Despite the fact that many of our members were away on Monday (writes Jean Jones), some continuing a holiday trip to Jersey with the Band, the Ladies Fellowship enjoyed an evening of education about the services of the Street Pastors in Medway.
June and Peter jointly presented the background to the Street Pastors who are Christians (regular church attendees) who go out in teams of four from around 10 pm â€“ 3.30 am on either a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night. They operate where young people attend nightclubs and dance halls and are there to listen, care and help people who are vulnerable.
Assistance is given by way of: listening and talking, handing out flipflops to people who are tired of wearing their high heels and take off their shoes without a thought for the dirt and nasty things that might be lying on the street, lollipops to give to argumentative people before they get into a fight so that they are distracted and are encouraged to walk away, space blankets for those who are cold and have no coat, ponchos when it is wet, bottled water for people to rinse out their mouths after they have been sick (which often happens when they have too much to drink), sick bags for taxi drivers to give passengers who might need one, sandwiches for those who are hungry, and most importantly â€“ God s love.
Street pastors wear a navy uniform coat with high vis label Street Pastor and a baseball hat, similarly marked. Police and nightclub owners alike welcome the assistance of the Street Pastors as they feel that vulnerable people are being kept safe.
It is stressed that the Street Pastors have two separate roles, one being part of the community and giving reassurance on the streets but the other, just as importantly, is to provide prayer support for those on the street. The team of praying pastors is essential to the whole service and if there is nobody available to provide prayer support then the team will not go out onto the streets. The prayer team also provides food for the Street Pastors halfway through their session when the first parties have ended and before the second ones are due to end. Both sets of Pastors keep in touch by radio with each other and the police, door staff and CCTV teams which helps keep the whole sessions coordinated.
The Street Pastors come from all different churches and are part of over 270 nationwide initiatives pioneered in London in 2003 by Rev Les Isaac. It has been running from Rochester since 2010. There are plans to develop the service to day time patrols in the High Streets, schools and colleges. More volunteers and funding is needed for this to happen. Very recently the club owners have realised that they should contribute to the ongoing costs of this service which is so helpful to them and donations have been received.
June provided an epilogue which included verses from Psalms stressing how valuable we all are to God.
Next month s meeting is a visit to somewhere in Strood to see some Morris Dancers in action â€“ should be interesting.