A reviled local church becomes the 4th emergency service in Solihull


In  the mid 1980s Renewal church lead by Pastor David Carr bought a primary school. This school was surrounded by old people’s bungalows. There was vicious opposition to the church, with people coming into the services, breaking them up, swearing at the congregation. The church couldn’t understand the opposition. They complained about the church being noisy, of cars coming up and down the street even though it had previously been a primary school for years.

Complaints were regularly made to the council and a curfew was imposed so no services could take place past 10pm  ( therefore banning all night prayer meetings).The council were coming down all the time. The church felt there was a spiritual reason as the school had been much more noisy. At the same time the church was having an incredible spiritual breakthrough, but nonetheless there was an atmosphere in the building that they couldn’t put their finger on.

Around 1994 it became known to the church through local gossip that there was a bedridden, obese lady, who had become doubly incontinent. Two nurses who attended the church, took it in turns after coming off shift to nurse, toilet, bath her and make her more dignified in the final weeks of a terminal illness.

At the same time, the main protagonist was a lady living round the corner. She had known all the film stars, Eril Flyn and had been a model. She had lead a very disappointing life from her point of view. Her son worked at the foreign office and would ring up the council to complain on her behalf about the church. Another member of the church,   retired gardener , who ironically was also called George Gardener, decided to mow her lawn. She gave him a mouthful of abuse, but he kept going back. She waved a fist at him through the window as he de-weeded her garden. He planted plants free of charge. She said “Don’t think I am going to pay for that, I didn’t ask for it.”

The next time he went, she brought him a cup of tea, leading to her inviting him in, showing all the pictures of the famous people she knew. As news spread of these two events, all the complaints stopped and the old people started to defend the church. Just before she died, George Gardener lead her to the Lord, and the church did her funeral.
In spite of this, there was still an unease within the church. They realised one day that at the top of the road tther was an ancient druid burial ground “Hobs moat” a demonic thing. The church prayer walked the whole area. The heaviness left the building, the prayers had changed the spiritual atmosphere. Within 2 years they had outgrown the building as the church grew and grew moving to its current premises.

Pastor Dave Carr, leader of the church now and then, says it is the power of prayer and witness going hand in hand. This laid the foundation for the church today which has been told by the major of Sollihull that “Renewal is the town’s 4th emergency service. Helping hands fed regularly 3000 people last year, supplied school uniforms to the disadvantaged, provided counselling, helps people pre marriage, during marriage and after divorce. They work with people with autsism, provide a mental health clinic, help disadvantaged mothers under 21, provide volunteering opportunities for the educationaly challenged at their Wilsdon’s cafe increasing self esteem. There are 4 parish nurses that work with families.

Even more recently on Tuesday 9th a prayer meeting was held about the riots as there were reports that Sollihull was to be targeted. Two hundred youths gathered only to disperse for no clear reason. Pastor Carr is convinced that it was the power of prayer that saved Sollihull town centre from the same fate as other cities. He says prayer is the carpet bombing that softens the opposition before you send in the ground troops. Prayer and social action combined together are a powerful and unstoppable force! With two simple acts of kindness and a prayer walk, a reviled church has been transformed into the town’s 4th emergency service.

Can you dare to imagine what your neighbourhoods, streets and church could look like if you asked all of your congregation to pray for and get to know their neighbours?