**STOP PRESS – New Jesus Shaped People Resource**

Jesus Shaped People logo

Despite our technology, wealth, and 21st Century ‘know how’ we’ve been humbled by a virus, like an elite Premier League Football Club knocked out of the FA Cup by a team no one has heard of.

How did this happen, how can we get rid of it, when will it end, how is it going to affect my future are legitimate questions.

At Jesus Shaped People we felt there is another important question: What is God saying to the churches?

This ‘liminal space’ is a teaching moment, the spectre of suffering, death, economic meltdown, loss, and acute anxiety has at least temporarily arrested our attention and captured collective imagination. To try and help churches we have created a resource that is not an answer, but rather a tool to gather around this question; ‘What is God saying to the Churches?

 ‘Stay Alert to the Spirit’ (SATS) is a 7 week resource that includes material/ideas for worship, small groups, sermons, and intergenerational worship and teaching. It can be used in buildings or on line and offered free of charge.

For further info contact: Brendan Bassett   07470136193 brendan@jesusshapedpeople.net

Making Space for All God’s Children – a reflection by Joe Hasler

Parish Priest
Joe Hasler an estate church priest

 

Joe Hasler is a priest and former community worker who has lived and worked on estates for many years. He blogs about his experience and has created resources on his website http://www.joehasler.co.uk/

Joe has written a reflection  paper to indicate his desire to be engaged in a social evangelisation, alongside his desire for a prayerful and contemplative life.

He also reflects on the way COVID-19 has shaped church communities, discipleship and leadership.

The paper is entitled ‘Making Space for all God’s Children’.

If you would like to read Joe’s thoughts the link is:

http://www.joehasler.co.uk/?page_id=272

Welcome to MITE – Mission in the Edges

Diocese of Guildford Logo

What is MITE?

MITE stands for Mission In The Edges – it is a deliberate play on the story of the Widows mite from Luke’s Gospel:

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘Truly I tell you,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’

Widow's mite

We are a group of Clergy in the diocese of Guildford who meet together 3-4 times a year to share the joys and sorrows of working in and with more deprived communities in the diocese around Surrey and Hampshire.

Sometimes it may feel like we have little to offer and yet we have a huge contribution to make to the life of the diocese – in presence and prophetically reminding that we must take the poor seriously.

We talk about all kinds of topics that affect us from encouraging vocations and making diocesan training more accessible to people with differing levels of education, to what works in services when you have no one to help or do any children’s work and what version of the bible is best understood. How to be resourceful with little.

We share resources that we find useful and helpful and try to learn from each other what things make a difference in our ministries. We connect with different diocesan departments and try to keep the hidden poor in Surrey and Hampshire visible and heard.

We celebrate together the joys of church where you never quite know what the day will bring and the frustration at the systems and injustices that keep people in poverty. We encourage each other to keep on going because our successes and triumphs can be fragile – hard won and easily lost.

One key thing we have been working on after our diocesan conference  with Bishop Phillip North, is trying to find ways to enable wealthier churches to join in with us in ways that will enrich both parties – and to this end we hope that we will be able to feed some of this work – a manifesto if you like into the diocese- born out of our experience.

We are also Part of the National Estate Churches Network. https://estatechurches.org/

If your parish covers an area that has 500 units of social housing and we can help you in any way please do get in touch.

Our Diocesan contact is Danny Wignall  in the PDE dept. Danny.Wignall@cofeguildford.org.uk

Or Kirsten Rosslyn-Smith Vicar St Peter’s Shared Church  kirsten.rs@btinternet.com

Church Plant Interview Series starting Thursday 17th Sept

Church of England Logo

The Church of England Strategic Development Funding supports projects which make a significant difference to the mission of its diocese.

They are hosting a series of Zoom interviews with some of the practitioners from Strategic Development Funding projects on Thursday lunchtimes throughout September and October. The first of these is on Thursday 17th September at 12.30pm and will be a conversation with Rob Fowler about his experiences of leading a church plant in Whitleigh, in Plymouth. Whitleigh is an estate parish and Rob’s experiences will include the highlights and challenges of working on an estate.

