Durrington Community Church, Wiltshire

Every church needs an Avongelist.

Rural Ministries Partner Durrington Community Church is not one to stand still and is always on the lookout for ways to serve the community. Leader Andy Lund explains.

If you look in the classic passages like Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12, and 1 Peter 4:10 about spiritual gifts in the church of Christ, you won’t find any mention of the gift of being an Avongelist. Evangelist, yes. Avongelist, no.

But we have one in our church and she is hugely significant in the life, work and witness of Durrington Community Church. Pat Parker is an Avon Lady in our congregation and her round is her mission field. She doesn’t have clerical garb or a Christian slogan on her T-shirt. Pat is recognised by her shopping trolley full of her customer’s cosmetics.

These customers are the first people to hear about what our church is providing, such as our excellent Saltmine Theatre Company visit in March, and the initiative to provide ‘Tea and Toast’ to young mums and carers straight after the school run. She is often seen on the school playground chatting to parents finding out what is needed in the community before encouraging others to help her set up initiatives to meet these needs.

With help from the Community Church, Pat launched the Tea and Toast initiative and once a week toys, toasters and spreads are shipped into the building together with a large piece of carpet and a guitarist. The children are looked after in full sight of their carers whilst she is chatting to parents and carers about the Gospel and picking up prayer requests, which she brings to the church with the knowledge and permission of those making them.

The Lord confirmed on the very first day that He would honour this venture in His name. One of the helpers was asked about their experience of faith and the Lord’s healing, and this flabbergastingly led to a family turning up to our church the following Sunday – in a different building on the other side of the village. Another mother turned up to Tea and Toast on the anniversary of her twin son’s death and we were able to pray for her.

The most significant thing for us is an opportunity for two fellowships to work together with both providing staffing, one providing nourishment and one providing accommodation. We are delighted that one hallmark of our 25th anniversary is that we will be greater working together with all three local churches in the cause of the Gospel.

Without people like our Avongelist, we simply would be the poorer. We all need to take Christ into our workplace or wherever we spend our time and chat the Gospel till it becomes second nature.