christmas message from necn

At this busiest and most pressured time of year, we would like to thank you for your work as Estate Church leaders.

It is banal to speak of this ‘business-end of Advent’ as being so full as we dash about fulfilling Church and community duties, while also trying to find space for God, for ourselves, and for our friends and families, but it is so true.

We pray that Christmas is good for you.  But also wonder what this might mean?  For many of us it will not be the ‘success’ of hundreds of people through the doors of our churches at multiple services that we see shared so often on social media this week (our advice would be to sit very lightly to Facebook and Twitter the next few days).

We give thanks for so much faithful and good work done by estate churches.  I think of the huge difference we make in so many ways.  The physical hunger that is now, disgracefully, such a part of British urban life.  When we work with primary schools at Christmas, we have to be so  careful in what we say – not now to be the minister who ends up in the newspaper as saying something unwise about Santa Claus – but remembering that Christmas is such a bad time for so many families.  We might think of the utter joy on a mother’s face as she is given a few carrier bags of tinned food from a vestry cupboard.

If we are looking for the meaning of Christmas it is here.  It is in the many overlooked and humble acts of love that Estate Churches make.  If we look carefully, it is here that we might glimpse the face of Jesus.

Fritz Eichenberg, Christ of the Soup Line

Our communities are so often in what Thomas Merton called the time of no room.  Thank you for making the space that matters.  Space for God.  Space for those who he truly loves.

We are reminded of Fr Joe Williamson remembering a childhood in poverty a hundred years ago:

My first day at school stands out clearly in my mind. A crust of bread and a kiss was my breakfast as I ran across the road to St Saviour’s, at the age of five. When I got to school, there was placed before me a white mug of hot milk and a bun; it looked very big. I couldn’t believe it was for me. I looked up, and there was a big fat man in black, with a funny hat looking down at me. He had a big face with a double chin; he was smiling; it was a lovely face. The man put his hand on my head and said, simply: ‘Eat.’ That was Father Dolling, and I think I have felt that touch ever since.

– Father Joe, The Autobiography of Joseph Williamson of Poplar and Stepney

We need those smiles, that deep, practical love that shows the Face of the Lord.  May you experience that love of God this Christmas.  May you pass it to others.

With love and prayers from all at NECN

 

Lynne, Sara and Andy

advent news

Dear Friends,

We are making some changes at NECN to help us increase the amount we can do and to make us more effective.  This post is to update you on this and to ask if you can play a part.

People.  Andy Delmege has stepped aside from our Board and is now our Executive Director.  Our funding from Allchurches Trust means he is able to give two days a week to NECN and is concentrating on building up and supporting a national network of Estates and Urban Groups.

Andy Delmage NECN Exec Director
Andy Delmage NECN Exec Director

Christine McAteer is our half time Support Officer, ensuing that everything happens behind the scenes.

NECN Support Officer
NECN Support Officer

 

We have a new Chair and Vice Chair.  Lynne Cullens is our Chair.  Lynne is Rector of Stockport & Brinnington and a member of the C of E’s Selection Oversight Group, Estates Evangelism Task Group and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Local Community.  A former CEO, she was born in Ordsall, Salford and blogs on issues of culture and the Church at lynnecullens.com.

Chair of NECN
Lynne Cullens Chair of NECN

 

Sara Barron is our Vice Chair.  Sara is an accredited Baptist minister and until recently she has had a pioneering ministry on a large council estate near Portsmouth where she lived for 16 years. Sara is a trustee of Incarnate Network, NECN and Estates Evangelism Taskgroup. Sara works half time as development worker for CURBS, which resources, trains and supports children’s workers in urban and estate areas. Having recently moved to Looe in Cornwall Sara is spending a year of missional listening in this new context before embarking on pioneer ministry in Looe. Sara is married to Barney, also a Baptist minister, and they have four children.

Sara Barron CURBS
Sara Barron CURBS

 

Structure.

In order to work effectively, NECN is structuring itself around a number of Workstreams.  These are:

Groups; Partnerships; Resources (responsible for conferences, scoping resources, commissioning where there are gaps); Finance and Fundraising; and Communications.

Each one of these will be Chaired by someone who attends NECN Trustee meetings, and will meet several times a year, usually by phone or skype.

Each Workstream will be responsible for deciding how it will contribute to delivering the NECN Vision and Strategy.

In a year, we will review whether we have capacity to open new Workstreams around Children and Young People; Leadership; and Planting and Pioneering.

Playing a Part.

We need people who have estates and estate churches on their hearts, who have experience and skills, and who have time and commitment, to play a part in this.  This is an important role in seeing estates enabled to become fully alive in Christ and in ensuring that there is a thriving, growing, loving church on every significant social housing estate in the country

If you feel drawn to helping NECN in this way, or can recommend someone who can help, please contact Christine on 0121 426 0436 or christinem@cofebirmingham.com and please keep us in your prayers.

