This Friday we introduce the blog of estates priest and practitioner, Joe Halser at http://www.joehasler.co.uk/
Joe grew up in a working class area in South London and worked for 17 years as a community development worker and has been an Anglican priest for 25 years on estates in Birmingham, Essex, Liverpool and Bristol. His Masters research is on Mission and Working Class Culture.
Firstly, there is a lot of rich reflection from Joe on the experiences of people in his community in Lockleaze, Bristol, as people gradually discern their gifts and what God is calling them to do. The documents on Joe’s reflections can all be downloaded from his website. An example you might want to look at here is
1. Accidental beginnings lead to core issues This document tells the story of how the community began to identify the first of its local leaders. The other documents reflect on whether this process was specific to that particular estate or whether it was a journey that other parishes and communities could consider adopting or learning from.
Ideas for Liturgy and Learning on Estates
Joe generously shares plans he has developed for services which can take place outside the church building and are physically interactive. These can be found by clicking here.
He has also developed a Christian Basics course specifically for people on estates. He sensitively points out barriers to learning such as negative experiences at school and has designed the resources so that they can be accessed by anyone who has difficulty with reading. The focus is very much on the physical presence of Jesus. These can be downloaded here.
Theological Models of Community Development
If you are a community worker or church leader on an estate you might want to take a look at Joe’s Theological Resources for Community Development
The brilliant thing about these papers is that Joe links perspectives drawn from liberation, feminist and Black theology to reflections on real experiences of communities working together to address serious issues. He goes into thorough detail about the reasons why concerns from people on estates have not been listened to by the local council and how people respond. An example is when children are seriously hurt and hospitalised by fast moving traffic on a dual carriageway.
The hope is that despite the injustice of power structures which appear to brush the cry of the poor under the carpet, changes can be made because people have risen up and asked for basic human rights like road safety and adequate housing to be taken seriously.
For anyone who sees their role in the community as a calling and a ministry, not just as a job or a place where they happen to be living, there is much food for thought in Joe’s writing to chew on.