Already active in the community through “Who Let the Dads Out”, the food bank and participation in assemblies at the local primary school, the church was led to open a Renew Centre when a neighbouring betting shop premises became available in 2017.
About A Safe Bet
“Renew Centres are shared spaces where it is okay not to be okay,” explained church elder, Graham Simpson. “Our vision is that by being a prayerful presence of God here at the heart of Bentley, people coming in would find friendship, self-worth and support to face their daily challenges as they experience God’s love for them.”
Now open three days a week and staffed by committed volunteers from the church, the centre is known as Renew 127. Activities range from knitting or crochet, board games and jigsaw puzzles, to creative writing and discussions on a wide range of topics, alongside light refreshments and a listening ear. Local agencies also encourage clients to come along as a way of alleviating some of the pressures of loneliness, mental health difficulties and increasing age. Numbers vary from 4 to fourteen at anyone time, with many becoming regulars.
At the core of Renew 127’s activities are “Rhythms of Prayer” where the start, middle and end of day sees visitors invited to join the volunteers in 15 minutes of prayer if they wish. A grant from BIC was used to construct, decorate and carpet the prayer room used for this.
“Since opening in January 2018 we have seen some people join with us for Sunday worship and become regular attendees,” continued Graham. “The church is really excited and encouraged as we see God touching the lives of those we are building friendship with through Renew 127.”