Arts Enabled Evangelization
Faith to Create: Freedom to Believe
St Peter’s Lodge is the home of our Christian mission research project for the National Church: ‘Sensing Salvation Wisbech: Arts-Enabled Evangelization’. It celebrates the beauty and power of our Catholic heritage in the English Church: a programme of recovering and restoring the wonderfully visual Catholic imagination to proclaim Christ’s Gospel of love, and so to transform the lives of individuals, families and town communities. The project’s theological thesis is called: Flourishing Orthodoxy.
In May 2012, we were awarded £100k from the ‘Developing Church Growth in Deprived Areas’ Fund, from the Church Commissioners and the Archbishops’ Council. We have been commissioned to develop a seminal model of contemporary Christian mission for the national Church.
In 2013, our three years’ project was launched by a spectacular May Procession, with about one hundred children from Wisbech and surrounding village schools, and was led by Bishop Stephen Conway of Ely and Bishop Lindsay Urwin of Walsingham. The May Procession has become an annual event in Wisbech.
St. Peter’s Lodge is a beautiful cottage, nestled in a secret garden, in the heart of the cultural precinct of the ancient market town of Wisbech in Cambridgeshire. It was formerly the home of our assistant curates but now has been transformed into an international centre for Christian faith and the arts. The restoration of the Lodge was made possible by our community business partnership with Mr. John Foster and his company Foster’s Property Management. The project has many programmes such as: artist and theologian in residence; international town of child-saints and storytelling festivals; Anglican/Roman Catholic arts creative mission internship; singing master-classes and schools choirs Festivals; and an international triennale of children’s religious art, provocative billboard, and Son et lumière.
Father Paul said: “Our Work of God (Opus Dei) is to build a strong bridge between community and our parish Church family.
So, we established creative partnerships with local schools, especially with Elm Road Primary School and Ramnoth Junior School. We have built a foundation of trust through our arts programmes at St. Peter’s Lodge and within these schools. Our aim is to encourage a generation of local families and children to come and see our loving God in Christ. As a parish Church family, we seek to inspire and support them through prayer and lavish acts of generosity.
By placing Jesus in plain sight, and, stepping inside his Gospel, we seek to love people into his Church. We deprive social deprivation of its despair and hopelessness, when we love our neighbours and our neighbourhood, when we welcome others to find Faith and hope, to create and reflect, to act out, to sing, and to pray and worship God in Christ”.
In September 2013, we employed Ingrida, a Lithuanian teacher and factory supervisor, as our p/t project administrator. She has brought a wonderful energy and loving presence to the work, and she has strengthened out links with the eastern european families in our parish.
One of the great joys in this project has been the development of ecumenical partnerships with Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians living in Wisbech. Our First Girl St Etheldreda is Portuguese. We got to know her family and the community and they came to us for a wedding and then tragically when one of their children died suddenly they asked us to take his funeral. Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox children attended our giant processional puppet residencies and their mothers came to us with the request of developing an ecumenical Eastern Orthodox chapel in our Church building. The chapel has been completed and hospitality and friendship has been extended to local Christians without church buildings. The arts and faith have taught us how to creatively live together.
In all this we rely on the support of so many people, but, especially, that of God the Holy Trinity and all our heavenly patrons: Our Lady of Walsingham, St. Peter, St. Paul, Bl. Fra Angelico, St. Vincent de Paul, St. John Bosco, St. Etheldreda and St. Therese of the Child Jesus.
Omnes cum Petro ad Iesum per Mariam!
Please have a look at our project website: