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Official Opening …Opening the Gates for Good.. 12th November 2019

What a Special Day!

The following words belong to a new song, created especially for this momentous occasion, by Salvation Army staff and students and performed by the Liverpool Signing Choir on the day. I include them at the start, although the Choir sang the song later. The words encapsulate beautifully the aims and aspirations of the newly regenerated Strawberry Field.

OPENING THE GATES FOR GOOD


Looking at the gates you forget the place that once had stood behind.
I hear the echoes of children’s voices, hands reaching out to mine.
A place of care they once called home.  A place of inspiration.
A place to tune out and be free, but use your imagination .

‘Cos we’re opening the gates, opening the gates, opening the gates for good.  
Opening the gates, opening the gates, opening the gates for good.

Let me take you to the place where the story’s new, where transformation starts.
Where misunderstanding is understood, we all can play our part.
We’re tearing down barriers, we’re facing fears, exploring and growing together.
Courage to take the hardest step into a new forever .

Now we’re opening the gates, opening the gates, opening the gates for good.  
Opening the gates, opening the gates, opening the gates for good.
Opening the gates for good.

 

All the initial ideas, all the sourcing of the right builders and the right funding, all the physical and spiritual labour  involved in the wonder that is the rebirth of Strawberry Field, came to fruition on 12th November 2019. The official opening,

The Steps-to-Work programme was already well under way, right inside the new building. The Exhibition was up and running, as was the cafe and the shop. Official Openings tend to be like this….as if to check that it will work before making any public announcement! In fact, at least one of the students didn’t come to the celebration, as she was committed to her work placement! A firm testament to the early success of all that planning.

The weather was…well, winter weather. In fact, rain and wind combined to soak and chill at once. There was a large marquee set up outside to shelter us for the speeches. The Salvation Army’s UK leader, Commissioner, Anthony Cotteril, led the the special ceremony of dedication and worship, with talks then following, highlighting the STW programme. Then we all  went to the main entrance, where I was honoured to share cutting the ribbon with  the Commander.

Once inside the cafe area, there was definitely an air of excitement. Things were happening…unusual things. Jerry Goldman read a Hebrew Prayer.

Prayer

Psalms Chapter 138 תְּהִלִּים

א  לְדָוִד:  אוֹדְךָ בְכָל-לִבִּי;    נֶגֶד אֱלֹהִים אֲזַמְּרֶךָּ. 1 [A Psalm] of David. I will give Thee thanks with my whole heart, in the presence of the mighty will I sing praises unto Thee.
ב  אֶשְׁתַּחֲוֶה אֶל-הֵיכַל קָדְשְׁךָ,    וְאוֹדֶה אֶת-שְׁמֶךָ–
עַל-חַסְדְּךָ    וְעַל-אֲמִתֶּךָ:
כִּי-הִגְדַּלְתָּ עַל-כָּל-שִׁמְךָ,    אִמְרָתֶךָ.
2 I will bow down toward Thy holy temple, and give thanks unto Thy name {N}
for Thy mercy and for Thy truth; {N}
for Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name.
ג  בְּיוֹם קָרָאתִי, וַתַּעֲנֵנִי;    תַּרְהִבֵנִי בְנַפְשִׁי עֹז. 3 In the day that I called, Thou didst answer me; Thou didst encourage me in my soul with strength.
ד  יוֹדוּךָ יְהוָה, כָּל-מַלְכֵי-אָרֶץ:    כִּי שָׁמְעוּ, אִמְרֵי-פִיךָ. 4 All the kings of the earth shall give Thee thanks, O LORD, for they have heard the words of Thy mouth.
ה  וְיָשִׁירוּ, בְּדַרְכֵי יְהוָה:    כִּי-גָדוֹל, כְּבוֹד יְהוָה. 5 Yea, they shall sing of the ways of the LORD; for great is the glory of the LORD.
ו  כִּי-רָם יְהוָה, וְשָׁפָל יִרְאֶה;    וְגָבֹהַּ, מִמֶּרְחָק יְיֵדָע. 6 For though the LORD be high, yet regardeth He the lowly, and the haughty He knoweth from afar.
ז  אִם-אֵלֵךְ, בְּקֶרֶב צָרָה–    תְּחַיֵּנִי:
עַל אַף אֹיְבַי, תִּשְׁלַח יָדֶךָ;    וְתוֹשִׁיעֵנִי יְמִינֶךָ.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou quickenest me; {N}
Thou stretchest forth Thy hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and Thy right hand doth save me.
ח  יְהוָה, יִגְמֹר בַּעֲדִי:    יְהוָה, חַסְדְּךָ לְעוֹלָם; מַעֲשֵׂי יָדֶיךָ אַל-תֶּרֶף. 8 The LORD will accomplish that which concerneth me; Thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever; forsake not the work of Thine own hands. {P}

If you would like to hear this as a spoken prayer, here is the link:

https://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt26d8.htm.

The Liverpool Signing Choir signed ‘Imagine’ and other Beatle songs. Despite the fact that I always sign ‘Imagine’ with the choir, I still haven’t got it right! Mike McCartney was there in his role as photographer that day and he filmed it . I will post it here soon.

Then they surprised us all by showcasing the brand new Salvation Army song, ‘Opening the Gates for Good.’

 

We had lots of  very welcome media presence that day, both local and national. This included television, radio and newspapers.  We want everyone possible to be aware of the presence of this amazing space and the programme it houses. We aim to encourage British and Overseas visitors to come and enjoy the Exhibition, the cafe, the shop, and the fabulous gardens, in the knowledge that all profits are being ploughed straight back into the Steps-to-Work programme.We have been approached by Japanese and Chinese representatives already. They all want to be a part of Strawberry Field.

Be a part of this family. Share the news, please.

love Julia x