For quite a number of years, the Edinburgh ecclesia had been concerned about the use, or rather the non-use, of their ecclesial premises. They are in a prime position, very near the centre of Edinburgh, with train and bus stations just up the road, and many buses stopping virtually at their door.
Yet for most days of the week like many other ecclesiae their rooms were unused.
There were of course some periods when they were busy; when they took part in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, or held coffee mornings, a weekly cafe or other one-off events.
But when Alcoholics Anonymous approached them about holding a weekly meeting there on Saturday evenings, they were in two minds. Would they come on Sunday to be greeted by the smell of stale cigarettes and alcohol?
Their leader spoke to the Christadelphian brethren about how they operate, and they were struck by the similarities to our own outlook on life (the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have more details.)
Other events were requested, as people got to know the Christadelphian premises. The Edinburgh ecclesia regularly host the AGM of Edinburgh Direct Aid, and recently agreed to a request from one of the Mums who comes to their PEEP toddler groups to use a room for a breastfeeding support group.
Other events have been Pilates or Yoga classes for a few weeks; the YWCA have used the Cd premises for some of their training; and when it was the ecclesia her turn to accommodate the local World Day of Prayer meeting, the hall was full.
How much work is involved?
The Edinburgh ecclesia provided the various ‘Openers’, as they are called, with their own sets of keys, so they come and go
without any input from us. AA hold meetings at least once every day, meaning there is more work for the cleaner to do. Sometimes when the brethren arrive on Sunday mornings there is a bit of tidying up to do after their Saturday meeting, which is an open meeting and can have 30 or more people attending.
The ecclesia experience has been incredibly positive. From fledgling beginnings so many years ago the church is now an incredibly important hub for AA in Edinburgh.
The ecclesia now came to promote and fund further outreach projects in local communities and in street work.
One of their objectives is to raise awareness in our faith community about outreach. They would like to do this by taking case studies from churches that have experience in running a certain area of outreach and sharing it to inspire others.
Click on one to find out more.