Other News

Please keep an eye on the website https://estatechurches.org/ and Facebook and Twitter streams for updates on all things estate church.

If you have any estate church jobs or other news you would like us to share, please email Christine.

We will have news of our National Conferences for 2020 very soon.

If you have time, check out the first in a series of podcasts from the Estates Theology Group on Good News from the Estates

https://soundcloud.com/the-church-of-england/finding-the-treasure-good-news-from-the-estates?fbclid=IwAR19vBrw_AAFjzQEfHgKPIWQLbcO_doJAiuJ2c14cIl4Qdo3vAQgtkwpkIo

 

We are in the season of Advent and drawing near to Christmas, with all that brings.  A friend wrote to me this morning:

Safeguard (jealously) those moments when you can go and find the space, time and place to be with God however limited in time you are.

I pray that you may have a blessed time.  Thank you for who you are and all you do.

Andy

 

 

 

 

 

parish nursing and estate ministry

When we were drawing up our Mission Action Plan (MAP) for St Luke’s Downham we were eager to follow the example of St Luke and include something about health and healing. So it came as an answer to prayer when, entirely unprompted by us, a retired nurse contacted us to introduce Parish Nursing Ministries.

Right from our first meeting with the team from Parish Nursing Ministries UK (PNMUK) we could see how amazing a project this was and the kingdom impact it could have in our parish. St Luke’s is part of the Catford and Downham Team located on the Downham Estate, an inter-war garden estate which is in the top 10% most deprived parishes in the UK. As with many areas affected by poverty there are all sorts of issues with mental health struggles, understanding medication, and accessing services, etc.

We originally explored establishing the project with a volunteer nurse, but our volunteer nurse had to cease due to health issues, so we decided to explore options for a paid nurse and were successful in obtaining funding to recruit for 8 hours a week.

The project launched in April 2019 and our Parish Nurse, Becky, has already become a key member of our team and is seeing a steady stream of people. She is a regular attender at the Front Room Club, our drop in for people who are isolated and struggling with mental health difficulties, and at the Food Bank. The support, encouragement and training from PNMUK has been brilliant and invaluable.

Becky writes the following about her ministry:

“With a background working on inner city estates as a district nursing sister, I was not surprised by either the stark poverty or the warm hospitality of the services users I’ve encountered since starting parish nursing. However, the most rewarding part of the work is the ongoing relationships that can be developed as there is no limitation to number of consultations or sticking to one health problem or condition. This is incredibly rewarding for me and effective for the service user as it enables a holistic view of their health, mental, physical, social and spiritual.

The food bank provides different challenges, including helping people in temporary accommodation struggling to access a GP, people in mental health crisis precipitated by sudden financial hardship or relationship breakdown who don’t know what help is available, as well as help with hospital letters for those with low literacy levels. Many service users are distrustful of the NHS or struggle to keep appointments due to chaotic lives, so my presence provides approachable health advice and signposting in a non-health service context.”

I would not hesitate to recommend a partnership with Parish Nursing Ministries UK to any estate church looking to reach out to and serve their community through health ministry. Funding to set up the project can be obtained from the Cinnamon Trust Micro Grants scheme, amongst other grant making groups.

Rev. Nick Walsh

Team Vicar, St Luke’s and St Mark’s Downham, Diocese of Southwark

finding the treasure

Listen to this very wonderful monthly series of podcasts from the Estates Theology Project, part of NECN’s partners at the Estates Evangelism Task Group.

Click here to hear the first one from Wythenshaw in Manchester: Finding the Treasure – Good News from the Estates

Today a fifth of the Church of England’s 12,500 parishes are estimated to be ‘estates parishes’ meaning that they include at least 500 social housing homes, however, half of these ‘estates’ currently have no Church of England Worship centre within them.

Over the last two years, to try and address this, the “Church of England’s Estates Theology” project has been pairing up local ministers, vicars and priests, with academic theologians. This podcast series is showcasing this work and how the project has helped churches and their neighbours to reflect on what gifts God has given them to share together.

In this episode, presenter Liza Ward travels to the Wythenshawe estate in Manchester to to learn how a new project brought William Temple Church closer to those in their local community.

small pilgrim place

One of our member Churches, St Michael’s LEP on the Gospel Oak Estate in Hall Green, Birmingham, has become a Small Pilgrim Place.

There are full details of it here , and the Small Pilgrim Places website is here

Are any other Estate Churches places of pilgrimage? (I can think of Penrhys in South Wales).  It would be great to get some pilgrimages going …