Proximity Conference 2021

Network for every estate

We wanted to let you know that Proximity is heading back online for 2021!

Running from 7-8 May, Proximity is our annual Urban Mission Conference and it’s totally FREE. We’ll be joined by inspiring and challenging speakers including Bob Ekblad, Rachel Gardner, Josh Smedley, Andy Hawthorne, Sam Ward and Sarah Small who will help each of us explore God’s call to his church to Mobilise.

Over the two days we’ll be digging into the book of Philippians and will be equipped, inspired and challenged for urban mission through teaching, TED-style talks, stories and worship. Whether you’re just exploring the call to mission, or whether you’re in this for the long-haul, it’s time to mobilise!

To book your free tickets and to keep up-to-date with our programme and speakers visit: Proximity 2021: Mobilise – The Message

Please do promote in your churches and networks and share with your friends.

The World of Jesus a New Course from Jesus Shaped People

Jesus Shaped People

A new 8 week online course on Wednesdays from April 7th, 7–9 pm

Gordon Dey from Jesus Shaped People has created an eight-week, Zoom-driven course entitled World of Jesus that draws from his experience of leading pilgrimage groups to Israel and Palestine over the past 30 years.

Gordon is offering the opportunity for people belonging to JSP linked churches to experience World of Jesus on Wednesday evenings from 7pm to 9pm between Easter and Pentecost, beginning on Wednesday April 7th. The course will give insight into the context of Jesus’ ministry—the geography and history, and the way people lived their lives under Herodian and Roman control and influence, using maps, photos and other graphics. Afterwards we’ll explore the impact of this on the church today in small groups and plenary questions.

There is no charge to those taking part, however donations in support of Jesus Shaped People are warmly encouraged! Information of how to do this is provided on the JSP website: www.jesusshapedpeople.net

flyer is also available to download and print on the website that can be used as a poster. If you want to take part please book a place with Gordon: gordon@jesusshapedpeople.net. Your place will then be confirmed and you will be sent more detail about each of the sessions. Later those who book a place will be sent a zoom code.

Places are limited, so ‘first come first served’.

Every blessing for Passiontide and Easter.

Gordon Dey

Jesus Shaped People offers programmes and learning resources especially for smaller inner city, urban and social housing estate churches.

Holy Nativity Easter Joy

Holy Nativity Easter Joy

Holy Nativity shared some hope for the future with the local community as it gave 500 Easter eggs to local children. Revd Robb and the church community organised the eggs for every pupil at Ash Green Primary School.

“This past 12 months has been so hard for everyone, none more so than our children” says Revd Robb.  “We have seen childhoods disrupted for everyone.  Lockdown has taken it’s toll on the whole family and it is important to ensure that children in our communities have a future to hope for.  For The Church, Easter is the greatest hope we have.  We remember that in the midst of the horror of Good Friday, God brought transformation.”

NECN in Conversation with Pioneer Minister Jane Emson

Revd. Sr. Jane Emson

Middlesbrough CENTRE OF MISSION

About the Centre of Mission

Middlesbrough Centre of Mission is based on the Brambles Farm and Thorntree estates in Middlesbrough, which are in the top 1% most deprived neighbourhoods in the country. – Thorntree is being one of the most deprived areas in the UK (IMD 2019). St Thomas Church (Brambles Farm estate) no longer has a building or congregation and was the last Anglican worship on the estate. The last time the church met there was in October 2006 and their building was demolished in 2007. My role is to start a New Worshiping Community (church plant) focusing on the 20s-40s on the estate.

Lockdown

Lockdown has been really busy. We have been taking up to 60 food parcels out every other week. And in the school summer holidays this has increased to 72 families which means we’re supporting more than 260 people.

The food has been donated from Churches outside the parish and also from Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland who has so generously gave us funding. I not only bought dried food but also fresh fruit and veg and meat which included recipes to cook and online Zoom sessions to help.

