What  does it mean to be a Church on the Margins in a time of coronavirus? 

A weekly space for shared reflection in these challenging times
2pm Thursday, for the next 4 weeks (2, 9, 16 and 23 April)


These are extraordinary times for all of us, but what does it mean to be a ‘church on the margins’ and to seek to be attentive to and inclusive of those on margins of society in the current crisis?

We are not offering any answers, but simply a space to reflect together with others on these challenging times, on our own hopes and fears, on the practical and theological issues thrown up by the crisis, and what it means for church, discipleship, ministry and spirituality to be a ‘Church on the Margins’ at this current time.

Each session will start with a short reflection, but mostly be spent in small groups sharing together our own experiences, thoughts and reflections on these questions.

The event will take place via Zoom. You can participate via any internet enabled device with a microphone (laptop, tablet, phone etc) – or simply over the phone. Once you have signed up via Eventbrite, we will send you a link or a phone number that will allow you to take part.

Sign up for one session, or for the whole series. Dip in and give it a go!


Whilst it is possible to participate in Zoom calls from a normal phone, we are also exploring the possibility of holding separate phone-based conversations that could be accessed free of charge from a phone – further details of this in due course.  

The Coronavirus Charity Help Fund Application

For information: deadline 25th March

The Coronavirus Charity Help Fund has been set up by Martin Lewis to help those affected by the coronavirus. Small or local charities are able to apply to receive a grant of £5-20K for specific coronavirus poverty relief projects.

We’re especially interested in projects that directly help people affected by the effects of the virus, such as by giving access to food, toiletries, basic necessities, as well as community projects to help people in isolation.

We are looking for projects that can help people now, so will welcome applications for existing projects that could be scaled up with extra money or projects that are in the process of being set up.

Speed is of the essence so we encourage you to highlight your project’s objectives and outcomes concisely – consider using bullet points rather than lengthy answers. Data will only be used for the purpose of giving grants.

Apply here:


very early spring mailing

Dear friends,

I want to bring you up to date with the events we have planned this year. There are also some other opportunities to meet up with other folk from estate churches.

National Conferences
The theme for this year’s National Conferences is local leadership. The Midlands conference will take place at Coventry Cathedral on Thursday 4th June. The Northern  conference will take place on Tuesday 9th June at Preston Minster. Bookings for these conferences will be open soon.

London Regional Conference 

  • Thursday 8th October 2020
  • Theme/Title: Ransomed, Healed, Restored, Forgiven… With the subtitle: Reconciling and empowering our congregations for leadership
  • Location: St James the Less, Pimlico

NECN has a number of opportunities to get involved:
We are looking for a Volunteer Treasurer, a crucial role in helping us build our work supporting estate churches.  for more details of the role please contact me

We are looking for volunteers to serve on our Workstreams – Resources, Partnerships, Finance and Fundraising, Communications and Groups.  If you are interested in this, please contact Andy for a chat.

Bookings are now open for two important Estate Church Events:

Leading your Church into Growth are holding this year’s three day estate churches’ conference on 17th – 19th June at the Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick. To book visit:

The Eden Network are running a two day conference for any Christian seeking to love where they live called Proximity 2020. This will take place on 15th May – 16th May. Visit https://www.message.org.uk/proximity2020/ to book your place.

I hope you will be able to attend one of these events where we can continue to explore how to raise up and resource local leaders on the estates.

If you would like to get occasional mailing like this from NECN direct to your mailbox, please sign up ahttps://estatechurches.org/

With love and prayers,


finding the treasure – more estate church podcasts

NECN Chair, Lynne Cullens, writes:

In what ways is the Church being called to transformation by those currently marginalised within its structures, by those on our estates?

Privileged to be part of this podcast discussion ‘Finding the Treasure – Good News from the Estates’, chaired by Jamie Hawkey, Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey; this is the culmination of a two year project from the CofE’s Estates Theology Group, pairing up local ministers with academic theologians and helping churches and their neighbours to listen and to reflect on what gifts God has given them to share.

