|Rev Julia Meason|
Shapinsay Parish Church is located on an island of about 300 folk.
In the summer we have a cafe which is open every day but in winter months there is no natural gathering space for people. We noticed that lack of opportunity and decided to enter into partnership with the Shapinsay Development Trust who have a new building, far better located than the church is. They give us the building free of charge, we provide homebakes, teas, coffees and some activity for the children.
Our learning is that it is possible to build something new on a small island that is successful when we identify a true need in the community.
We have had our sabotage when we were accused of taking trade away from the local cafe - which we are not since it’s not open when we operate! We intentionally chose to operate in winter months only in order not to compete. It upset us quite a bit until we realised it had nothing to do with us - it was part of a bigger issue with somebody else and we were used as an argument.
I think all of us realised also how much we were hoping the coffee afternoons would bring people to faith and church. This didn’t happen and our loss is this deep disappointment.
There are good things happening though - folks are more than happy to volunteer to bake and host, whether they’ve got a church connection or not. Some began taking ownership of the place too - recently a family who have been very faithful at coming along, started sweeping floors and tidying up afterwards. They joined us for the beach clean up we organised in our community. I feel they’re beginning to feel like they are one of us, that they belong. And that is a truly great thing.