News and Articles
26 February 2019
United Parents (UP) is the only Christian Single Parents group in Hampshire. It has been running as a ministry of Above Bar Church since 2014, and now about 15 single parents gather to support one another. We hope they feel loved, acknowledged, accepted, seen, and valued through this group.
Although one in four families (2 million) in the UK is headed by a single parent, single parent ministry is not often on the radar of the church at large, but it needs to be. Not only because of our obligations as followers of Jesus to care for the vulnerable and marginalised (Exodus 22:22-23; James 1:27; 1 Timothy 5), but also due to the high numbers of single parents in our society. Jesus was really passionate about reaching out to people who were on the fringes, and, similarly, UP exists to show single parents in Southampton that church, Jesus, God and Christianity are compatible with being part of a single parent family, and to encourage them.
UP has provided breakfasts with childcare (thanks to some fabulous volunteers), dinners out and in, cream teas and walks in the Forest, a picnic to Church in the Park, and bowling. Many people’s favourite event is the Mothers' Day Pamper Morning, which will be running this March (for the third year running). Lots of single parents do not have family locally or have involved second parents, so are completely on their own. It’s really isolating not having money or a babysitter to be able to go out and do things with friends, so UP has become a community where people feel uplifted and feel they belong.
Here’s what some UP members say:
“I really appreciate the group and I am so happy I can be part of it! Look forward to the next meeting and it’s very important for us to be able to share our stories without being judged because I couldn’t tell this to everybody I know, as I feel like I have failed. But your words [Rebecca] were very encouraging and I will be thankful to God for entrusting me to be the mother of this baby. It’s so special!”
When Above Bar Church enabled the kids of a couple of single parents to go to Big Church Day Out (BCDO) with their parents last year, this was the response:
“Thank you for making it possible for us to have this wonderful experience! I know God has planted fruitful seeds in our children’s hearts and gifts that will stay with them for life and it’s been a great bonding experience.”
“What an amazing time we had – hey ... praise God for his grace and for making it possible. Thank you for blessing us with this opportunity to share the love of Jesus and to bring our children closer to God. It was priceless.”
Ruth Spradbery and Rebecca Harrocks have been leading UP since its inception. During 2019, Rebecca (pictured) is going to undertake a 6-month project to help Above Bar Church develop United Parents. She has been able to raise her own funds to do this and we are very excited to see how the ministry will develop and how God will use it to enable single parents to feel loved, acknowledged, accepted, seen and valued.
If you would like to support United Parents in prayer or in other practical ways, contact Rebecca and Ruth by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow the UP Facebook page for frequent updates and to meet other members of the community.