We have given out activity packs for over 120 children and run events on Facebook. Activity packs included creating a COVID-19 time-capsule and an Easter colouring competition.

Bramble Farm Foodbank

We have now set up an Eco Shop to address food poverty. People pay £2 for 15 items of food. Food is donated from the local supermarket. Volunteers from local families help to run the shop.

Life before Lockdown

When I first started my role as Lead Evangelist I was told not to really do anything other than get to know the area and to listen to what God is saying for the first 6 months. I understood why and the importance especially as I didn’t know the area its needs or anyone. Anyway, for those who know me this was near on impossible.

So I began by going out with Fr Terry and his Coffee van three mornings a week. It’s where we park the van in different parts of the estates and give out free coffee to people in the local community. With a stamp on the side saying ‘given with God’s love’. In doing this it not only enabled me to be present but also form some good relationships. One in particular was with a guy called L who had recently come out of prison where he told me he had spent most of his life and he told me that he gave his life to Jesus just a few weeks before his release. He said that he would like to help me set up a church and that he wanted to share his faith.

Brambles Farm Coffee Van

I also started to build up good working partnerships and was handed keys to three local community centres and was told I could use them free of charge to set up what groups I felt appropriate, even a church. I was also asked to be one of the trustees at one of the centres.

One of the centres already had a youth club called Tommy’s. However just a few weeks after my arrival the club closed due to lack of attendance. About a month after this I was asked by the Area Dean if I could start it back up. Which I did in November after lots of prayer, a great team and a few changes. We ended up with 142 young people on the register in just a few months.

I find it such an honour and privilege to serve God in Brambles Farm and Thorntree. The people, children and young people are so amazing. They are a beautiful community who are generous and support each other. And whilst being over here I have also met my future husband David. We got engaged on Valentine’s day.

Reverend Sister Jane Anne Emson

Pioneer Minister, Deacon and Church Army Sister

Worship at Home Resources for Holy Week and Easter

Holy Week

This time last year, we were trying to get our heads around not being in the church building for Holy Week and Easter.

Actually, that’s not quite right: we were trying to get our heads around not being able to gather for Holy Week and Easter. In Hodge Hill in recent years, many of the ways we have journeyed together through Holy Week have happened in spaces other than the church building: Palm Sunday has included a raucous, rag-tag ‘procession’ across Hodge Hill Common; Holy Saturday evening has been around a fire-pit in one of the patches of local ‘wasteland’; and we’ve greeted the Easter dawn by walking the Paschal candle through the streets of our estate, yelling ‘Alleluia!’ loudly on street corners. So what we missed, in Holy Week 2020, was even the opportunity to root the story of Jesus’ passion and resurrection, together, in the ground of our neighbourhood.

Our church community is well-connected in many ways, but not digitally. Only around 1/3 of our congregation have been able to use Zoom over the past year, and fewer than that are on Facebook. And in line with our ‘guiding principles’ to shape our communal life during COVID, which we first articulated together in May 2020, we have resisted making our ‘core activities’ anything that we were not all able to participate in, in some way. So our default position has been (and remains) ‘worship at home’: a weekly worship pack delivered to doorsteps, and via email / Facebook / Whatsapp for those with access, for us all to use, ‘together, apart’. Soon after Easter, that was complemented by a weekly audio recording of readings and reflections, that could be accessed via a local phone number of downloaded as an MP3 file.

Paschal Candle

The worship packs included relatively simple liturgies on paper, designed to be said by one person or more in a household, but the words were accompanied by physical resources, and suggestions for bodily actions and movement as well. Over the course of Holy Week and Easter, worshippers would have lit candles, held crosses, waved branches, kindled fires, held and decorated stones, and sent text messages or made phone calls to share an Easter greeting of joy and promise. They might have sat at their kitchen table, but also on their balcony or doorstep or in their garden (if they had one) – and gone for walks in our wider neighbourhood. We tried to use lots of pictures, and not too many words (we’d all been bombarded with too many words already, even back then).

