Days of new things

One of the things I love about The Dock is that life never stands still… there are always new things to explore and celebrate.

Like the art: loads of the artists on display in The Dock constantly update and refresh their work.  This section – above the comfy couch with the best view in the Titanic Quarter – is kept up-to-date by Makiko, who brings the latest work from her L’Arche group ‘In Other Words’ – a project in which people with and without learning disabilities connect with each other by creating art.

Or the bookstall – as well as a wide section of novels, travel writing and coffee table books to flick through on a rainy afternoon, Dock Cafe was recently the beneficiary of a huge selection of books from the Good Book Shop in Belfast (now sadly no more):

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These books are stacked in the prayer garden, and any questions, queries, interests or doubts you have about any aspect of faith can be explored within their pages!  There’s also loads of different translations of the Bible and lots of devotional works by great authors like John Ortberg and Philip Yancy – so you can sit by the heat of the furnace, or in the sunlight in the Prayer Garden arbour, and take a moment in the middle of a busy day to find some sustenance for the soul.

2014-02-08 10.04.29Speaking of sustenance for the soul – we’re putting plans in place to start an exciting new project in the Dock Prayer Garden over the next few weeks.  A Dock team attended a training day in Willowfield Parish today – watch this space…

And of course I can’t write about new things without mentioning our fantastic new staff members, James and Joachim.  They are currently (hopefully) lying in a darkened room somewhere trying to 2014-02-02 19.32.07let their overwhelmed minds and senses recover from the information-overload of getting stuck straight in to a busy week at The Dock.  You’ll hear plenty more from them as time goes on – in the meantime, if you tweet, you can follow them @DockTQJames and @DockTQJoachim to find out how they’re settling in!

And for everything that changes, the important things stay the same.  Dock Cafe is still a haven, a home and a little slice of heaven for hundreds of people every day – a place for games, chats, prayers, coffees, long lingering lunches, music, shelter from the storm and home away from home.2014-02-07 12.18.13

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The truth is out there

Well here they are… the new faces of The Dock!

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Joachim (left) is our new Development Co-Ordinator.  You’ll be seeing him out and about in the TQ and around the city, forging and Screenshot 2014-02-02 10.24.15strengthening links with churches, businesses and communities, and generally pushing forward The Dock’s vision to build Life in the Titanic Quarter.

Joachim’s was the face I alluded to last week as lurking around in the background on an old Dock movie – actually the video of our Launch Day back in November 2009.  (That’s Joachim’s face 2014-02-02 16.59.52right beside my hand in the thumbnail of the video below!)  It was amazing to watch that footage again on board Nomadic on Sunday night, celebrating the monumental changes which have transformed the TQ over those four years – not least of which was the transformation of SS Nomadic herself, from rusty wreck to stunning heritage asset (and occasional church!)

Launch – Day One from The DOCK Church on Vimeo.

James (on the right) is our new Cafe supervisor.  He has a huge range of experience in various catering posts, including a spell down here 7957111748_76cb37016c_zin the TQ as part of the company catering for the cast and crew of Game Of Thrones.  You’ll be seeing him behind the coffee bar, chatting to the customers, co-ordinating the volunteers, chilling on the sofas and generally making Dock Cafe the nicest place to be in Belfast.

Call in and meet them soon!

A bit of sunshine

As the gale-force winds lash the streets of Belfast today, it feels like a good time to post a blog of some good news.

A cosy day of families sheltering from the rain in Dock Cafe today – and not just relaxing either, construction work of an impressive scale was underway in the toy corner:

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And on a (slightly) bigger scale, how exciting to be part of a place of big dreams where construction work is flourishing, as this great news about the expansion of the TQ movie studios demonstrates:

Lots of games and laughter in the cafe today, even as the rain streamed down the windows.  These families settled in for a mammoth Monopoly tournament:

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And games and laughter and joy are still blossoming all across the city – as this brilliant video celebrating Belfast’s ‘happiest city’ award shows:

Belfast’s St Georges Market has just won a prestigious indoor market award – best in the UK.  The Belfast Giants are on an incredible winning streak.  The Four Corners Festival has provided a rich menu of incredibly powerful peace-building events over the past few weeks.

It’s easy to focus on the negative until we think that the rain and wind and storm is all there is.  We need to take time to sit in the sun sometimes as well – it can always be found in Belfast…


All is revealed!

IMG_2074The great mystery of our age is about to be revealed…

No, not the new Doctor Who – we know that already.  Or KFC’s secret recipe herbs and spices.  I’m talking about the identity of the two new Dock staff members whose posts were advertised before Christmas.

Some things I can tell you… that when we advertised those posts, we were overwhelmed by the response.  And by the quality of 2013-10-11 17.47.33the people applying.  Over several days of interviews, we met many people who each would have been fantastic in our new roles – and there were no easy decisions.  Massive thanks to the amazing applicants who put huge amounts of work and passion into their interviews, and to the panel of Dock members and directors who had to make the tough call.

But the decisions have been made and the offers have been accepted.

And they are:

Going to be announced on board SS Nomadic during our monthly service on Sunday night.   Mwahahahaaa!  You didn’t think I’d give it away so easily, did you?


So make a date in your diaries: this Sunday (2nd Feb), 6pm on board SS Nomadic.  As always, old hymns and new insights, snug between BYKTbEqIQAAW2AYthe decks of a beautiful boat.  And this month, a chance to meet and hear the stories of the two people who will be major characters in the next chapter of the Dock adventure.

See ya there!

(I’ll give you one clue: one of the people in question can be seen lurking around in the background in a very old Dock video; at the time neither of us realised that our paths would intersect again.  OK that’s a rubbish clue, but it’s all you’re getting)

C’mon, my soul…

2014-01-19 08.58.01The Bennetts are just getting ready to head off for a little bit of much-appreciated R&R (hence the pic – an amazing sunrise I watched from the shores of Lusty Beg island during a conference at the weekend – although looking at the rain pounding on the window right now, I suspect it may be wishful thinking…)

Note that there WON’T be a Pilgrimage Walk or Dock Walk this Sunday – but the cafe will be open as normal.  Call in and say Hi to Tegan and the gang!

But just so that you don’t miss me too much, here’s a little curio from the Bennett archives.

I found this video recently when tidying up folders on my computer, and realised that, having gone to all the effort of shooting it and editing it in the midst of the opening weekend of Titanic Belfast, at the time I didn’t actually get round to the final little insignificant step of uploading it to Vimeo so that anyone else could ever see it.  Whoops!

Probably a fairly accurate insight into the state of my mind during that mad, emotional, wonderful time.  And you can get the sense of breathless, pinch-me-I-can’t-quite-believe-this-is-happening-in-Belfast joy from the video itself as well – so coming back to it on a rainy January day nearly 2 years later, it’s maybe a timely reminder of those magical days in 2012 when it genuinely felt as if Belfast was entering a whole new chapter, and anything could happen…

Best Weekend Ever… from The DOCK Church on Vimeo.