Bright Sparks – St Mary’s Church, Pickersleigh, Malvern
The Revd Lynne Sparkes of St. Mary’s Church, Pickersleigh, believes a church should be a dual purpose building – a church on a Sunday and for the rest of the week a community centre. That’s why she runs an innovative cyber café every Monday where anyone in Pickersleigh can drop in for delicious cakes and coffee and use the free laptops and WiFi. In this Q&A Revd Sparkes explains her thinking:
The Church recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.
Lynne: It was built as this estate was emerging in 1958. The houses round the back of Sherrards Green hadn’t been built, nor had Elgar, but Landland was here, so was Clare Road. The diocese decided they would plant a church and make it a gual purpose building. So, it’s a church on Sunday and for the rest of the week it’s a community centre, and has always been. There’s no point in having something you use for an hour on a Sunday, it’s a waste of a building. Funnily enough, everyone else is now doing what we’ve always done.
You did some research on what Malvern was like 60 years ago?
Lynne: We went to the Hive and found some photos of the estate being built. There use to be a Harvest Hoedown every year which was very popular. We also found old maps – it was amazing to see the amount of greenhouses on Tomatoland. It was a serious production! That’s why all the roads round tere are named after tomatoes – Harbinger Avenue, Alicante and Challenger Close.
Tell us more about your typical week?
Lynne: On Sundays we have the church service and Sunday School for children. On Mondays it’s the Refresh Café with free WiFi, trade craft shop, a nearly new shop, play area for children, teas and coffees. It’s been really useful for supporting mums who have become a little bit isolated. On Thursdays we have the Pickersleigh Bears for 0-5 year olds. We call this a fresh expression of church. It’s a toddlers group like any other but we end it with a little church service. We sing and dance, tell a story, and say a little prayer. We’re just trying to reach out to the community. Because when you get people coming to events, that’s when you find out what their problems are.
Refresh Café, Mondays during term time, 9am to 12pm, St Mary’s Church, Sherrards Green Road, Malvern WR14 2££