Luton community bids farewell to CRCW after 10 years

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KC with local faith leaders and dignitariesLocal dignitaries, faith leaders, and community members gathered on 15 February to say goodbye to Karen Campbell, Luton Church Related Community Work (CRCW).

Karen was CRCW – a ministry of the United Reformed Church (URC) concerned with bringing about positive change in local communities – for a project hosted by Bury Park Beech Hill Council of Churches in partnership with Grassroots, a Luton-based community development programme, which recently completed its maximum ten-year term.

At a special service held at Holy Ghost Catholic Church, project participants took turns to reflect on the impact the project has had on the community and to wish Karen good luck for the future.

Karen said: “I know my time in Luton has been worth it. There are friendships built across faiths and cultures, and people [have been] brought together. I say with confidence that the Luton I leave is not the Luton I came to. In some small way, I know the project has made a difference indeed.”

The project started work in 2010 with a ‘visions and dreams’ session where Bury Park Beech Hill churches were encouraged to explore who they were, where they were, and what they wanted to be. These early reflections led to a range of initiatives bringing together church and community, including annual seaside trips, festive gatherings, creative writing and exercise sessions.

KC laughing being given pressies

The project contributed to wider community initiatives such as One World Week, International Women’s Day and Holocaust Memorial Day events, plus Luton Fairtrade and Luton Council of Faiths initiatives, including the Faith Woodlands Communities and Community Archery Projects. Considerable work took place among and in partnership with the local Roma community. With support from the ‘Near Neighbours’ programme and its ‘Real People Honest Talk’ initiative, people were enabled to explore themes and issues affecting their lives, working together to propose positive responses.

Addressing the audience, the Revd Dr Andrew Prasad, Moderator URC Thames North Synod, commented: “It is hoped there is enough to inspire and continue the adventure even after the Project ends. Many in Luton will miss the project worker Karen Campbell and Karen will miss many people in Luton, but we must let it all go in confidence to embrace the new and welcome the unknown.”

Looking ahead to the future, David Jonathan, Director of Grassroots, expressed the hope that the people of all faiths in Luton continue God’s work, adding: “It is about our coming together, which is part of embodiment of the vision which is God’s vision and not ours.”

More information on the CRCW ministry can be found here.

Published: 4 March 2020
Picture: Top, Karen Campbell, fourth from right, with the Revd Dr Andrew Prasad, third from left, with local dignitaries and faith leaders. Bottom, Karen being presented with gifts. David Jonathan/Grassroots.

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