New Monastic And Catholic Straws In The Wind

A young Deutsch pastor spends a week alone on this island a week after attending a Vineyard church conference and a week before getting married! Someone prophesied he was to embrace a spirituality like a deep Scottish loch. He prays about developing church life imbued with monastic values. He reads 'Punk Monk' and 'High Street Monasteries' in our library.

The Hodge Hill, Birmingham church, spent a week on the island last year. I thought to myself 'This is just the sort of church Jesus would like'. Now they tweet that they look for Christians to come and live in two community houses and share in their vision to be locally rooted, joining in with what God is doing there, to explore the challenges and possibilities of sharing a common life together as part of the wider ‘dispersed’ community, of loving neighbours with infectious compassion, of learning and living out a rhythm, of healing and peace-making. To find out more contact Revd Al Barrett 0121 747 6982 / 07738 119210

I was the founder and am a patron of Saint Michael’s Workshops at Bowthorpe, Norwich. Some of their wood Celtic artefacts, which people with learning difficulties help to make, are sold at The Open Gate on Holy Island. For years workshop patrons have included the Anglican and Catholic bishops and the Free Church President.

The newest patron, Bishop Alan Hopes of East Anglia, has visited the workshops and has circulated a report in his Diocesan Newspaper. Here is an extract:

The role of the Workshop is to help people with learning difficulties and physical disadvantages to develop their full potential. Working with wood, fostering social skills and encouraging creative and therapeutic activities form the basis of each week. Among our 20 trainees are Downs people, those with autistic traits, others with learning difficulties, those who are registered blind, needing a wheelchair or prone to seizures. They attend for between one and three days each week, giving a unique mix of people on each day. Most trainees are involved in the finishing of wood items by hand-sanding, wax polishing and oiling. Some have a particular gift for painting. Others have skills in drawing out shapes and cutting them on a fretsaw. Some have been trained in the safe use of other woodworking machinery such as the band-saw, pillar drill and electric sander. It is satisfying for each person to see their work being valued by customers, and to take a pride in keeping standards high. Half our funding comes from the Government via Social Services. The rest comes from the items we make and sell. We are the main UK supplier of Godly Play materials, a unique resource which fosters a sense of wonder during the presentation of Bible and faith stories using simple but beautiful wood materials. Godly Play is now widely used in schools as well as churches. We also make a variety of craft items, Holding Crosses, children’s templates to draw round, plus personalised items on request.

Saint Michaels Workshop was established in 1984 as part of the Bowthorpe Community Trust, Reg. charity no. 1147049. Half the Trustees are appointed by Bowthorpe Church, which is an Ecumenical Partnership seeking to serve the local community. Please contact us if you would like further details or feel you may have a part to play in what we are doing. Bishop Alan Hopes with trainees,staff and volunteerson Thursday 30thJanuary this year Saint Michaels Workshop Bowthorpe Hall Rd, Bowthorpe, Norwich, NR5 9AA Tel. 01603 746106 Email:

Posted at 02:29am on 7th February 2014
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