Back in the early 1990s, before our recent redevelopments were any more than "a possibility", the question of how we saw our future was under discussion. Bearing in mind an ageing congregation and an absence of young families, a solution proposed by one member, Judith Cule, was to pull the existing building down and replace it with a smaller church together with sheltered housing and shops in the style of the Redditch Ecumenical Church Centre. One of the shops would be a coffee shop and another a FairTrade outlet.
Then things started to happen. We were left a generous legacy with which it was suggested that we replace our pews with chairs - something we had been wishing to do for some time. Despite our poor financial situation in 1995, that was the catalyst we needed to begin fund-raising and commence the redevelopments.
While the larger aspects of redevelopment took most peoples' attention, the coffee shop idea persisted. Judith felt that we should be looking at an ecumenical enterprise, involving financing across the CTEC churches. Premises were looked for within Earlsdon, and one became available in Providence Street - however the costs involved with such an enterprise ruled this out.
At this time Earlsdon Church had a big problem with its image. Some years before, metal gates had been placed across the entrance, principally to protect it from glue-sniffers during the week. However, these gates were saying "Keep Out" to the public in general, while the church itself wanted to provide outreach into the community!
This was when God broke through, and Judith realised that the idea, which could not find a home, should be brought back to the church where it had started. The concept of Wellspring was born.
But why Wellspring?
Let Judith explain:
"I spent many hours trying to work out a name. I played around with the letters of Earlsdon Methodist Church to form a suitable anagram, I looked at this and I looked at that, but to no avail."
"And then - as seems to happen when God is trying to prod, I kept on seeing the word Wellspring. First it was a quote from something called Wellspring in my bible reading manual. Then I discovered a tape called Wellspring (which we now of course have to play in Wellspring). Then Barbara Marshall (our previous Minister) came into our lives, and when she joined us for the first time at our prayer lunch she was wearing a sweatshirt with Wellspring on it! I gasped. So I decided that that was it. Wellspring was to be the name."
Even so, Judith still puzzled over the name, being sure it had a biblical connection, but not being able to find it. It was a year after Wellspring's opening that she found the reference she was seeking, thanks to her bible reading guide and a Gideon Bible. Proverbs 4 verse 23 read: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Now she really was sure!
So what is the vision of Wellspring? Judith reminds us that another of our previous ministers - Pauline Warner - collected well water, to be used for its healing qualities. Wells are fed by a spring, and these signify the Holy Spirit welling up within us. Thus her vision is that Wellspring will be a place of refreshment and healing, a place of restoration for the soul.