CALDECOTT Park in Rugby is the first in the country to operate a Park Pastors scheme.
The pioneering pastors, Matt Caldicott and Aaron Lincoln, have joined forces with Rugby Borough Council to start the new initiative.
The town already benefits from the Street Pastors scheme, and now the town centre park will also be covered with daytime patrols.
The scheme was launched on Friday with a brief commissioning service led by the Right Reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry.
Matt Caldicott, park pastor, said: “We want to connect with some of the 650,000 people who visit the park each year, and where necessary build supportive relationships and offer a listening ear. We especially want to connect with dads who bring their children to the park - there are lots of gathering places for mums and kids, but not so many for fathers.”
Both Matt and Aaron have young children and want to put on family events, including a dads and kids football session on Saturday mornings.
The park pastors will work alongside Trevor Hoyte, Rugby Borough Council’s Park Ranger, helping out around the park as well as focusing on community activities.
Matt added: “We want to be open about our Christian faith, to stimulate discussion and engage with the gritty reality that there is sometimes a lot of brokenness in people’s lives. We want to help with that, be good listeners and help people think through some of the questions that come up as we encounter the difficulties that life throws at us.”
Speaking at the launch event, Bishop Christopher said: “The Park Pastors scheme is a wonderful example of Partnership between the council and the church. Parks are often important places for their communities, and it is pleasing to see the partners working together for the good of the community.”
Cllr Dr Mark Williams, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for Sustainable Environment, said: “Caldecott Park is the most visited destination in Rugby town, and is rightly popular with families and young people.
“Having safe, experienced volunteers on hand to help out will make the park an even more attractive place to visit, and I look forward to seeing how the scheme develops. Being the first scheme of its kind in the country, I’m sure other towns and cities will be looking on with interest.”