Karen Carter from The Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field in Liverpool shared that “Lifewords is a real blessing to us. The resources always hit the right tone, sharing eternal truths that are thought through in a contemporary setting.”
For those familiar with The Beatles' song 'Strawberry Fields Forever', you might be wondering what Strawberry Field is and what connection this might have to The Salvation Army or to our resources.
John Lennon based this hit song on his memories of playing in the garden of Strawberry Field, a children's home run by The Salvation Army. Whilst no longer a children's home, Strawberry Field continues to put supporting young people at the heart of its work. It also continues to be owned and managed by The Salvation Army's United Kingdom and Ireland Territory.
The Salvation Army cast the vision for the new centre in 2016, aiming to give young people with learning disabilities the opportunity to develop their skills through the Steps to Work programme. The redevelopment of the site started in July 2018, with Strawberry Field opening its gates in September the following year as a transformational community where visitors, both local and global, are welcomed in.
As a ‘Fresh Expression Team Member’, Karen and her colleagues seek to “tune into what God is already doing and join in with it.” At Strawberry Field, the Fresh Expression team leads on anything relating to spiritual wellbeing and acts as one of the centre’s three main pillars - alongside the Commercial and Steps to Work teams. The Fresh Expression relates to the development of a fresh expression of church – a Christian community of spiritual exploration, retreat and pastoral care. The aim is to provide a place where people can take time to rest and be refreshed in the company of others.
And where does Lifewords come in? As Karen told us, Lifewords resources are made available in the centre's Prayer Space, and are shared regularly in both on-to-ont and group settings.
The Prayer Space is available whenever Strawberry Field is open, offering a space of peace and sanctuary to visitors and staff. Karen said: “People from across the world visit Strawberry Field and spend time in the Prayer Space. We provide a range of Lifewords books in the room and they really speak to those who use the room. Many people who discover Lifewords’ resources at Strawberry Field then go on to order books for their own churches.”
The Prayer Space is also home to a cross made of stones from the original Strawberry Field children’s home, ribbons of hope that people can tie to a wicker heart in memory of someone special, and a tree of prayer for prayer requests that the team pray through on a monthly basis. The Prayer Space is also used for specific events such as Strawberry Field’s ‘Hopefulness Course’.
Little Book of Prayer has been particularly popular amongst visitors. Pam, who visits Strawberry Field regularly, shared: “this is where I first came across this wonderful small prayer book which you can even carry around in your handbag.”
Karen describes Little Book of Prayer as “an absolute winner.” She continued: “The resource holds amazing words of wonderful truth, presented in a beautiful way. So many people are more visual, and this book speaks to those people too.”
A number of Lifewords’ pastoral resources have also been well received at Strawberry Field. Karen shared: “We have a book of memories and blessings that many people write in to remember a loved one and Lifewords’ Living with Loss is right alongside that book. Many people take a copy of the resource home.”
“Resources in an array of languages were read and taken from the Prayer Space during Eurovision when Strawberry Field encouraged people to visit the centre as a place of sanctuary. We are grateful at Lifewords to have been able to support Karen and the team at The Salvation Army's Strawberry Field in “creating spaces for people to explore Christianity.”