Who is Paul Garratt?
Paul Garratt is an author and conference speaker, he is also a partnership manager at Cinnamon Network and is part of Churches in Communities (CiC) International.
Born in Crewe to Christian parents he waxed strong in the Lord from an early age. His parents along with Paul and his three brothers established themselves in the small town of Winsford in Cheshire where the boys grew up.
Paul's father worked as a labourer in a local packaging factory and was the pastor of a small, independent charismatic church. Faith and church played a central role in the boys’s lives and Paul remembers becoming a Christian as a child and vividly recounts the experience when he gets opportunity:
“I remember my mother explaining to me that Jesus came to die to forgive our sins and that we had to be truly sorry. As I repeated the prayer of salvation after her, I became aware that God’s presence was filling my entire being”.
Despite the small church only having a handful of members and few others his own age, every Sunday became the highlight of the week for Paul and he attended as many meetings as he could:
“I loved attending special church services in Manchester with guest speakers such as Don Double, Peter Gammons and Jonathan Conrathe [of the Good News Crusade], and thinking, that’s what I want to do when I grow up!”
God speaks and acts:
During his early teenage years, Paul, uncharacteristically, began to experience poor health so his mother took him to the doctors to find out what was wrong. After quite a bit of investigation and seeing more than one doctor, it was assumed that he might be struggling with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) aka chronic fatigue syndrome.
Some time after this during a family caravaning holiday up in Scotland, Paul’s mother shared a verse from the bible with him that made him think deeply about how someone hear's God voice. As his mother read Jeremiah 33:3 with him she encouraged him to take time out and seek God for answers.
“I remember lying on my tiny bed in the caravan thinking, ‘How do you seek God?’ But after spending some time concentrating on the Lord... He suddenly spoke to me, and it changed my life.”
Following another dramatic encounter with the Lord on the beach, Paul experienced God miraculously touching and healing him - at the same time he received an inner strength and a purpose for his life! He couldn't wait to tell his mum!
After the family returned from their holiday Paul returned to school with a deep desire to share his new found hope in Christ with his entire year group. The trouble was how on earth was this going to happen? Strangely, a public speaking competition was set for the school and Paul put his name down to audition. When his turn came to speak to his class he delivered a speech based upon the fifty-second chapter of Isaiah in the Old Testament of the bible. There he spoke passionately about the LORD's Coming Salvation - "Awake, awake O Zion, come clothe yourself with strength!"
After his powerful performance before his class, he was allowed to go on and speak to the whole of his year group. Little did the young teenager know but this was the start of his speaking ministry.
Graduation to Reading:
After completing his A-Levels at Sir John Deane’s College, Northwich, Paul moved to Reading to train for full-time Christian ministry with the Barnabas Fellowship of Churches. One of the early assignments was to pioneer a ministry at the church where he was based. He and his good friends, Matt Stubbs and Nicola Parkins (now Whittaker), began a youth work that over time grew and was soon to become one of the largest youth works in Reading, with over 100 weekly members. As He reflects on those days he says: “Ministering to a generation - many of whom had never heard the gospel, was an incredible privilege.”
As part of his growing role, he began to be invited to speak at youth events around the country and also helped to set up a successful town-wide gathering of youth pastors in his home town of Reading.
More importantly, it was during this season of travelling and speaking that Paul met a young lady called Heather whilst on a mission together. Romance and love soon blossomed and Paul and Heather married in Penzance, Cornwall, where Heather had grown up.
Reading Community Church:
Paul was shortly appointed Assistant Minister in Reading Community Church (now The Gate) and also completed an MA in Divinity. He and Heather were tasked to plant a church congregation in Calcot – a diverse community on the edge of Reading. The couple first began by starting a youth work, then added a children’s ministry; and before long they were engaging with the majority of the families in Calcot! As they engaged with the local community they payed that God would open doors for them to have a permanent meeting place - somewhere people could call 'church'. Following much prayer and continued community engagement, Paul and Heather were able to secure the use, and the eventual purchase, of a decommissioned Church of England building and manse. They moved into the manse and started a series of local community projects, including a choir, parents café, a job club, indoor sports group, and a ministry to the elderly. The site also accommodated a successful TLG centre (Transforming Lives for Good), which helps churches to come alongside struggling children, bringing hope for a better future. It also ran a CAP Course (Christians Against Poverty).
As Paul became more involved with community life he was asked to join the steering group of a local strategic partnership by West Berkshire Council, which helped the work of the congregation to rapidly develop in scale and focus. “Our vision was simple: to make the church the heart of the community” says Paul. In 2015 the local council nominated Paul and Heather's work in Calcot for the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.
