Church’s mission – practical and spiritual. It demonstrates the same love that Jesus showed when he walked the earth, curing the sick, feeding the hungry and making disciples.
The new project will tie in with all the outreach and community work St John’s already undertakes.
Why are we embarking on this project?
In the days before His final Passover Feast, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives and taught his disciples. They asked when would He come again in power, what would be the signs of the end of the age? He did not answer directly. Instead, He taught them – and us – HOW we should live in the last days.
He told them the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30). This is an exhortation not to bury our talents, but to make good use of our resources for our Master. The passage in the Bible continues (vv 31-46) with a reminder to care for the hungry and thirsty, the stranger, the needy and those in prison, with the reassurance that, whatever we do for one of the least of these, we do for the Lord.
St John’s has always been an outward-looking church. Our evangelistic strategy already offers a wide range of opportunities to hear and understand the life-saving message of the Gospel. Outreach, especially in the Newland Avenue area, has made us aware of some of the practical and physical needs experienced by people in our parish. In particular we have seen the devastating effects of debt on individuals and their families. While debt is not the only presenting issue and, as a church, we are concerned about many needs, action to tackle debt is particularly timely; the problem can only increase in the current economic crisis.
The Newland Christian Trust, whose task is to support Gospel outreach at St John’s, has developed a vision for co-ordinated community involvement to release the wealth of untapped talent and experience within the congregation, and to help address the physical, social and spiritual needs of those around us.
To offer assistance to people in serious debt, we plan to work in partnership with Community Money Advice (CMA), a national Christian based charity that enables community groups to establish local debt advice centres.
CMA will provide the framework in which we can operate and through which we will be properly registered both as a centre and as individuals.
CMA will also provide:
- Training for volunteers from the church to become debt advisers
- Administrative systems
- Advice (including a helpline for information on taxes, benefits etc)
St John’s contribution
St John’s will be involved in the whole process of helping clients to regain financial stability through:
- Initial contact
- Appointment with the client (debt adviser and befriender)
- Assessment of the client’s financial situation
- Development of a repayment strategy
- Preparation of a financial statement
- Contacting creditors
- Monitoring progress long term
Our primary resource is the congregation. There are numerous opportunities to join in; for example, we need people to pray for the work, and we need people to make contact with and support clients (Debt Advisers and ‘Befrienders’).
We have appointed Jake Belder as Community Action Minister; he is part of the St John’s leadership team and takes responsibility for work in the community.
Partnering with Community Church, Hull
The Community Church, Hull on Cottingham Road is establishing a similar debt counselling scheme using CMA and we plan to work together to share some of the administration and costs, and to jointly publicise the scheme to potential clients.
A group of churches in Cottingham is also involved and other Hull churches may follow.
The financial cost
We need to pay the salary of the Community Action Minister. Some money has already been raised from charitable trusts, including The Newland Christian Trust, and we have enough to fund the first year. However, this is an ongoing project, and charitable funding is unlikely to be as readily available in subsequent years.
For more information
To find out more about the scheme – or to offer to help – please write to or e-mail Viv Whitton , the Chairman of the Newland Christian Trust, () or Melvin Tinker ().