“Oh! glorious day!” … “What a beautiful game!” … Exclamations and praises that were heard coming from the lips of many from the Cornerstone Team late on Sunday 24th June. It had been a fantastically sunny day, if you remember, and England playing Panama in the World Cup had won by the most breath-taking and record-breaking score of 6-1.

That day, the congregations of Thurnby and Houghton had been out for a day in the country, to the farm of Tim and Audrey Dixon at Hungarton. We’d taken over Tim’s barn for the afternoon, bringing along picnic lunches and games; he’d provided trailer rides and farm tours, as well as a bouncy castle and access to his swimming pool. Anita and Barbara and their trusty teams had laid on tea and cakes at 4pm and Rob and Lizzie had organised a service in the barn to top off the afternoon.

But the icing on the cake for many was the rigging up of a screen with a live TV stream, to watch that all important match. This hadn’t been easy to make happen, but the dogged diligence and persistence of Steve and Matt, helped by Tim (Thurnby’s tech chap), had resulted in a lot of happy people not having forgo their football fix. And it all added greatly to the heavenly, holiday atmosphere. People were so relaxed and friendly, enjoying being church together away from church, relaxing and chatting, spending time with folks they didn’t know so well.

We even welcomed a family of strangers – they’d been looking for an Open Garden to visit, turned into the farm by mistake and ended up enjoying an afternoon with fun loving Christians instead!

The afternoon was a great success. The two congregations were able to mingle and get to know one another better, and then join as one in worship in an informal service in the barn, during which a collection was taken for Tim Dixon’s missionary work in Romania. A highlight of the service was the response of seven year old Shona, who when asked what was the best thing about being a Christian (she said she’d been a Christian since she was one) was, had said “reading my Bible and being with my amazing church family”.

It was truly a wonderful afternoon, a taste of heaven, and a day that will linger in our memories long after that legendary score by England is forgotten.

– Maggie Turnbull