The Diamond - Part 3
reflected and refracted in all directions
Diamonds sparkle as light is reflected and refracted in all directions. Our vision is that as we preach Jesus and make disciples who serve in the city, and that the light and life of Jesus shines in many different places.
We all make a difference every day, in our jobs, our schools, our families and communities. But we also make a big difference when we work together on big projects like the Lighthouse, or Leeds Faith in Schools, or teaching English classes to refugees and asylum seekers. Together, and as individuals, the St George’s family is involved in dozens of projects that are making God’s love tangible and real. We are known in the city for our practical down to earth love and service to the poorest of the poor.
A predecessor, Vicar Don Robins, opened up St George's Crypt in 1930 to reach out to the hundreds of unemployed people who were on the streets during the Great Depression. Eighty-five years later, we continue the work of providing emergency accommodation to anyone who is homeless with love and practical assistance. This work begins a journey for those who are homeless to living independently, being part of a supportive community and making a contribution to society.
It is a work that keeps developing, such as the start of Spacious Places, which recognised how drugs imprison many people in poverty. This structured, non-residential day treatment programme is now achieving wonderful results. People are getting free of their dependencies and learning how to live again through complete abstinence. It follows a 12-step programme, with strong group support as they learn together why they got addicted to substances in the first place and then how to get free. This programme is pioneering something new and effective for the city, and we are seeking to expand and explore how we might add a residential programme. Spacious Places is now a charity, with its own board of Directors, three of whom are part of St George’s.
Lighthouse (led by Mission Priest, Jon Swales) is church for the marginalised and broken, and is practicing the same Diamond vision we are. Preaching Jesus, in a very direct way. Making Disciples through Wednesday afternoon bible study and prayer. Serving the City, by providing family for people who are lonely, and easing the strain on the HM Prisons and Hospitals. Finally, they are Sending Leaders, with new leaders emerging and a second Lighthouse being planned and prayed over.
When Don Robins began the Crypt he was not planning all this. He was a vicar who was living the gospel of Jesus and responding to the needs of the people right in front of him, in his Parish. He wasn’t aiming to ‘serve the city’ in any grand or coordinated way; but as he mobilised and led his people, that’s what happened. Today Leeds City Council trusts St George's Crypt, and we provide services for the homeless together. Equally important, the people of Leeds and its businesses support us. As a result, St George's Church is known as a church that serves the homeless, which is good for the name of Jesus in Leeds today, and opens the door for many conversations about faith and the difference that Jesus makes in our lives.
The Diamond of Jesus’ tough love is sparkling out of deep darkness
People at St George’s are now involved in many projects. They are too numerous for me to mention them all, but here are a few: Wrangthorn and Hyde Park, Kidz Klub and Space Groups, preaching Jesus to students in schools and colleges, welcoming international students, as well as asylum seekers and refugees. Usually we are working in partnership with other churches and charities such as Transformations Leeds, Food Banks, CAP and ELAM (preaching the gospel to Iranian people). Through all these good works we are serving the City of Leeds, making our city into a more welcoming and humane place in the name of Jesus.
We do this work as volunteers, serving on St George’s teams and on the boards of charities. We tithe our income to support the work of St George’s and our chosen charities. Our staff are directly involved too - most job descriptions involve a significant element of working in partnership with people and agencies outside St George’s, and about half of my own time is spent on networking and coordinating work that serves the city and the region.
Where is Jesus calling you to make a difference?
We preach Jesus. We make disciples. We serve the city.