To register to watch live, where you’ll be able to submit questions, please click here:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/4515996685509/WN_xi_vMkdCT7SDQffZSEQBKQ

The session will be recorded to watch afterwards. Some of the future conversations will also be with estate parish ministers and we can share the information if you are interested.

Who do you think you are? The “I am” sayings of Jesus

Children's resource

 

CURBS resource material is made up of a number of packs called CURBStone Kits.

These are primarily issue-based and start in the child’s own world, not where we think they ought to be! The aim is to help children make meaningful links between their world and God’s story. Each kit draws on biblical material related to the theme, sometimes used explicitly, sometimes implicitly.

We recognise that many children will be non-readers. In the light of this CURBS  explore other approaches to learning, touching the child’s spirituality through imagination and creativity, the use of visual and aural approaches, and above all through opportunities to build quality relationships with each child. However, CURBS believe that even the best resource is no substitute for relationship.

If you would like to download the free resource exploring the “I am” sayings of Jesus please click here.

To learn more about CURBS please visit https://curbsproject.org.uk/

You can also read more about CURBs fundraising campaign during COVID-19 on our website is you click on https://estatechurches.org/2020/07/curbs-fundraising-campaign-during-covid-19/

The Street Connectors

Firs & Bromford Estate

Our featured blog this Friday is from the Street Connectors on the Firs & Bromford estate on the outskirts of Birmingham, near Spaghetti Junction.

The Street Connectors blog tells the story of how local people and street connectors are connecting people, places, ideas, skills, talents, hopes and dreams. The Street Connector programme is a local partnership between the Open Doors Community Foundation and Firs & Bromford Neighbours together.

Paul Wright coordinates and supports the project as a Street Connector Mentor. People who live on the estate take the lead and do the connecting for themselves.

Firs & Bromford Estate

Bumping places and creating community

On the Our Stories of Connecting tab you will find stories about what people can give and what people are passionate about. These are in the ‘bumping places’ where people might encounter one another as well as the public spaces such as the Village Green in the above photo. The stories are beautifully set out and easy to navigate your way around, illustrated with lots of pictures which show the strength of the community bonds. The whole idea is about being with not doing for neighbours, recognising the treasure of gifts and talents that are already present in the community.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an extra dimension to consider when connecting people on the estate. After all, the whole point of the Street Connectors is to reduce social distancing! Some of the questions that the Street Connectors are still grappling with include:

“How does physical distancing not mean goodbye, farewell, and separation, but promote news ways of presence, closeness, lovingness, and nearness?

How does social isolation not mean loneliness, segregation, and seclusion, but would require new ways of thinking through radical inclusion, solidarity, and mutual support?”

More than ever this means focusing on what is strong within the community, not on ‘what is wrong’ when people have been told to shield because they are vulnerable. The first blog reflecting on how to respond as a neighbour to COVID-19 can be read here. More recent blogs reflect on some extraordinarily creative responses, the joy and the momentum generated in finding new ways to be present to one another, and the lament when something goes wrong. There are also stories of continuing resilience and hope too which can be found on https://streetconnector.com/ourstories/

English My Way

Learning English

English My Way is a programme designed specifically for people living in the UK, whose English language abilities are below Entry Level 1.

The aim is to help adults who have very little or no English language skills to become a part of their local communities. The course can be taught through a mix of tutor-led sessions, on-line learning and a volunteer group activity. You can read more about English My Way here.

There are all sorts of teaching and learning materials including lesson plans, flashcards, assessments and short videos of everyday scenarios. These can be downloaded on https://www.englishmyway.co.uk/teaching-materials 

Topics include the neighbourhood, catching a bus, a child’s school, looking after your health, phoning an ambulance, going to the dentist and going to a job interview. The situations are very practical. For example, one video is about learning how to return a faulty product from the market.