We also wanted to recognise that the ‘great interruption’ that has been COVID-19* had done something very strange to our living-through-time. Lent had been interrupted by lockdown, and yet in a sense the deprivations of Lent were enduring well beyond Easter. Good Friday arrived on a particular day, and Easter Day followed two days later, and yet our lives, from the most local to the most global levels, seemed to be wave upon wave of ‘Good Fridays’, seemed often to be stuck in the waiting, grieving space of ‘Holy Saturday’ time, and ‘Easter Day’ was only ever arriving in the faintest, most elusive of ways. And so we offered liturgies for Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Dawn, with exactly the expectation that they would be used both on those particular days, and on days that felt like those days in the weeks and months to come.

Revd Dr Al Barrett, vicar at Hodge Hill and author of the blog  This estate we’re in

To download the worship packs designed by Al for Holy Week and Easter click on the licks below:

Palm Sunday 2020 [home worship version]

Reflective prayers for Maundy Thursday 2020 [worship at home]

FRIDAY – Stations of the Cross (Koeder & O’Tuama)

SATURDAY – Grieving & Waiting [worship at home]

SUNDAY 1 – Greeting the Easter Dawn [worship at home]

SUNDAY 2 – Eastertide booklet 2020 [worship at home]

SUNDAY 3 – Emmaus Road reflection [worship at home]

 

* Ruth Harley and I explore this ‘great interruption’ further in our book, Being Interrupted: Re-imagining the Church’s Mission from the Outside, In (SCM Press, 2020).

NECN in conversation with Andy Greiff

St Aidan's Buttershaw Estate

Buttershaw Estate in Bradford is most famous for the setting of Rita, Sue and Bob Too film and the birth place of its author Andrea Dunbar. This gritty comedy/ drama shows what life can be like on a northern estate, but there are many other stories that paint the picture.
It’s been so encouraging over the past 12 months that those of us who care for the community have worked together to help the great need that exists with donations to the food bank, clothes bank, baby bank etc. Those involved were a mixture; Buttershaw Baptists, the local Catholic Church, Sandale Trust, Bradford Bulls Rugby Club, ourselves at St Aidan’s and St Michael’s, local council officers plus many volunteers. That has been the success story of the last 12 months and nothing demonstrated that better than when we all got together with Santa (the Baptist Minister) on a big truck and slowly rolled around the streets of the estates, carols and Christmas songs blasting out, giving generously donated brand new toys to excited and happy children. Looking forward to the mega Easter Egg hunt in a few weeks.
To find out more about how St. Aidan’s is reaching out on Buttershaw estate watch the interview on You Tube: https://youtu.be/Du1qRw3No70
Foodbank Donations
If you live locally to St. Aidan’s you may wish to donate to the foodbank collection box outside the church. You can also join St. Aidan’s Facebook Group.

Rev Andy Greiff (St Michael’s Shelf with St Aidan’s Buttershaw

Praxis Labs Centre for Hope and Activism

Praxis Labs run courses to help you turn your faith into action. They are starting another one on 8 April. It’s hugely accessible, really inspiring and welcomes all theological perspectives. It’s also ‘pay as you can afford’ and so accessible from a finance perspective too.

Praxis Labs

“As lockdown (hopefully) comes to an end in the next few months, you might be thinking through what activities you’ll do when things open up. Maybe you feel that God wants you to start something new, or revisit some of the things you did pre-covid – or maybe you want to get more engaged in justice and activism but don’t know how to get going. 

If that’s you, can I recommend the Labs course from the Praxis Centre (home of the Hopeful Activists’ Podcast)? It’ll give you space to reflect and plan in light of God’s big story while hearing from some excellent activists and theologians. Starts on 8 April. They’re a great bunch :)”

Rich, Founder of Praxis Labs

Find out more at www.praxiscentre.org/labs.

