Christchurch Clevedon is situated in Clevedon in North Somerset. The church is a congregation formed from the Anglican and Methodist traditions. Linden Road Methodist Church and Christ Church joined together in 2005 to form Christchurch Clevedon, and has since been joined by many people from other denominational backgrounds as well as those with no previous church experience.
The church is very active within the community, with a young and old congregation catering for all ages. The Church is a key part of the community providing an affordable meeting space for small organisations and businesses, youth groups, toddler groups and Pilates and a range of other health and wellbeing activities.
We spoke to Revd Dr Russell Herbert, the Methodist Minister who is part of a team that leads the church. Revd Russell launched a pilot project with the Living Life to the Full (LLTTF) for adults course last year. The pilot started with around 12 particpants from the church. The first six sessions ran at the church, the last two by Zoom due to the restrictions with coronavirus.
Following the success of the pilot they recently opened the course up to their church members and recruited an impressive 32 people of varying ages from 17 years old to 70. Despite the ongoing restrictions, the church continues to worship successfully online and deliver the Living Life to the Full classes.
They advertised the classes to those who wanted to feel less stressed, face the day with a more positive outlook and to get and keep mentally fit. Russell says he feels the course was the ideal fit for them as it engaged the principles and skills that combine christian spirituality and cognitive behavioural therapy, and “encourages people to explore issues like anxiety and depression, building inner confidence and handling anger. To look at what is going on inside when we feel these things helps us to understand more clearly how we operate as human beings with thoughts, feelings, physical feelings and behaviours. We learn changing what you do can change how you feel . How to help ourselves and others.
The version of the course which incorporates christian discipleship themes with CBT is called ‘Living Life to the Full with God.’
Russell describes the course as “really practical and accessible and open to everyone. It makes no assumptions about where participants are at in their mental health or faith. The material is relevant to everyone. How we process our thoughts in everyday situations. Learning how to think more clearly, become more resilient, regardless of our faith position, or extent we struggle with low mood.”
Russell and his team have been working on a vision over the last couple of years as he felt a growing sense of calling to help people engage with mental health and wellbeing and given the events of last year with the spread of coronavirus and ongoing restrictions, he believes this is more important than ever.
Russell decided to run the course once a month on the first Thursday of every month. The course is completely free of charge as they are keen to make it available to as many people as possible who want to do it. Following the first session in which 32 attendees worked through the material with presentations, slides and breakout rooms, the feedback has been very positive with some people actually preferring the online version as it allows for a better use of time, with no time being wasted or chance to diverge from the content.
His longer term strategy is to create a mentoring scheme in order to be able to roll out the living life to the full classes to an even wider group. Also, the church has a very close working relationship with the local secondary school, and already works with over 40 teenagers. He has a vision to introduce the Living Life to the Full for Young People course within the church and hopes to engage the local school in this stage of developments.
Russell believes they will continue to deliver the LLTTF classes online along with their regular services in a dual track after lockdown in order to reach everyone and provide support to those who wish to continue to learn online. Christchurch Clevedon are successfully adopting a new approach to engage with their community and are a great example of a church who have embraced change during these challenging times to continue supporting their local community, in response to an immediate and obvious need for well-being support. Together with their other projects which tackle loneliness, isolation, poverty, hunger and much more.
To find out more about Christchurch Clevedon visit their website here.
To find out how Living Life to the Full can be implemented in your church or organisation visit www.llttf.com and for more information about our LLTTF with God click here and for our course for young people visit www.llttfyp.com
The Living Life to the Full Team.