We hosted a Street Pastors commissioning at the weekend, 6 new SP's for Yeovil, and more prayer pastors too. We had reps from the local police and council there, reinforcing the partnership model that Street Pastors works with. There's now over 300 Street Pastor projects around the country, with over 9000 volunteers in action.
A couple of things struck me on the night:
1. A local police inspector told us that crime in the town centre had fallen 27% since the Street Pastors had started work. That's brilliant. It's partly through the Street Pastors heading off incidents (picking up glass which could be used as weapons, keeping lairy gangs away from each other), and partly through SP's dealing with low-level stuff, thus freeing up the police to do their job more effectively.
2. The deputy mayor gave the main address, which included this conclusion:
For the New Pastors…
The role is not about preaching heaven and hell, but one of listening - caring and helping - working in an unconditional and practical way, engaging with all people no matter Who or What they are.
For the Church…
God is challenging the Church to be a powerful catalyst for social action and Street Pastors are helping the Church to do just that. It is a must for church leaders and believers to reach their communities with a message of love and hope.
I'm mulling on that last bit, how to mobilise the whole church to be agents of change and hope in our communities. We had a few examples of that to show to our 2 local bishops, who visited last week, but there's still a sense that we're just scratching the surface.