The Board of Trustees of NECN are delighted to announce the appointment of our new Executive Director, the Revd Sara Barron. Sara comes to NECN as a former trustee and Vice-Chair and brings with her a wealth of experience of, and passion for, estates ministry. She introduces herself below and she will take up her role in January 2021.
As a Board, we are very much looking forward to Sara leading us in this next phase of NECN’s life and development, and we continue to be grateful to Allchurches Trust for their generous funding which enables us to develop our work in supporting estate churches, practitioners and evangelism nationally.
I am excited to introduce myself as the new Executive Director of NECN. I am looking forward to getting to know lots of you but here is a little bit about me.
I am married to Barney, we have four children and are both Baptist ministers. We moved to Cornwall 2 years ago to a missional listening role in the economically poorest county in England. However, previous to that I lived and worked for 16 years in a large estate of 33,000 called Leigh Park, close to the city of Portsmouth. Here we started ‘Café Church’, a place for those who had no experience of church to come and explore the gospel story. The last few years in the estate, having established the church, I worked as a pioneer for the Diocese of Portsmouth to grow new and different work with the local schools and addressing food poverty, amongst other things.
Alongside that for the last 5 years I have worked for Curbs project (Children in URBan Situations), a small charity which resources, trains, and supports those working in urban and estates ministry with children and families. During my time in Leigh Park, I got involved with NECN and became a trustee and later Vice Chair. This gave me an opportunity to be involved with the Estates Evangelism Task Group as it forged a strategic plan to encourage flourishing Christian presence on every estate. I am excited about NECN’s role in supporting and encouraging those called to serve in our countries’ housing estates.
Please be in touch if you would like to share your story of estate ministry or join one of our many local support groups around the country. I look forward to sharing my love and passion for estates ministry.
If you are looking for resources for the run up to Christmas, look no further. Thanks to generous sponsorship, estate practitioners can order this year’s Christmas HOPE magazine free-of-charge.
Why not distribute them door-to-door or via food bank parcels? If you use the code ESTATE20 you will just have to pay postage. Pick them up here.
There is a little heard real life story that refutes the popular image of Christianity in decline. Church@Five is that story. Through the tremendous efforts of a committed group of activists, led by Helen Shannon, something remarkable has happened on the Strawberry Vale estate over the last ten years. Jesus Christ has come to a North London estate located just off the north-circular road breaking in to numerous lives and bringing transformation. Where many live their lives in aimless drifting, Helen and her team resolved to live intentionally missional lifestyles, daily reaching out to others with the love of Jesus. The magnetic effect of simply loving people has proved irresistible. Through blood, sweat, toil and tears, Jesus has won the hearts of many in the community.
The team have produced an e-book that charts the story of Church@five and some of those whose lives have been changed since 2010. Check it out here.
Huge thanks to all those who took part in our online NECN Conference on 1st July, both as delegates and as presenters.
As with so many areas of current church activity, we learned a lot from the process and thought you might like to see some of the facts, figures, feedback and follow-up from the event.
What went well…
- around 200 delegates signed up for the Conference which we hosted on YouTube and Zoom. There have now been over 800 views of the uploaded content on our YouTube channel, which is a far higher reach than our physical Conferences. Feedback strongly indicates that, in future years, delegates would value there being both physical and online elements to the Conference. We’ll be taking that feedback on board for 2021 Conference planning.
- We asked what delegates found inspiring and the ‘stories from the front line’ given by our various presenters and shared in the breakout groups featured strongly in responses. 87% of respondents said they would like to see more regular estates stories ‘from the front line’, both in regular website and YouTube content. That’s followed closely by 69% of respondents wanting online seminars of relevance to estates ministry, and the same percentage wanting NECN to facilitate a monthly or quarterly online open forum for estates practitioners.
- Key estate ministry concerns were around a lack of local leaders, lack of confidence and lack of resources.
- Some suggested future Conference themes were Working with Secular Partners, Developing Youth Ministry and Leadership, Listening and Community Organising
Plus there were quotes, such as…
‘The lay leader speakers were articulate and inspiring and shared superb insight’
‘It confirmed for me that I have been doing all the right things in the right way, but I just need to be patient’
‘I was inspired by the evidence that progress has been made’
‘I believe your vision is definitely the way forward, to equip ALL people of God’s Church to go out into the community’
‘I found the numbers attending and the locations they represented inspiring. So often we feel alone on our ‘own estate’; seeing so many others in a similar situation and hearing their ‘Good News Stories’ is encouraging, uplifting and affirming of the fact that ‘with God anything is possible’.
‘I enjoyed seeing lots of different faces in their places and finding out about different ways leaders were emerging from estates’
And what we learned from the process…
- Though online access went very well generally, we could direct the breakout group and panel discussions more helpfully in future.
- It would be useful to give an overview of NECN and its work. 46% of respondents were at their first NECN Conference (which is great, welcome!) and some scene setting for them would have been helpful.
So, where now…?
NECN will continue to work to support to all those involved, or interested in involvement in, estates ministry nationally.
We sit on a number of key groups and will continue to advocate for practitioners on those areas of concern raised.
We are also seeking to work more closely with others engaged in urban ministry, to ensure the best possible fit of resources available to estate practitioners and churches.
We’ll be uploading more content, as it’s produced, around the development of local leadership. Our first open forum for estates practitioners will take place online in late September and will pick up themes from the Conference around identifying and nurturing local leaders.
We’ll be transferring content from our toolkit on Pinterest, over to the NECN website over the month of August.
We’ll be delivering the NECN London Conference on 8th October 2020 on the theme of Local Leadership, particularly from a BAME perspective; booking details available soon.
And we’d love you to be an on-going part of our work…
Please do join our mailing list by contacting NECN’s Support Officer, Christine on ChristineM@cofebirmingham.com Christine can also upload details of your estates vacancies, plus any resources you’d recommend to other practitioners, to our website
Please follow NECN on Facebook and Twitter (@NECNestates) and subscribe to our YouTube channel (NECN – National Estates Church Network)
And do get in touch with our Chair, Lynne Cullens, via firstname.lastname@example.org for any of the following
- if you have an estate story or stories to share; there is a real desire to see more regular online content.
- if you are able to give some time to support our Comms team at NECN, headed by trustee Robb Sutherland, in encouraging and supporting estate churches to tell their stories
- if you could be a part of an NECN email ‘Sounding Board’, giving feedback on draft resources, policies and developments
- any further thoughts and feedback on NECN’s work and areas for development
…and to those who responded to say they’d be happy to be contacted post-Conference but left no contact details, we hope you see this and hope to hear from you too!
With thanks from all at NECN for all you’re contributing to estates ministry, wherever you are and in whatever way. You have our continued prayers,
Sara, Robb, Emma, Dave and Lynne
The NECN Conference Team
CHECK THIS OUT! HOPE for all magazine full of helpful articles, encourages stories and all the cost of postage! Watch the clip below to find out more.
To claim your free copies go to https://hopetogether.org.uk/Shop/Products/500233/Hope_Together/Magazines/Hope_for_All.aspx use the code ESTATES2020.
I am pleased to let you know about a new Mission on the Margins Practitioner track. Urban Life have been developing this with St Hild and we will commence accepting students in September.
Mission on the Margins is designed for people who are involved in mission and ministry in marginal contexts and with marginalised communities. We offer a wide range of modules and a flexibility that enables participants to discover the best learning path for them. Participants can be accredited at MA, postgraduate and graduate level or you can follow a non-accredited path. Modules are taught through a mixture of online seminars, further reading and in person sessions at St Hild’s Sheffield and Mirfield centres. I’ve attached a flyer that gives you more information or you can visit www.sthild.org/practitioner-tracks.
We believe that the training we are offering will enable participants to engage in learning that will increase their understanding of their practice. If you have any questions, then please feel free to ask.
Kids Matter has a vision to see every child in need raised in a strong family. We engage local churches to use relational, evidence informed programmes to equip parents and carers in the community who are facing disadvantages with confidence, competence and community enabling their children to thrive. Everything we do is focused on the country’s vulnerable children. We train peer facilitators from churches and they provide ongoing support and supervision to run the programme, help churches connect with new families and to support churches to continue to build relationships with families who have been on the programme.
The parenting groups are small with no more than 4 – 8 parents. The atmosphere is informal, it is always sitting around a table together over coffee, tea and pastries, working together with user-friendly and evidence-informed booklets, all led by the trained peer facilitator from the local church. The programme has been adapted so that it can run via group video calls, along with the facilitator training which is also available online. Even though currently we can’t all sit around a table with tea and coffee we still very much encourage our facilitators to create a warm hospitable atmosphere through zoom, one facilitator even delivered biscuits to each of the participants homes beforehand
You can find out all about kids matter here (www.kidsmatter.org) where you will also find free resources that you can use with families.
Here are few comments on the impact of Kids Matter parenting programmes.
‘These weeks have been a real journey for our family, my 4 year old now says ‘I love you mummy’, he never used to do that before.’
‘It’s helped me massively to realise it’s ok to feel overwhelmed sometimes. Talking to others and realising I am not alone’
‘I realised the importance of eating together as a family we never did that when I was growing up and I felt like my mum didn’t know me.’
‘Kids Matter has proved to be an excellent way to help churches engage with families and caregivers, particularly in areas where family life is a struggle. I would recommend any church looking to nd ways to connect with parents in their parish to explore Kids Matter.’ Rt Revd Dr Graham Tomlin. Bishop of Kensington
with thanks to Jayne Manfredi and Dave Walker