Bread Church, Liverpool

When the smell of freshly baked bread fills your nostrils, it usually means that the house is for sale, a pot of coffee is on the stove and fresh flowers are in the lounge!

Bread Church 03But in Bold Street, Liverpool at “Somewhere Else” (“SWE” – The Methodist Church in the City Centre), it means that prayer and reflection time in the “Cloud Room” is over and it is time to share a simple meal with your bread-making friends.

You will have earned your lunch because you will have been kneading, stretching and pummelling your dough over the previous 2 hours to make the best loaf you can.

How Bread Church began

When God called a group of people to bring a Methodist presence back into Liverpool’s City Centre 17 years ago, none of us knew what that would mean. But we trusted in God – and in Rev. Barbara Glasson, who felt called to do something amidst the regeneration of the City with its rising population of city dwellers.

Methodism had left the City Centre in the 1980’s and the Central Hall was sold in 1990. Many were sad to see the demise of this once great building with its memories of stirring rallies and mission work. But times had moved on within the City and there was no perceived need for a Methodist monolith.

So it was that 10 years later a small group re-established a church above “News from Nowhere” in Bold Street – with the full support of the Methodist District – with bread-making at the heart of its mission. But life has been tough; financially, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Here are one person’s reflections on visiting Bread Church:

Half way between the two great cathedrals facing each other across the seaport city of Liverpool, above a radical community bookshop, is Somewhere Else – better known to everyone as ‘Bread Church’.

We arrived a little late; the large room was already full of people standing at rows of long trestle tables kneading dough – children, parents, young adults and senior citizens. This morning there was also a group with learning difficulties participating, accompanied by their tutors from a local college.

Bread Church 04Warmly greeted, we put on aprons, filled a large plastic bowl with flour and began mixing our dough and talking with those around us.

Once the bread was in the oven we shared a simple liturgy together. Tables were then cleared, soup bowls set out for a nourishing meal accompanied by hot fresh bread rolls. Everyone shared the washing up and cleaning the room.

This space is home to ‘Bread Church’ every Tuesday and Thursday morning with Sunday worship once a month. It is also a spiritual sanctuary for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, survivors of abuse and homeless people from the city streets.

We left, taking our two loaves of bread, one to eat at home and the other to give away. I was reminded of the early Celtic tradition:

“Whenever you break bread make sure you take a piece of the loaf away with you to share with a stranger on the way home.”

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Somewhere Else

Somewhere Else lives on the edge, as a community living and working with the marginalised of Society: caring for them, listening to them, being alongside them, praying with them, making, baking and breaking bread with them.

Bread Church 08We exist to serve God and to bring the Gospel alive in the hearts of those who have the courage to find us. For many of our community are afraid: of the church (we have worked over the years with many survivors of sexual abuse); of life in general; of authority and authority figures; of many things…

So our church does not even look like a “traditional” church – it is an upper room (very theologically sound!) above a bookshop. There are no pews, no organ, no pulpit or lectern.

Here the Word of God emerges through mixing, kneading, shaping & baking while telling stories, drinking tea & coffee and making simple soups. So every Tuesday and Thursday we share a simple meal with those who have chosen to join us for the day.

We are called to walk alongside God’s people here in Liverpool, living out a Christian faith in ways that most churches have never dreamt of.

After 17 years I still do not “know” the Church that I worship in – it is transient, extraordinary, fragile, on the edge – but very definitely filled with “companions” of Christ (from the Latin “together with bread”). Next year we “come of age” at 18 and are writing a book reflecting on our journey thus far.

So next time you are looking for something to do on a Tuesday or a Thursday at 10.30… come, be part of the experience and savour the Living Word embodied in soup with bread, cheese and jam, fruit and orange juice!

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Thanks to Andrew Lovelady for this story and photographs.

If you would like to find out more about Bread Church / Somewhere Else, visit the Somewhere Else website.

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