Ground Level Unemployment Support

Project Logo

At Jericho, we support people, marginalised by society, overcome barriers to become fulfilled at work and in life.

Currently, across our nation, we face rapidly rising levels of unemployment with a massive hit on 16-24 yr olds, huge competition for every job, and increased risk of long-term unemployment for lower-skilled and older job-seekers.

Our Ignition programme aims to help fulfil the growing need for grassroots, community-based employment support. It is delivered through partnerships with local churches and community organisations, where we provide training for volunteers and a comprehensive resources manual that can be used in different settings.

We expect to see high numbers of people requiring extra support to enter or re-enter a shrinking jobs market, along with the need for other support as a growing number of people face the financial, emotional, mental and physical effects of redundancy and unemployment. With all this happening and various levels of restrictions, fewer people will be walking into a job club to seek help at this time, so we need to think differently.

We’re developing employment support guides and workbooks that will give churches the opportunity to offer remote support until things change. These will be ready soon.

Many people will not know where to turn and a timely intervention could make all the difference. A simple, structured conversation could help somebody take stock of their present situation then start to turn things around. A chat could start a life-changing journey.

We are also developing training and resources to provide tools, techniques and resources that will help with the conversation.

If you would like to know more, please call Dave Chapman, Church Partnership Manager, on 07850 603969, or email dave.chapman@jericho.org.uk

Who’s who @NECN

Introducing Emma Ash – Trustee

Emma Ash

From living in a high-rise building in Hong Kong and travelling back to the U.K. staying with my Mum in her council flat, trying to discern my calling, I ended up writing a piece for the Church Times on the financial barriers that ordination places onto the work-class. Andy Delmege emailed and soon I was invited onto the NECN trustee board.

Three years have now passed, and the majority of that time has been spent in London working for the Church on two different housing estates, one Evangelical and another, Anglo-Catholic. Here new ministries were launched and people came to faith. Ecumenicalism remains at the heart of NECN and I believe  it is vital as we continue to build worshipping communities across England and Wales. I’ve not long completed a year with the Community of St Anselm, Lambeth Palace and have a passion to see more partnerships made for the glory and kingdom of God.

*Photo taken by the Community of St Anselm, Lambeth Palace.

Church-Related Community Work (CRCW)

Steve Summers

CRCW is a recognised ministry in the United Reformed Church (URC), initiated 40 years ago, with an equal status and terms of settlement to the ‘normal’ ministry of Word and sacraments. CRCWs are called by God, professionally trained and qualified in community development work and theology, and then commissioned to work in partnership with local people, churches and other agencies in order to work together towards more flourishing neighbourhoods and communities and ‘life in all abundance’.

With ecumenism in the DNA of the URC, it’s not just URC members who may become an accredited CRCW.
Between them, CRCW’s enable churches to widen their mission by:

identifying local assets and opportunities;

  • confronting injustice;
  • organising community action;
  • developing and supporting initiatives that improve the lives and wellbeing of local people;
  • and theologically reflecting upon that action.

Steve Summers, Development Worker for CRCW in the URC, promotes and supports CRCW ministry around Britain, relying upon networking and partnership-building approaches to enhance what the URC can offer and to contribute to wider community mission and ministry initiatives.

He emphasises that,
‘Alongside (of course!) NECN, my current ‘top 3’ partner agencies who provide invaluable stories and resources to encourage and inspire community presence and engagement are:

HeartEdge (https://www.heartedge.org/),

Together for the Common Good (https://togetherforthecommongood.co.uk/)

and Urban Life (http://urbanlife.org/).

I’d recommend to anyone working on estates to check out what they’re offering.’

There are also plenty of stories from CRCWs about their work and ministry accessible at:
https://urc.org.uk/crcw
and in a future newsletter we’ll hear more about the community ministry training that’s available for anyone to study.