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Sliding into the Spirit - Swindon church installation brings joy of the Gospel to worshippers

by Donna Birrell

A church in Wiltshire has found a novel way of getting parishioners into the pews - it has installed a huge indoor slide to transport people from its first floor entrance to the services which are held downstairs. 

It's part of renovation works at Pattern Church in Swindon which was bought by the Diocese of Bristol as part of a pioneering mission initiative.

Reverend Joel Sales told Premier about the idea behind the slide:

"We are a new church. We were launched back in December 2018, as a Diocese of Bristol resourcing church. And the vision is inviting people into family to serve Swindon. So, in our town, there's a lot of brilliant people, but 200,000 plus who aren't connecting with church and faith. So, we're a church with half of those guys. 

"We do have a particular passion to reach out to younger people because there's a slightly under- represented demographic in the church. So that's a real part of our heart, our calling. And the slide speaks into that."

Reverend Joel says the reason for the slide is rooted in theology:

"I always wanted to have a slide in this building, for a few reasons. Because joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Like when you read about what Jesus does in the life of Christians, part of the fruit is joy, the kingdom of God is love, joy and peace. So joy is a big theme. 

"Also, God loves children. And Jesus says, let the children come to me, don't hold them back. He loves children and sometimes our buildings and the way we operate can unintentionally say to children, actually, this isn't the place for you. And we want to say no, this is absolutely a place for everyone - young, old, whatever shape or size we are, you're welcome here. "

Pattern Church is a historic Grade Two Listed building which used to be part of the Great Western Railway until its closure in 1987. Since then, it has served in many different ways, most recently as an Italian restaurant. And Reverend Joel says it holds a special place at the heart of the community: 

"People have been pleased to see that the building is being looked after and stewarded well and that's been a privilege. And in terms of our ambition and mission, we've seen a number of people who've found faith in Jesus, found community and family and that's been beautiful and wonderful.

"And like so many churches, we've been involved in helping people in doing food parcels. We've got debt advice here. We're doing provisions but for children and families, we've got youth mentoring and all those things that lots of churches do. That's helped us to connect and support all kinds of people." 

More traditional churchgoers will be pleased to know that they can still use a staircase or lift to get to the services if they prefer. But Rev Joel is pleased with the reaction so far:  

"This slide is for everyone. It's really fun and it's getting a generally warm response."

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