Ecclesiastical Insurance (UK) - who would have thought that this company would have the need for a Christian Workplace Group but it does! Yes Ecclesiastical sounds churchy / Christian and it does indeed have Christian roots, being established in 1887 to protect the Anglican Church. However, over the years, the company has developed and now provides insurance for wider organisations such as charities and heritage property owners. The Ecclesiastical Christian Fellowship has developed within this growing and changing company and Marcus Booth, the founder and leader of this group tells us a little more.
‘The Ecclesiastical Insurance Christian Fellowship in the UK was formed around 10 years ago and has a variety of objectives which include:
promoting Christianity within the Company;
providing an opportunity to reflect on life as a Christian;
creating an “oasis of calm” amongst the business of working life”.
Above all the group seeks to know God’s will for all its members.
The group is non-denominational and includes Catholics, Baptists, Anglicans and those that simply describe themselves as “Christians”. Meetings are held every Tuesday lunchtime and last for around 30 minutes. There is usually a theme to talk through with prayer to finish. A different person leads the session each week.
There are strong links with the local church, Christ Church, Gloucester, which is located next to Ecclesiastical’s UK head office. The vicar there has been to several of the group’s meetings and is involved in the Alpha sessions currently taking place. The group leader, Marcus, feels that at one time he was a most unlikely leader; ‘For many years I wouldn’t have remotely entertained the idea of publicly displaying my faith at work. But I joined a Christians at Work home group 8 years ago in my home of Stoke Gifford near Bristol. I admired the person leading the home group who became a role model for developing my faith and this gave me the confidence to be open about what I do and what I believe.’
Like many Christian Workplace Groups, one of the challenges that this fellowship faces is ensuring that its numbers are maintained and making sure that people are made aware of what the group is doing. At one point in time, numbers had shrunk to three or four people. Marcus adopted some interesting strategies to address the problem. These included advertising a series of sessions on the intranet based on the themes in Pink Floyd’s, “Dark Side of the Moon”. Just the famous logo was enough to attract peoples’ attention and prompted them to enquire what this was all about. Another strategy involved identifying people who were on the fringes of interest in the group’s activities and proactively inviting them to come along. Many responded and there are now twelve members of the fellowship. The subsequent increase in numbers was an encouragement to everyone involved and there is now a strong core of people who enjoy the support and fellowship of the Group. In addition the Alpha course has brought in some new members and it is hoped that they in turn will inspire others to join the group
The Ecclesiastical company culture has an ethos which is very similar to Christian values, in particular, honesty, care and charity. Consequently, the Christian Fellowship is a good fit and has been well supported by managers, in particular, the annual carol concerts and the Alpha initiatives.
The fellowship has been a real support to its members, some of whom have had significant challenges in their personal lives and those of their families during the past year. It has been very uplifting for the fellowship to be able to talk openly about these issues, knowing that each and every member is being prayed for and supported. The fellowship makes a real difference to the lives of its members and makes a real contribution to the life of the work place!