Ali Gilfillan is here to tell us about the Roots Mission to Cottingley. Following his last interview in March where he shared the work that was already happening in Cottingley and his hopes for the Easter Mission projects, Ali shows us where God is working in Cottingley.
"Impact Week was a real success! We had a team of 17 young people from Roots and the Cottingley Youth Project, with 7 full time leaders from Roots, and a host of other leaders from Roots and Cottingley helping to run the week. We completed nine mission projects and ran a family fun day on the estate and then worship debriefing and fun times back at St Georges each evening."
"I would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work and investment in the week. Everyone who led teams, was involved in projects, fed us, let us use their showers, entertained us, slept on church floors, organised logistics, found us pots of money and free gear - there was a lot to do! And also to the congregations of both St George's and Cottingley for their support and prayers for this event."
Where did you see God working?
"Before Impact Week I asked people to pray for several specific areas, and I'd love to tell you how God answered these prayers:
Effective partnership between Roots, the Cottingley Youth Project, the Church in Cottingley and the local community.
We saw a great partnership between all these areas. Lottie (Roots Youth Pastor), Jude (Vicar at Cottingley) and local leaders from the Tenants and Residents Association of Cottingley (TRAC) were all very much on the same team in making the week possible, with great support from Anne Carter (Diocesan Children's Advisor) on our kids club project. It really did feel like one team for the whole week, with everyone giving their best to the local community and each other.
That the young people of Roots would learn about and encounter God as they engage in mission.
The team debriefs really displayed what each group of young people were discovering about God and mission. There was a realisation that what they were doing wasn't for their own benefit; one group really learnt the importance of keeping on serving, even when they found it tough. So much so, that when told to return to the community centre slightly early from a litter picking project, they arrived back with bags full of litter, being pulled on sledges made from cardboard they'd found on the estate!
That the people of the estate would develop ambitions, confidence, self worth and a desire to contribute to their community.
I know that we could never solve all of these problems in a week, but there have been some significant things to emerge from the week. I have had one local person ring me up to ask about volunteering at the Homework Club we run, which is the first time someone has approached me! We also had one team decide to make a blackboard for local residents to write on what they'd like on the estate, encouraging them to dream.
For volunteers: that God would provide enough of them, and they'd remain encouraged to keep on doing what CYP is called to do.
We certainly had enough volunteers for the week. Each team was accompanied on mission projects by a local volunteer; we also had local volunteers cooking lunches and running sections of the family fun day. They were really blessed and encouraged by the whole week and there are already calls for us to do the same thing next year!
Our prayers were certainly answered, and I've also seen God exceed the expectations we had for the week.
One of my main concerns was whether we'd get people along to our kids club and fun day. We had a good turn out at our kids club, and saw an estimated 200 people at our fun day, which packed out the community centre hall, and outside area - which had our bouncy castle and sumo suits on. We also saw young people really step up to the mark. Each group had a project slot which they could decide what to do with, which they really took ownership of, deciding what they wanted to do, and also making it possible. They also ran aspects of the fun day, keeping a strict and fun system for the bouncy castle, including a 10 second countdown everyone joined in for!"
What was your highlight of the week?
"My highlight of the week was definitely the fun day. It really showed how our young people could work together well to bless the community, and it was also fantastic to see the response from the community. It's opened up conversations with local people, and really raised the profile of the church and the youth project on the estate."
"There have been some really encouraging outcomes from the week. The local church have committed to trialing two ‘messy church’ style services to engage with families and children on the estate. Thanks must go to Anne Carter for her role in leading our team of local volunteers, who are keen to take a lead in the messy church project. We also had two young people joining the Roots team, who really grew as individuals and disciples, and it's exciting to see them continue to grow in faith and character."
What's next for Cottingley?
"We're also going to be involved in the Cottingley Summer Fair, which is a partnership project between many projects on the estate. We'll be joining with Leeds Youth Cell Network to run some of the fair, and also do some more projects on the estate on the 18th May. So anyone who has caught the mission bug should get involved!"
For more information about Cottingley Youth Project email Ali Gilfillan.