Welcome to Ashton
Chaplaincy within Ashton Town Centre began in September 2002. The vision originally came from Rev. Eric Lawson, a minister in the Uniting Church of Australia, who was serving in the Ashton Methodist Circuit around the Millenium.
Rev. Bob Davies was appointed by the Ashton Methodist Circuit to develop Retail Chaplaincy in the town centre. At the time ASDA nationally was looking for store chaplains and Bob, Eddie (a Congregational minister) and Tubchen ( a Buddhist nun) were taken on by the Ashton store. The consequent national publicity about the ASDA work – we were live on ‘The Heaven and Earth Show’ – was a useful aid in getting to know the retailers in the town. Bob is the sole remaining member of that team.
In May 2004 Ashton Market Hall burnt down. Bob found where the displaced traders were working on the outside market and in previously empty shops. These contacts, and the support given to the Market Hall management team, have made a lasting contribution to the ongoing work.
In February 2009 Rev. Roger Reece joined the ministry team of the Parish of the Good Shepherd, which includes Ashton Town Centre, as a part-time Missioner Priest, with a brief to develop work across the whole town centre community. Roger’s work has included developing monthly café worship in Costa and serving on a council committee.
Roger and Bob meet most weeks and share experiences and plan. They both attend Churches Together in Ashton and Faiths United (Tameside), the interfaith network. Roger is also a Prison and Police Chaplain and Bob is a Hospital Chaplain. This wider work provides opportunites for overlap of ministries : being able to say ‘I’ll go and see your mum in hospital’, for instance, deepens a contact .