Upcoming church and community events

United Reformed Church

A number of great events hosted by The United Reformed Church are coming up in the next month or so, including the use of church buildings in the community, Black History Monthly and online discipleship. Please do share these with anyone you feel would be interested.

‘Building for the Future’: 3pm April 19th

An online conference to consider the strategic use of church buildings for mission and community engagement. We’re supporting the URC Church Buildings Forum with this event, which will include a keynote address by John Bradbury, a presentation by HeartEdge and examples of creative use of church buildings and assets. Please email: mission@urc.org.uk to register and receive the details.

More details can be downloaded on URC Buildings Forum Zoom Conferencev2

Black History Monthly

Black Lives Matter

As disciples of Jesus, being anti-racist must surely be a fundamental part of who we are. We cannot wait until Black History Month in October to explore this. We need to constantly open ourselves to growing and learning. As such, we will dip into Black History every month during 2021, in URC Black History Monthly, a one-hour conversation on the third Monday evening of every month at 7.30pm on Zoom where we’ll all be encouraged to review a film, book or other resource for ourselves, before coming together to share an hour’s discussion, exploring and teasing out how it affects all of us in our situations and settings today. More information can be found on the URC’s website.

Online Discipleship Sessions 

What does living the life of Jesus today look like online? It’s great that worship, fellowship and other important elements of the Christian faith can happen virtually, but how do we use technology to take us deepen our relationships so we can help each other walk the way of Jesus on a daily basis? The Walking the Way Steering Group wants to set up a network of people from across the URC to explore this further. To start off, they’d like to invite you to attend a Zoom session to think about what we mean by ‘discipleship’, what’s already happening with faith development online and how can we take things forward into more intentional community building.

If this is something you, or someone from your church/network/area of work might be interested in, they’d be grateful if you or they could e-mail wtw@urc.org.uk to receive a Doodle poll link to secure some dates/times for these sessions.

Church on the Edge Sessions

Knackered, Jaded, Scunnered? What word would you use to describe how you’re feeling right now? The times we live in are very strange. There are lots of difficult emotional, physical, social and economic challenges at the moment, which affect absolutely everyone in ways we could never have imagined beforehand. There are major, unanswerable questions about the long-term impact this will have, and where we go from here. If you need a space to meet with others, to be open and honest about this difficult situation, and to seek support from each other in living through these challenging times, then e-mail wtw@urc.org.uk to sign up for the first of three monthly Zoom sessions, brought to you by the URC’s ‘New Reality Same Mission’ group that Marie, Simon & myself are part of, on Thursday 1 April at 2pm.

In this opening session, we will be joined by Al Barrett and Ruth Harley, co-authors of ‘Being Interrupted: Reimagining the Church’s Mission from the Outside, In’ to help us think about what God wants of us in the midst of everything that has interrupted normal life in these bizarre times.

Reimagining the Church's Mission from the Outside, In

Who’s who @NECN

Over the coming months we are going to take a look at who the Trustees of NECN are, their passions, their skills and what they get up to in and out of NECN.

If you would like to get more involved, feel you have passion or skills which could be useful please do get in touch. We have work streams as well as trustee opportunities.

Introducing Robb Sutherland – Trustee

Vicar of Mixenden and Illingworth in North Halifax.

I spent my first three years as the first-time vicar of an estates church feeling quite isolated.  I was surrounded by ministers who were having completely different experiences to mine.  My colleagues are wonderfully supportive but my experience doesn’t easily correlate to that of The Minster.  I was introduced to NECN by a chance encounter a few years ago.  Discovering this network of people who share a similar life and growing a local network of practitioners, lay and  ordained has been an empowering experience.

I grew up in a mining family and married the vicar’s daughter of an estates church in Leeds.  That church community taught me the Christian faith and the love and generosity that truly comes from people who have little but give everything.  In hindsight it was probably inevitable that once ordained I would follow the call to a similarly wonderful estates church parish with all of our ups and downs.  It is my hope that in the coming years that NECN will grow as a supportive community, as well as a becoming a national voice for people on the margins.
Robb is a trustee of NECN and a member of the Estates Evangelism Task Group as part of Renewal and Reform.  He blogs at www.changingworship.com
 

Hope Community Witham

Estate Comunity Church

Once again churches and communities are having to dig deep into keeping hold of hope as we start the New Year with a third lockdown.

Today we bring you some good news of an estate church in Witham, Essex, the Hope Community. Their mission is ‘Bringing Hope, Being Community’. You can find their page on Facebook here.

Like many churches since March 2020, Hope Community have had to quickly learn how to put services online and go through a steep learning curve. Services are currently being streamed live every week via Facebook where engagement has grown from 70 views per week to over 500 views. A Zoom Alpha Group has also been set up by Revd Will Abbott for people to explore questions brought up in the uncertainty of this season which are advertised through Facebook and this group is growing.

