UK Church flings doors open in it works!

Feature: The church that stays open all night

How an ecumenical night-time project is meeting people’s needs in Stoke-on-Trent …

It all began with an all night prayer meeting held in a former bank building. Lichfield Diocese’s mission priest Gordon Crowther and his team were asking God how they could engage with the local community when the local community began to drop in.

At first it was a group of girls out clubbing who began to peer through the window; then a group of five lads, one of whom wanted to talk. The others wanted to move on to their next venue – a strip club.

Eventually all five went in – one dressed as batman; four waiting for their friend as he talked about his life and God. And as the night went on several others wandered in, curious to know what was going on.

And there and then Gordon and the team realised they had their answer: open the doors and the people would come – and that has been their tactic for Night Church ever since.

“The idea was to engage people who did not traditionally come to church as we know it,” explained Gordon. “Initially we used to meet on Sunday afternoons for a worship service, but we still felt we were missing a group who would not engage on that level. So when the five lads interrupted that prayer meeting we knew that the way to go was a night-time project that targeted people who were usually out at that time.

“At first we started off opening the doors monthly on a Friday night from 10.30pm to 2am, but the response and the needs were so huge that we had to go weekly and stay open until 4am.”

Hospitality is key to the initiative, with all kinds of people being made welcome – asylum seekers, people sleeping rough, clubbers and older people who are in the city at night just wanting something to do or someone to talk to.


“It has been marvellous to see what God has been doing in people’s lives,” said Gordon. “We have had great conversations and meetings with people. We once had a young man from the Royal Marines who had been to Afghanistan. He had witnessed three of his friends get killed and on the night we met him he was out to get drunk. He came in and stayed for hours and we had the opportunity to pray with him.

“I remember too the 17-year-old girl who came in and knelt in front of the cross and just started praying aloud about some trouble her friend was in. We went and prayed with her. She wanted to talk with us about some strange spiritual experiences she had encountered and it ended up as a deliverance session. Afterwards she told us that she felt free.

“Night church is truly an ecumenical project and it has been great to see groups who would not normally work together now working together for the good of the community.”


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