Happiness is a Group called Ramsey

2nd Nov 2021

It's so encouraging to hear about the positive experiences of Urban Saints Groups meeting onsite again this term. In the case of Ramsey/Dovercourt Crusaders, it has been all the sweeter because they have been unable to gather much at all since the start of Covid-19.

Group Leader, Nigel Spencer (who wrote earlier this year about the challenges of a Group in lockdown), shares their experience of seeing the Group come back together...

" 'I'm so excited! I mean really excited!'

'Ok, so what is it that can make a man in his late 60's so excited then? Could it be that he's won the Lottery!'


'Perhaps he's off for the journey of a life time?'


'His 'bucket list' - it's been completed!'

'None of these!'

'Go on then, I give up, why is a man in his late 60's so excited?'

'Simples! Why, because our Crusader Group has just re-opened for business!'

How many of us can articulate that privilege at this time of gradual Covid relaxation, September 2021?

The vale of tears and uncertainty that has pervaded our lives over the pandemic's last 18 months hangs heavily still over so many of us. We think of loved ones lost, of friendships frozen, of the time of no hugs and the distant waves of Zoomed affection. True, we have got by, but all of us have been affected in some way, we are not the same folk that we were way back before the Covid calamity.

What about our Group at Ramsey/Dovercourt? With no physical gatherings, camps or rallies or community outreach, how did we manage? True, the internet has come to the rescue, and flying Leader house calls have played their part, but that is just not the same as the real McCoy of meeting up and being collectively together, physically.

To laugh and joke and grumble and cry within the warmth of caring friends and Leaders, to feel mentally understood and less pressured because of our relationships enjoyed over squash and biscuits, tea and coffee, beer and wine... Ah that's something different. And hearing the Word, live and meaningfully interpreted in a thousand ways through games and discussion and activities and action, all this has been so missed.

Ramsey/Dovercourt Crusaders kept faith with their young charges during this time through Easter and Christmas visits, being loaded down with Easter eggs or Advent chocolate calendars and messages. The annual Christingle distribution was adhered to and no, we didn't post them through the letter boxes..... My car got used to the stops as we planned our house-calls, and it was good to see friendly faces, even if they were distanced.

We missed our 30th Birthday Celebration which was a milestone in more ways than one, as some of our Leaders had ear marked then as the time to pass on the baton of running the Group to other, younger folk. Covid caused us all a time of reflection, and what was clear was that if the Group was to reconvene, stability would mean the current Leadership remaining in post.

We all felt that to re-open to see what the uptake might be, should be our modos operandi and thus it came to pass that on the 7th September, after hours of sifting through the guidance from the Urban Saints team, and surrounded with mounds of sanitiser, wipes and tissues, we announced, via the local Press, Facebook and word of mouth, that we were open for business.

The hall was sanitised, windows were open, tuck was individually wrapped, games equipment wiped, up-to-date membership forms duplicated, risk assessments done, we were ready.....

That feeling of anticipation as I could see young people congregating outside the entrance door was thrilling and, at 6pm we opened up and welcomed in the tide of smiling, chattering faces that seemed to have grown older and fuller over the long period of forced exile.

It was a wonderful, normal meeting - well, ok we did end with pizza - and our new register recorded 11 members, 1 Senior Helper and 5 within the Leadership Team. We were viable if small in numbers, so the challenge to double in size was issued.

(Update: Two sessions later - 100% membership increase - Fantastic!)

As the sanitiser spray settled after the last young departure, we were all so happy. We had laughed and talked and played and prayed and revelled in the company of our shared experiences. We simply picked up the reins from where we had left off, and restarted our journeys together.

In November we will be 31 years young. We will carry on, reinvigorated and with our eyes firmly fixed upon the Faith which has never let us down. Yes, we will need sponsorship again. Yes, we need younger Leaders. Yes, we all need to keep well, but do you know what, we confidently take the steps forward with our Group. Prayerful Patrons support and Urban Saints team guidance will uphold us as, in our own mad muddle of organised chaos, we live out our daily lives...

That's why I'm so excited! 

Now what about a Westbrook visit? That would be the icing on the cake for the Group next year, I wonder......."

Nigel Spencer MBE - Ramsey/Dovercourt Crusaders

"We have been a bit overwhelmed by the return of so many children at the start of this school year. We had wondered whether any of our young people would return so imagine how we felt when 30 appeared..."

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What has the new term been like for you and your Groups? Where have you seen God at work in your local weekly Groups and your wider community? We’d love to hear your stories so do send them in so we can share them on and encourage others too.

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