Diocese of Portsmouth

Fresh Expressions: The Moot, Shorwell 

ONE thing that unites many active Fresh Expressions these days is the lack of a sermon.

The Moot in Shorwell is one example of a regular worship activity that takes a more active approach to learning. The monthly get-together usually involves 30 minutes of refreshments and chat, followed by 30 minutes of informal worship.

Adults and children sit together around tables in the middle of Shorwell Village Hall. That makes it easier for the speaker to ask people to discuss issues around their table and say what they think.

The Moot – which is an old English word for a chat – also features informal worship, using keyboard, flute, clarinet and guitar, and some prayers.

It began four years ago, as a way of engaging with Shorwell villagers on Sundays when there wasn’t a service at St Peter’s Church. It now attracts between 20 and 40 people of all ages every third Sunday of the month.

Reader Peter Johnson, who currently leads the gatherings, said: “I’m a teacher, so although I like lectures, I know that if you want to engage people, sermons aren’t always the best way to do it. We might introduce a topic and then ask people to say what they think, or to chat in groups.

“People appear to be far more comfortable with that way of engaging, and they’ll often say that they’ve learnt more through discussion and reflection than by just listening. They’ve got more ownership of what they are learning.

“Several people from Brighstone help with the music, and we now project the words onto a screen. Not everyone who normally goes to church in Shorwell is there, but several people who wouldn’t normally go to church do come. It has become a separate congregation, and we’ve had three baptisms from within that group.

“It’s also the case that adults and children are learning together – the children don’t get sent out elsewhere. I think that’s healthy.”

The Moot will next meet on Sunday 17th March in Shorwell Village Hall from 10.30am-11.30am, and then on the third Sunday of each month.