Now that some churches are getting the hang of using Zoom, it would be possible for a tutor to teach remotely too if necessary. The courses can be run at a pace suitable for the local group.

English language class

Finally from the English My Way blog page look out for the lovely video of an enterprising Muslim lady and her friend who prepare their market stall for the first time and use their language skills to interact with the customers. There are lots of other video stories on the blog too.

e3 TV

Certificate in Christian Apologetics

Biola Uni logo

Are you thinking about learning something new whilst at home during the pandemic? Would you be interested in deepening how to explain the Christian faith to people who are not Christian?

Apologetics is the use of reasoned arguments to justify beliefs. Christianity has a long tradition of apologists who have defended the faith.

Biola University in the United States offer on-line courses, seminars seminars and training on the Christian faith. There is a free demonstration lecture on Arguments for the Existence of God which can be downloaded from the website by following the link above.

The Certificate in Christian Apologetics can be studied by anyone from any educational background. Each course comes with recommended reading and assignments which can be completed at your own pace.

This course reflects the perspective of traditional Christianity but its not about using circular arguments to assert the existence of God or merely stating an opinion. Its about looking at the use of reasoned arguments to make a claim.

Even if you decide that this course is not for you or someone you know, you might find it worthwhile to listen to the demo lecture to learn how to build a theological argument or how to evaluate the strength of different arguments. Its also a handy way to introduce an aspiring student to a university lecture in a different part of the world at a time where campus visits are not possible.

For more details about the courses visit http://watch.biola.edu/certificate-in-christian-apologetics

 

Joe Hasler’s blog on working class culture and estates ministry

Bristol Estate

 

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.

Retreats at Home during COVID-19 and beyond

Retreats at Home

 

Are you looking for an alternative way to deepening your prayer life or do you know people who long to draw closer to Jesus?

Residential retreats are very expensive and not always feel possible for people who may have family or work commitments. Many retreat centres are closed due to COVID-19, though some are beginning to reopen.

Retreats at Home

An alternative is to make a retreat whilst staying at home or carrying on with your day-to-day life. Manresa Link is an ecumenical network in the Midlands which gives retreats based on Ignatian spirituality. The retreats last around 6 weeks and during that time people meet with their prayer guide once a week to share how they have got on with their prayer.

During lockdown Manresa Link organised Retreats At Home so that people could speak to their guide over the phone, Whats App, Zoom or any other internet app they had. As lockdown eases some face-to-face meetings may also be possible. The good news is that Manresa Link will continue to offer more remote support if needed.

Manresa Link Candle

Why make a retreat?

Does this sound a bit scary? You might be thinking,

“Help! My prayer life is rubbish!” or “I am not ‘holy’ enough to have a special guide.” “Who would want to listen to me?”

A prayer guide is there to just listen and to help you to discern where God is in your experience.

Even the phrase ‘Ignatian spirituality’ might sound a bit intimidating. What on earth is this, you might wonder. It is simple a way of praying that focuses on Jesus using some insights from St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491 – 1556). One of these is

“Pray as you can.” He was very practical and down-to-earth.

Being listened to by someone who cares and is not there to judge can be a wonderfully affirming experience. It can also help you to discern how God might be calling you in your discipleship. You can read more about Manresa Link here.

People who make a retreat can make a small donation to cover costs of materials if they can afford it.

Grants to make a residential retreat

If you are feeling in need of refreshment and time completely away from home there is help towards paying for a residential retreat from the Society of Retreat Conductors.

Again, when you click on the grants tab this might look a little bit daunting. It is not as hard as it seems and the Society of Retreat Conductors want more people from estates to be aware that these funds are available. The feedback form you are sent to tell them about your retreat is short and easy to fill in. It could be a life changing experience.

They also offer grants towards helping Christians to train to listen as prayer guides and spiritual directors.

Below is an example of an Ignatian way of praying called the Examen or the Review of Day.

The Review of Day