Urban Spirituality from East Manchester

Mersey Street is twinned with the tiny Baptist chapel at Hawkshead Hill in the heart of the English Lake District. If you turn left out of the little lakeland village of Ambleside, then turn right just before you get to the tiny village of Hawkshead, head up the hill for a mile or so, being careful not run over any sheep, then you will come to the minute hamlet of Hawkshead Hill.

Their chapel doubles as home for their ministers, Kath and Dodd. They have an ancient graveyard and even a baptistry in their back garden - and it is not unknown for there to be sheep. The view is magnificent. It is everything that Openshaw is not.

So how does our link work? What can we possibly have in common?

Well, one of the key things about both fellowships is the belief that God continues to be active even in the most unlikely situations - and that is important for small churches to continue to celebrate this.

Both churches know and understand poverty - lakeland is experiencing the destruction of the farming industry, just as east Manchester saw the destruction of heavy industry thirty years ago. Both know about de-population. Both know about stress and mental illness.

And both want to celebrate the love of God for their communities.

Last weekend, we visited Hawkshead Hill. We wanted to take a gift to share with them - so, as so often nowadays, we made them a video. One Sunday, instead of a sermon, we went out to find signs of God in Openshaw. It was, as so often this year, pouring with rain. It wasn't easy to find signs of hope, yet there is still hope in Openshaw. Enjoy the results: