Bangor Inter Church Community Initiative [BICCI] is dedicated to enabling Christians of Bangor and the surrounding area, of all denominations, to become cooperatively involved in addressing needs in the community, particularly those experienced by the most disadvantaged and marginalised.
As a church based organisation BICCI accepts that expressions of Christ’s love through social actions are part of the greater plan to introduce people to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour
A number of Bangor clergy began to meet in 2009 to discuss the possibility of churches engaging with the people outside their walls who are in need. Fifteen church leaders met initially, invited by North Down YMCA and Churches Community work Alliance. Numbers waned quickly, leaving a small group of individuals to imagine how the future of any cooperative working might look. All of the Churches in Bangor were invited to complete a survey, which would allow a database to be established of church engagement with the community. The survey indicated that activity of this type was low, and perceived of as low by leaders of community projects in the area. A number of clergy felt that their churches’ efforts were not reflected in the survey. A meeting was held in a civic centre in the town, to allow for further sharing of information and to map a way forward.
A Steering Group was established in 2011, comprising representatives from a wide range of churches, and the name ‘Bangor Inter Church Community Initiative’ (‘BICCI’) was chosen for the developing project. The group set about establishing a Directory of local churches and their activities. It developed a website to inform about and promote church community activity. Conferences were held to enthuse church leaders. Some small and exciting examples of cooperative working developed amongst church-related service providers, who, hitherto, had not known of one another.
From one such small initiative emerged a ‘Storehouse’ project, providing food and other resources to people in immediate need. This project served as something of a catalyst for practical engagement by church members. Presently, over one hundred church volunteers organise and deliver emergency provision. Thirty seven local churches contribute resources. These facts indicate a substantial spreading of awareness and commitment to the values and purpose of the Project amongst churches and Christians of Bangor.
Thirty seven Bangor churches are now affiliated to B.I.C.C.I.. Churches and Christians of neighbouring towns have expressed interest in developing similar work in their own communities.