A small church in urban South Manchester worked together with neighbouring churches for the first time to deliver an open access event in the community. Fourteen community groups were invited to take part. They included two local churches, a Spanish community group, the youth centre, asylum-seekers support group, an art therapy class, the local police, two primary schools and the local chapter of Narcotics Anonymous.
At the start of Lent each group was presented with a theme and short Bible reading, and some questions, based on the Stations of the Cross. They were also given a 4’ x 4’ piece of garden trellis. Each group was asked to use the trellis to express the theme in their own way, and to return it in advance of Good Friday. The work was arranged into a sequence around the church building.
On Good Friday the exhibition was opened to the public. Around 90 people attended, most of whom had never been in the church before. At one point there was a “guided tour” of the exhibits, in which the story was retold and each exhibitor had an opportunity to describe the thinking behind their work. Many people stayed on for a long time after the main event, sitting quietly with the exhibits or talking about the story.
The church felt the project had been hugely worthwhile, both in the retelling of the Good Friday story to a new audience, and also in the way that it gathered community groups around the experience of the exhibition.