Lighthouse Centre

Social Concern

The word 'evangelical' really means 'good news' and the most powerful good news is, and I quote from Richard Twigg: "God has put away your sins through Christ who died for you. Thank him that he has died for you." While that is the kernel of the good news proclaimed in Christ, so the good news has expressions in ordinary earthly experience. Early in the days of Twigg's ministry, the Rector recognised that 'good news' for the illiterate was the ability to read and write. First stirrings of social concern began with the creation of the first library in Wednesbury in the St James Institute. On Sunday afternoons, the Rector and his staff taught the foundry men and labourers of the area to read and write. During the great cholera epidemics in the second half of the 19th Century, when the well-to-do left for the fresh air of Wales, it was the clergy and nuns of the parish of St James, Wednesbury, who remained to care for the sick and bury the dead. As in other parts of the country, unemployment in Wednesbury during the 1930's was pronounced and the soup kitchens at St James Centre were for many the principal source of food and also encouragement to continue a life hampered by deprivation and disadvantage.

In the 1980's and 90's, that strain of social concern bubbled up again in the life of St James when a training programme was founded by the then Rector who, with a staff of 15 full-time salaried colleagues, provided training and employment for up to 130 teenagers. Many of these salaried colleagues became members of a team which assisted the parish in its ministerial task.