Who is Paul Garratt?
Paul Garratt is an author and conference speaker, he also heads up the Business Development and Grants Team at Cinnamon Network where he travels widely inspiring community development especially among churches. He 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 Encephalitis (M.E.) aka chronic fatigue syndrome.
Some time after this during a family caravan 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 those pre-Brexit days Paul identified 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 Paul rubbed shoulders with Matt Bird, the founder of the Cinnamon Network. 'Cinnamon' 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 Paul's 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 disease.
Hampshire's Demand Reduction Partnership:
However the couple were determined to continue in the work that God had laid before them and therefore he set about negotiating community partnerships with 11 police forces and one local authority.
Paul talks passionately about the work of Cinnamon Network and says:
“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.”
Tragically in June 2018 Heather was sadly taken very ill and rushed into hospital, she passed away shortly afterwards.
Wessex Filling Station
Determined to continue in ministry, Paul spoke at the London RESET Conference, and then travelled to speak at Wessex Filling Station during July 2018.
As we look forward to his second visit - which will kick off the ON THE ROAD 2019 series of meetings - we pray that God will continue to use Paul in his important ministry of encouraging community actions. We note that he has recently been promoted to oversee the Business Development and Grants Team at Cinnamon across the country which will see churches and communities transformed through good works.