So, my last book took me over a month to read and this one has taken me a few hours for I couldn’t put it down.
When I was on the ‘Learn how to lead a Quiet Day’ day Debbie recommended Mixed-up Blessing by Barbara Glasson as it was about a church that made bread. (Did I mention that I want to learn how to make bread?) So, being the good little priest that I am, I ordered it and it arrived and I picked it up this afternoon to have a wee browse after a rather large lunch. It is now 8.20pm and I have just finished it and would really like to read it again but know that I shall savour that for another day.
This is the story of the ‘bread church’ in Liverpool – an emerging church, if you will, set up by Barbara, a Methodist minister. After the closure of the Central Hall in Liverpool Barbara was sent to explore what kind of church was needed and after a considerable time walking the streets, sitting in cafes, wandering through the shops, talking to Big Issue vendors, she started bread making in a flat above a radical bookshop run by a women’s cooperative called News from Nowhere. The bread church then became known as the Somewhere Else community.
Somewhere Else is a church which is not afraid to engage with those who struggle with church, perhaps because they have been excluded (gay, lesbian and transgender people) or because they don’t know how to do church or because they have been abused by church (survivors of abuse) or because they have mental health problems or are homeless or… the list goes on. Somewhere Else is a place where all are welcome, truly welcome. And they make bread. They make bread for themselves and they give it away. In the making of bread they sit alongside one another and share their stories. They learn to trust and to love. They learn about God in one another and they learn to pray from one another, not necessarily from Barbara.
It really is the most glorious book of inclusion and acceptance and how church should be. And it is how the Church reacts to such a church too. What an amazing read and one that I beg you to go read for yourself. In a week when the Anglican Church nips about women bishops and gay clergy, Somewhere Else is where the hope lies.