The Final World Empire:
In August of 2014 WestBowPress published Paul's debut book - The Final World Empire: A 'Revived Roman Empire' in Europe. Throughout the 166 pages within the covers Paul unpacks an easy-to-read history of the church and seeks to unravel the mystery of the fourth empire spoken of by the prophet Daniel, a subject which has has Christians debating for millennia.
In these pre-British Brexit days Paul identifies all four World Empires and exposes the current evolution of the European Union which he writes is 'intrinsically linked to Bible prophecy'. He also seeks to help the reader Understand what God seeks to do in Europe, and at this most anticipated moment in history, enables the reader to rise to unparalleled levels of influence in their sphere of ministry!
In 2016 having witnessed the power of the gospel being demonstrated through both word and deed in the community work at Calcot, Paul rubbed shoulders with Matt Bird, the founder of the Cinnamon Network. The Cinnamon Network is a charity that supports churches across the UK and Ireland helping them to transform their communities through social action in partnership with others.
Matt invited Paul to join him in his work to specifically help broker partnerships between Cinnamon, public services and churches in the south of the UK. This was a role that he readily accepted and excelled in.
It was during this intense period of time though that Pauls wife Heather began to struggle with her health, tests followed and the root cause was diagnosed to be cancer. This began a 2 year battle against the desease.
Hampshire's Demand Reduction Partnership:
However the couple where determined to continue in the work that God had laid before them and Paul set about negotiating Cinnamon Network community partnerships with 11 police forces and one local authority. In 2017 Paul successfully negotiated a demand Reduction Partnership with Hampshire Police Constabulary and Hampshire County Council, which supports local churches across Hampshire, helping them to show Jesus’ love in action across the county. At the launch event on 24 April 2017 at the Ashburton Hall, Winchester Hampshire’s Chief Constable Olivia Pinkey, and Transformation Lead for Hampshire County Council, Dan Stoneman, were guest speakers alongside Paul himself. Each shared local priorities and their hopes for the partnership. The launch event also provided people with the opportunity to learn about the five ways that Cinnamon Network works with a community partnership:
- One-to-one support from a Cinnamon Advisor who can assist you and your church to better understanding the needs of your community, the resources you have and what project best brings those needs and resources together.
- An opportunity to choose from one of 30 Cinnamon Recognised Projects to impact your community.
- Access to a £2,000 Cinnamon Micro-Grant to help kick-start a Cinnamon Recognised Project, and assistance in evaluating its impact.
- The opportunity to boost the skills and confidence of project volunteers and leaders through our Cinnamon Leadership Training Programme, which is available upon request in your area.
- Cinnamon Civic Support – providing research and resources to strengthen your civic relationships and partnership working, including Cinnamon Faith Action Audits and Civic Prayer Events.
Paul talks passionately about the work of Cinnamon Network:
“We have an unprecedented opportunity to forge strong, dynamic partnerships between local churches and the civic sector to ensure that those most in need receive relief, help and support.”
Paul and Heather registered their personal ministry with Churches in Communities International (CiC) that same year and Paul was invited to join the staff team as the acting International Coordinator. CiC provides accountability, representation and encouragement for the independent church sector. “It is a privilege to serve such a diverse number of networks, churches and ministries. We share the goal of the AD 2000 movement, which is to see a culturally relevant church within everyone’s reach, worldwide”. Paul is helping to promote the work of CiC across the UK.
Planning Wessex Filling Station
Paul had been talking to Wessex Filling Station about coming to speak in Bournemouth since 2017. A date in 2019 had been talked about but due to a change in circumstance Paul was invited to come and speak in July 2018 after another speaker cancelled. During the planning conversations Paul shared how his wife Heather was again suffering with her health but they were adamant that he would continue in the work that God had called him to do. Paul was also booked to be one of the keynote speakers at the London RESET Conference in May 2018 - it was the 10 year anniversary of the conference and Paul was booked to speak at the Youth Conference alongside Pastor Tayo Ogunmefun at the Christ Royal Church Auditorium. However shortly before the event Paul's wife Heather was sadly taken very ill and shortly passed away in hospital.
Paul is determined to continue the work that God has inspired him to complete. He confirmed that he is committed to not only to speaking in Bournemouth but looking for further opportunities to build strong links between the local church and the civic communities to better Dorset for the love of God.
Let's see he may come bearing gifts.