Goody Bags Hope Community

As well as being flexible in how to worship God and pray, Hope Community have been reaching out to families in need through the Love Where You Live scheme. This scheme was originally set up in Wythenshawe by The Message. During Love Where You Live weeks in Wythenshawe, volunteers have been delivering food parcels, cleaning up rubbish and even sprucing up gardens. You can read more about the Wythenshawe project on https://www.message.org.uk/love-where-you-live-2/

In Witham, volunteers gave out  over 400 goody bags and food over Christmas to families who have been really touched by this act of kindness. Donations for the foodbank are coming in regularly and there is a Just Giving ‘Love Where U Live’ fundraising page to raise money towards outreach projects to support and care for the wider community. A recent appeal has been for funds to buy treats for NHS staff to show appreciation of their frontline work. A link to give a donation to this fund can be found here.

Hope Community have plans in the pipeline to launch their own website later this year as a charitable organisation. In the meantime if you would like some more details about Hope Community which works with St. Nicolas Church, Witham, visit https://www.withamparishchurch.org.uk/

 

Estates at Advent 2020

Estates at Advent
Weoley Castle, Birmingham

 

We may be locked down but let’s open up the beauty of estate churches. We want to create an Advent Calendar featuring different estates for each day. If you want to take part email christinem@cofebirmingham.com with a photo from your estate or church, the name & town of your estate for #EstatesatAdvent
If you are on Twitter let us know your hashtag and if on Facebook the name of your page so that we can tag you when your photo is posted!
Photos can be autumnal or wintery, feature decorations, crib scenes, estate lights, tattooed Santas – you name it, we’d love to see it. We’d also love to see any funny or happy photos too. Remember, all photos featuring people can only be shown with their consent and adults need to sign a safeguarding form from your church before we can use any photos featuring children.
🕯

 

Managing a changed financial landscape in 2020

CAP logo

2020 has been a year for polarising the rich and the poor. Those who are in well-paid jobs and who are able to work from home saved 8.6% of their income in the first three months of 2020 according to Christians Against Poverty.

Sadly, those who are the lowest earners and the under-30s have been left struggling financially in the wake of COVID-19. From this group 37% say they’ve eaten less than normal, and 31% have reduced the number of showers or baths they’re taking.

The Cap Money Course

Christians Against Poverty are offering free online courses that meet weekly for 6 weeks. These courses aim to teach budgeting skills and help people to face the reality of what is coming into their bank account and what is going out. Having more control over finances can help to prevent debt and encourages people to save where possible.

To find out more visit https://capuk.org/i-want-help/courses/cap-money-course/introduction

The Cinnamon Network and Local Partnerships

 

The Cinnamon Network

If you have not come across the Cinnamon Network yet in your community or church ministry do take a look at their website https://www.cinnamonnetwork.co.uk/

The Cinnamon Network delivers training, advice and small grants to help churches start social action projects in their communities.

They also offer regular free webinars that you can sign up to. The upcoming webinar is on building partnerships with local agencies, other churches ad local authorities next Thursday, 5th November at 11 am. More information, including how to book can be found on https://www.cinnamonnetwork.co.uk/better-together/ 

There is also a wonderful story of how the Cinnamon Network has helped a church in Erdington, a built-up community in Birmingham with significant levels of unemployment, to set up a Job Club through local partnership working:

Erdington – Alive with Hope

Fundraising support for churches during COVID-19 and beyond

Ecclesiastical Insurance

During these difficult times Ecclesiastical Insurance  in collaboration with fundraising specialists, the Philanthropy Company, have put together really helpful advice and support resources to help you to fundraise for your church community.

Top tips

First of all there is a checklist of top tips for how to begin fundraising. A link to this page can be found here. You will also find a link to various databases of funders and emergency grant funders on that page. There is a search function which could help you to identify a potential funder. Some databases are free and others are available if you pay a subscription.

Build your case

Secondly, once you have decided who you are going to apply to for funding you will need to build a strong case in your application form. This will include:

  • a strong vision of what you want to achieve
  • a breakdown of costs
  • a plan of how you are going to monitor and evaluate the impact of your project.

A more comprehensive checklist can be found be found on https://www.ecclesiastical.com/church/fundraising/application-checklist/

There is also a handy guidance sheet that you can use to help you to write your case if you are new to fundraising.

Outputs and outcomes – what’s the difference?

Finally, you will need to have a clear understanding on some of the key terms used by funders when you apply and when you report back on how the funds have helped your target group. This includes understanding the difference between an output ( the resources used by your church to help others e.g. a new youth worker) and an outcome ( e.g. young people are less isolated). Ecclesiastical Insurance explain this brilliantly on https://www.ecclesiastical.com/church/fundraising/outputs-outcomes/

A free webinar which lasts for around 30 minutes which goes over these points can be viewed on https://www.ecclesiastical.com/church/fundraising/fundraising-webinar/

A final word…

Funders like to see collaboration and partnership. Before you get going on your fundraising make sure that no one else is already doing something similar in your area. Or, if you come across other organisations working with a similar group of people, can you offer something different to that fills a gap? For example, if you want to reduce the isolation of older people can you work in local partnership with other denominations or organisations to complement each other’s work?

 

 

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

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