In the North of England, on the property of the Cramlington Nazarene Church, sits a little grey shed bubbling with the sounds and smells of tea and community. Neighbors pop by to enjoy a warm mug on a chilly day. Students stop in for biscuits and juice while walking home from school, lingering in the cozy atmosphere of The Jubilee Shed.
“We have always looked for ways into our community,” says one of Cramlington’s Pastors, Rob Fitzjohn, recalling the origins of The Jubilee Shed. In 2018, the church congregation prayed over their building and its property, asking God what to do next. The Lord brought the idea of a little coffee shed to the hearts and minds of multiple people.
But first, God asked them to garden.
“He supplied all we needed,” Rob remembers, starting with a hedge around the property “to keep little ones safe.” Next, someone donated funds for chairs and picnic benches. Finally, the congregation added raised garden beds for produce to share. The grounds were welcoming, and seeds had literally been planted to create a home for what was to come.
In November 2022, a donor funded the material for a small shed. Someone else donated coffee machines and everything needed inside to launch the neighborhood cafe. Others volunteered to staff the cafe, brewing pots of coffee and tea for anyone willing to stop in. Rob says that it has “created a space for the community to be and relax.” The Jubilee Shed is open as often as volunteers are available. “We serve free teas, coffees, biscuits, friendship, and a listening ear,” he says. “And if need be—a hug.”
The church’s ministries have also provided opportunities to partner with other programs in the area. The Jubilee Shed and gardens helped Cramlington win best overall community at a regional competition this year, which has led to local leadership and area organizations calling upon the church to help speak into the Cramlington community.
“The shed helps us engage with our community,” Rob says. “It’s a space for them to ask us questions. It provides a warm space for family members watching their children play football matches. We have started a kids’ craft group. We serve mums, dads, grannies, and grandads teas and coffee on the school run. Some folks also just get a coffee or tea and go sit in the gardens or picnic areas for some quiet alone time.”
God has continued to provide for this tiny cafe with a big vision. Neighbors who frequent The Jubilee Shed have donated materials like outdoor heating and coverage to keep the space warm and dry through inclement weather and winter.
“We know God has a plan for all this ministry,” Rob says. “We have witnessed and seen how he has supplied our needs to create the gardens and shed. We have seen how he has started friendships and conversations within and with our community. We pray we will always be listening for his guidance and direction as these ministries are used for his glory and his kingdom. We know he has also confirmed more community-oriented projects, and we are excited for the next chapters ahead.”
– written by Pastor Rob Fitzjohn and Sarah Norris