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.
The Proximity Network is a network of ministries and missionaries for every disadvantaged neighbourhood in our nation. We have now mapped over 4000 ministries to the poor across the UK but we still have a way to go. We have done this in two phases;
Phase One: Map those ministries and missionaries actively working in the UK’s most disadvantaged communities. These will be categorised in eight different ways based on the governments indices of deprivation statistics released in 2019 – Crime, Education, Housing, Food, Debt, Health, Employment and Community.
Phase Two: Create a web-based platform to seek to achieve three things:
RESOURCE: Offer those on the frontline the means to sustain and advance their ministry by providing relevant resources including blogs, vlogs, Bible reading plans, audio books, best practice application, neighbourhood exegesis resources, inspirational books, webinars and conferences.
RELATE: Provide members with a mechanism to interrelate, cross pollinate, share best practice and support and work more strategically together in partnership.
RELEASE: Establish a list of disadvantaged areas that appear to be under resourced and work strategically to send and support new ministries willing to fill the gaps.
Cinnamon Network has recently been awarded a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund to help local churches support their communities.
In Autumn 2020 we’ll be launching an interactive online toolkit and app to help churches develop social action strategies that meet the most pressing needs in their local areas.
In addition, Cinnamon Advisors will be providing personalised support to help a number of churches develop their social action vision and action plan.
If your church wants to do more social action, then we’d love to hear from you.
At Cinnamon, our goal is to make it as easy as possible for local churches to set up sustainable social action projects, find funding and get the right support and training to make a positive impact in their local area.
Whether you’re an established church reviewing its community engagement, or a new church plant stepping out into social action for the first time, then we can help.
We can provide: – one-to-one and group support with Cinnamon Advisors – peer support and shared learning opportunities with other churches – an opportunity to help us develop our interactive toolkit and have first access to this new resource – access to our Cinnamon Leadership Training programme – access to a bespoke training programmes both online and in person to support various aspects of church, community and civic engagement
We’re looking to work with churches in urban, rural and coastal communities.
If your church is interested in receiving support, then please get in touch with the Jonny Gios, the Cinnamon Advisor in your region at Jonnygios@cinnamonnetwork.co.uk
If you would like to download a copy of this information please click on the link below:
“Urban Mission, another tilt” will be a joint day with the Nazarene Theological College looking at aspects of urban mission and ministry, such as calling, context and training. In its 24 years Urban Presence has seen many encouraging new initiatives and ministries with the “high’hanging fruit” of our inner-urban and outer estate areas of deprivation.
But, there remains a basic inequality of where God’s people are located in relation to where most of the people of our cities live.
Are we missing something or doing something wrong?
This day is for church leaders, activists, trainers and educators to look again at the specifics of this context, the nature of calling to these areas and appropriate practical training for those who seek to serve there.
Free, but advance booking only. Lunch and refreshments included.
After years of working with churches in disadvantaged communities (on housing estates, with Church Urban Fund and currently with St Martin in the Fields) I’m doing research into the response of C-of-E churches to need. C-of-E churches are busy doing all kinds of work in a context of social change, cuts to public services and increased need. I want to understand this important activity more.
My research focuses on four C-of-E churches in varied contexts, that each use different approaches to respond to need. I will spend between 5 to 10 weeks with each, help out with activity as a participant and then interviewing some of those involved, generating a case study of each.
Can you help? I need to find four C-of-E churches to participate in this research. To help find the four, I’ve adapted a social work model that summarises four essential ‘types’ of response to need. It’s not perfect – however, it’s a useful start for talking about responses to need. I’m looking for a C-of-E church for each of those four types.
It might be you think your church is responding as one ‘type’ and could be involved – please do be in touch.
Andy Turner –
Centre for Community Engagement Research | Faiths and Civil Society Unit
Department for Social Therapeutic and Community Studies,
Goldsmiths, University of London | New Cross, London, SE14 6NW | UK
Or maybe there’s a church you know of, that you think could be worth approaching? Please contact us if you can help and we will put you in touch with Andy Turner.
It all began with the school run. Having dropped my eldest son off at school, the short journey to work would take me past the grounds of another local school. Day after day, I observed weary parents waiting dejectedly on the asphalt as they were battered by the elements. Each time I passed, I was amazed that no one was really talking to one another. That didn’t seem quite right to me.
Over time, I to brew an idea; if anything could bring these parents together, it’s the good old British cuppa. I arranged a meeting with the Headteacher and shared my observations and idea – a team of volunteers from the church and community working with a key worker to give out hot drinks on the playground before or after school, Pop Up Cuppa was born.
The vision for Pop Up Cuppa has always been about relationships – facilitating relationships within the community, building relationships between the church and community and developing great relationships between the schools and the church.
With the simplicity and the efficacy of the initiative, we were armed with little more than a couple of flasks of hot water, a bumper pack of teabags and packets of biscuits, this small team of volunteers are being used powerfully by God to transform their community, simply by engaging and putting relationships first.
I recall one of the parents who have begun to engage with other church activities and gain the confidence to take on leadership roles. The story of one parent who, through the relationship that began over a cuppa, has felt empowered to return to education.
The team began with one local primary school, once a month. 18 months on, we now pop up in three schools once every three weeks or so. The schools have been enthusiastic about the impact of Pop Up Cuppa, with one noting how there has been no fighting between parents on the playground since the project began; fighting among parents had previously been a particular challenge to the school. Another of the schools have even approached us for the church’s help with pastoral support for some of the parents and pupils.
Inarguably, Pop Up Cuppa is having a hugely positive impact on the community and it strikes me that it is a hugely replicable project; We would love to see parishes across Church of England Birmingham pulling out their urns for the sake of the gospel.
If you are interested in having a go in your parish here are a few tips:
Always have a key worker from the school with you. It is a joint project and this helps foster buy-in from the school. Make this part of your initial arrangement with the school.
Recruit volunteers who are great conversationalists. Remember this is primarily about relationships. It is essential to have team members who won’t shy away from a good chat with parents and pupils (although, being able to make a cracking cuppa helps too).
Seek engagement from the wider community. In which ways can people and business locally support the project. We never has to pay for the drinks or biscuits, these are funded by a local funeral directors, whose manager has caught the vision.
Be ready for people to engage with other church activities. Don’t sit back and wait for hundreds of families to flood into your Sunday morning service; this is unlikely to be the next logical step for those showing a deeper interest in involvement. What will you be inviting people to next?
Get your hands on a gazebo if you can – it will really help when the weather is less desirable. Failing that look for somewhere with a bit of shelter.
Andi Thomas is a pioneer minister at St Andrew’s Church in Chelmsley Wood, Birmingham. To find out more click here.