We revisit Local Missional Leader Ann Fairhurst's story to see how she, along with other local women are making a real difference to both community and environment in Wigan.
We last spoke to you back in October shortly after your commissioning as Local Missional Leader, firstly how are you feeling now 6 months later?
I Love it!
There have been loads of opportunities to speak to people to let them know that God loves them. Lots of questions are asked and we can explore answers together. It’s not a one size fits all, it's surprising how many people think God can't possibly love them because of x but the message is God loves us, all of us and we're all different.
What kind of work are you doing?
We have News at Ten on Tuesday mornings when we look at the newspapers to see what is going on in the world, we talk about it and then pray. It's very informal but we get to pray for all that is current in our world and bring God in to the centre of it. Our monthly Saturday worship is a great way to again look at our relationship with God, it's a gentle time with very little structure and it certainly isn't a service in the traditional sense of the word but then again as I was reminded by Janice Hill (who looks after LML's) there is no expectation for me to 'do' church it's about 'being' church.
I meet regularly with Rev’d Denise Heyes, she knows the issues and the community that surround the people and their lives as Fur Clemt [Real Junk Food project cafe] is in the area between the two churches that Denise has served for many years. I can talk openly to her and she is a great source of strength to me.
Prayer is a massive part of all that goes on and as a Local Missional Leader I am learning a lot personally about how to be more prayerful. We have prayer cards that people are just starting to use and I then feed those prayers into the order of prayer in Wigan. I meet monthly for prayers with two other women and I find that time reenergising. In the last six months I've found that I am on the path God has planned for me, it's got its challenges it isn't always an easy path to tread and I sometimes need hiking boots with a good tread on them to get over the rough bits, I know though I am never alone !
We spoke about Fur Clemt, a real junk food project in Wigan that you helped set up when we last spoke. How is that going?
Fur Clemt goes from strength to strength. It shouldn't really surprise me or Shirley who is my co- director at Fur Clemt as it is such a brilliant idea - to save edible food from going to landfill. We are constantly amazed by how our little environmental project can reach so many and make such a difference, both on a basic feeding bellies level and on a massive environmental scale. We support up to 30 other organisations with food on an almost weekly basis.
We have three other real junk food projects running across town and we've supported Stella at the Birchwood Centre in Skelmersdale to start one too, this came from a meeting that Archdeacon Jennifer arranged to get all of us from across her archdeaconry involved some way with food to work more closely together. I doubt I would have met Stella otherwise. We already have a great working relationship.
Following International Women’s day this week, what is your message to any woman who might be feeling called by God in a similar way?
My story is interwoven with references to other women. We are so blessed to have so many fantastic, strong determined women around us to share our journeys with. My message is - jump on board don't wait. The International Women's Day hashtag is great, so ask yourself "will you be bold for change?"
Photo: Ann (left) with Shirley after Fur Clemt won the ' We're backing Wigan' award from the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Wigan Business Awards at the end of last year.