Mrs. Lunn has gone for a retreat at St James’ Hospital, a bi annual time of pampering and drugs! which leaves me home alone. After my deep disappointment as I woke looking at my wife’s empty pillow, I got up and had a quiet breakfast and headed out for a run. As I jogged around Durham and listening to music, I prayed about my placement; the big practical issue still needing prayer and discernment is the need for a regular space (see Theatre Church (part I) post) It’s important that the space is private and ‘holy’. I have spoken before about the need for preparation of space and it has been an issue to find a space which will enable and facilitate good and holy discussions without being a chapel or overly religious space.
I headed into college to pick up some things and on my way back home my route was blocked by builders and found myself heading towards the city centre. At the bottom of Palace Green the Salvation Army have recently opened up a ‘Boiler Room’ called ‘Sanctuary 21’ and I was compelled to go in and spend some more time praying about space. As I entered the ‘Prayer Room’ I discovered two people in the room chatting. They welcomed me in and we got chatting.
It turns out that the two people are Gary and Dawn Lacey who have been sent from Liverpool to set up a 24/7 prayer room in Durham. They have both been praying for two years about how to go about setting up and I was so impressed with the way the two of them have approached the whole process; spending every day in the Cathedral praying, making contacts with the churches in the area, listening to the needs of this city. They were keen not to storm into the city with ‘the latest thing’ and proclaim “we’ve got it!” Gary showed me round the facilities and I was so impressed. Having spent six years previously setting up a ‘Boiler Room’ in Liverpool, it would have been easy to come into Durham and replicate but Gary is sensitive to the particular needs of Durham. Yes, there are similarities about Sanctuary 21 and every other ‘Boiler Room’ but how best to serve this community and their needs. Gary wants to unite the different churches and their mission, so he isn’t doing ‘services’ or setting up a congregation or ‘sheep stealing’. He wants to bless all the churches and resource them with spaces to pray and worship and hold events for their church. He is also wanting to reach out to the students at night and help to support the Street Angels initiative.
Through our conversations I felt that familiar tug on the heart… was this the space? Gary showed me upstairs and told me that they were looking to hire out the space for people to use for prayer and events. I asked him whether he would be up for having a weekly workshop for students and he was positive. We discussed, briefly, how it may work and I became really excited. The space is light, airy and beginning to feel like a really holy place. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been into a place which feels ‘thin’? This place has that.
I need to pray and listen and ask God to open and close doors appropriately to lead me to where He wants us to go but this place already seems God lead; it’s central, it’s free, it’s filled with prayer and it’s private (as we would have the building to ourselves). Also, on a side note, it’s equipped for presentations and performances so it could also be a space, if we choose to create some product, to perform.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a timetable for next year yet so this all must wait. In the mean time, prayer… and now I have a place for that!