Some sound bites…
“Alternative readings bring out aspects of scripture that couldn’t be seen by others; I would love to put the Bible in the hands of working-class people, of people from estates, and have them teach the Church how to read in the way that they might read” Dr Justin Stratis.

“We are each other’s shining touch; if one of us is down the others will pick us up” Natalie from Rubery

“Another legacy for the Church must be enduring and hot anger at injustice; our listening must never be complacent, we’ve found people living with radical social injustices, we should be angry about that…because in the end we are about transformation” Bishop Philip North.

“The boundary is the place we are transformed…to able to dance on the edges, to learn a new dance together, to be transformed by that participation feels like a necessary and rich thing” Revd Claire Turner

This and the other podcasts in the series are recommended listening for those interested in estates ministry and in the Church’s reorientation to face those currently on its margins.

Huge thanks to Al Barrett for the continued inspiration, as well as for the invitation to take part.

Listen to the podcast here

Group News

A couple of bits of news from our Groups.  The Birmingham Group (pictured) has just had 24 hours away.  A lot of fun and fellowship, with some deep reflection on how Matthew’s teaching helps us to flourish as Estate Churches.  We are very grateful to Stephen Edwards for facilitating this.

The Leeds Group have just put out their January Mailing.

Before you read it, there are now about 20 Estate Church or Urban Church Groups around the country which are part of the NECN family.  Please get in touch if you would like help getting one going in your area.

Estates Support Group

We’d love to see you to the next Estates Group Support meeting.  It is taking place on Thursday 30th of January at St John the Evangelist Church in Bierley.  It is easy to get to from the Motorways.

20 Bierley Ln,
West Yorkshire

As usual we will meet from 12-2pm and begin by worshipping and praying together.  Then we shall share lunch together.  Tea and coffee will be available, but please bring your own lunch.

This is a great opportunity to pray together and support one another.  It is a safe space so do bring any concerns you have or ideas you would like to explore with a few like-minded people.

Annual Conference Day

We are currently in the planning stages for this year’s Estates Conference in Leeds Diocese and we hope to be able to provide more concrete details in the coming weeks.

Annual Conference Day

There has been a lot of action going on with the National Estates Church Network behind the scenes.  Robb Sutherland has recently been appointed a trustee.  Since funding was secured from Allchurches Trust at the end of 2019, a lot of changes have happened to enable the work of promoting estates ministry to grow.  With around 20 other local estates church groups like ours growing around the country, we can expect big things in the coming year.

NECN have also revamped their online presence with a new website and social media presence.

Check Out NECN Online

Synod Vote Anniversary

On February the 22nd it will be the 1 Year Anniversary of the historic vote at General Synod ‘to see a loving serving worshipping Christian Community on every significant social housing estate’.  There will be a series of things across social media to keep momentum going in the movement.  This prayer will be used as part of that and we encourage you to use it that following Sunday in services.

Faithful God,
your compassion embraces all people.
Renew your church in service of the urban estates of our nation;
that anointed by your Spirit
we may bear witness to your power to heal and save,
and the transforming love revealed in your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Estates LyCiG

For the last two years there has been an estates focused Leading Your Church in to Growth course that has been well received.  Robb, Gordon and Martine have all be to it and found it a really useful place to share good practice with people who are all “in the same boat”.

Gordon Dey writes:

‘LyCiG had a major impact on me as a Parish Priest in Holme Wood in Bradford.   After an initial LyCiG ‘experience’ that challenged my own thinking and mission strategy, I was determined to take a parish team with me for a 2nd ‘bite of the cherrry’ so that we would retain and implement the key convictions we identified from the excellent teaching.  I was also glad to attend the first ‘Estates LyCiG’ two years ago, and could see that the benefit of holding such an event enabled the teaching to be more relevant, and the networking more focused.  I warmly commend the 2020 conference to all those who are seeking to grow their church – particularly if you are able to bring others with you.’
This year’s conference is taking place on 17th to the 19th of June.
Book Estates LyCiG Here

Happy New Year

Apologies for the long read.  We pray that your estates church ministry is a blessing to all those you are working with and we hope to see you soon at one of our local gatherings.

The Leeds Estates Church Group

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