Gypsy & Travellers hold faith in God dear to them, and some of us value our relationship with God above anything else in our lives.
I want to tell you about the big building in Askern, Doncaster.
Why we love it, why we value it and how it came to be.
Back when we were called GATEM
(This stood for Gypsy and Traveller Evangelical Movement, but it was changed to Light and Life to be more inclusive. We don’t just want Gypsies and Travellers to use our churches, we want everyone)
Askern Church started as an outreach from Wakefield Light and Life Church.
This just meant an established church saw a need for Gods work in another area and looked for a venue, So In a cold, worn out and rundown little shack is where many of us grew in faith and love. We loved that little shack and tried to make it as worthy to be called a house of God as possible by cleaning, painting and decorating.
Our men took many of days of work to make it a safe and comfortable place to worship and even though we did our best, we could never get rid of the smell of damp and “foust”.
We always had creepy crawlies in there with us, snails, spiders and slugs. We were always cold even in the heights of summer because, the few windows it did have were blocked out.
It was the only place for the Gypsy & Travellers to worship in Doncaster, the place to call our own. All nationalities would come to worship God together, English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish.
Even though this little shack was cold, damp and smelly. I do remember it for something very special, the love warmth and joy that came from the people that was in there. It was a place where we grew in understanding of our faith and most of all love for God and one another. It was a place where we taught our children stories and good morals that came from the bible. We sang, praised and worshipped God, then the preacher would read from the word of God, the bible. The little shack was our spiritual home, a home not just for Gypsy and Traveller but for anyone looking for a Saviour. We used that building for quite a few years then God blessed us with a lovely new one, warm dry and safe, we had many blessings in there, baptisms, children’s dedications, fellowship meals on Sunday after the service, Christmas and children’s calibrations. And every last Monday morning of the month we’d all meet up there together with the brothers and sisters from Wakefield church for the fast and pray. It was always a blessing to us to see them as They really encouraged us when Doncaster church first started, they’ll always have a special place in our hearts. From out of that little cold shack where we all worship God together and taught our children, come men and women planting churches in other parts of the Country.
The children we taught in Sunday school are teaching Sunday school themselves, some of the young men are now sharing Gods word with others. The thing that made that little shack full of joy warmth and love was God by his sprit, resting upon each and every person that was in it.
that’s my DONCASTER. that’s my memories