Discovery Church, Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland
If you were to visit Dunbar in the beautiful East Lothian region of Scotland, you’re probably more likely to bump into some of the Discovery Church family on the beach, or at the John Muir Country Park, than in a traditional church building.
Discovery was birthed when a few folks dared to step out and leave the shore, with a ‘yes’ in response to God’s call to pioneer something fresh, creative and life-giving for the small North Sea coastal town of Dunbar. Values of intimacy, creativity and purpose inform all their gatherings whether meeting under canvas in their Bell Tent at the country park, in each other’s homes, or at the local village hall. After initially sensing the Highlands of Scotland should be their home, Jon and Emma Timms along with their young family sensed a calling to Dunbar, and so they left the surf and sun of their native Cornwall, for the slightly less surf, and slightly lower temperatures of East Lothian!
Since it began, the Discovery family has engaged in many and varied creative missional initiatives, not always hosting events, but often joining in with what’s already happening in the community. One example of a creative way to serve and participate in community life came recently, as they joined Surfers Against Sewage for the Million Mile Beach Clean. However, as well as engaging in local mission, a monthly rhythm of meetings and events also give a clear discipleship focus, whether on-line or in person. When covid restrictions allow, the first Sunday of the month is currently set aside for creative prayer and worship, the second Sunday a meeting in the local village hall, the third Sunday is outside, often at the Country Park, and the fourth Sunday a bring-and-share brunch. The fifth Sunday (when there is one) is all about serving the local community. Small groups also meet on a Tuesday evening.
Through funding from Rural Ministries, Vicky Allen now leads Discovery’s Creative Community Engagement initiative. Amongst other things, this has given her the opportunity to work collaboratively with a number of local churches, and particularly with the Dunbar Area Christian Youth Project, which has recently focused on outdoor summer holiday clubs and activity bags for local children, all of which were developed in response to the Covid 19 pandemic. For a few years now Discovery has also been the partner church for Scripture Union Scotland’s two day Surf camp with various members of the community being involved in supporting the event in prayer and donating resources. The young people enjoy outdoor games and craft activities as well as experiencing surfing and encountering Jesus in a welcoming and joyous way.
Creative ways to pray are also being investigated, and a local family is developing a prayer garden. The church has helped clear the ground in the area for a shepherd’s hut to be erected and used as a retreat and prayer space in beautiful woodland beside a river. Coupled to that, free online creative contemplation and prayer workshops have taken place, with a further series planned for the future.
Ultimately Discovery church seek to be a fellowship who gather in unity, and scatter with purpose and hope. Loving deeply, walking humbly and embracing adventure. Much of this, they hope, will be seen as the beauty of God’s creation is embraced, whilst the truths of the Bible are explored and shared in creative ways. They seek to be a people of salt, light and wild heart.