In the Thick of It

A gathering, conversations, stories shared and reflections made!
God’s kingdom in the margins

Solidarity not charity. Seeking the common good. Transforming unjust structures.
Collated, a booklet to help us explore how we can hear the voice of the marginalised, how we can get involved, where we should get involved and how we challenge the status quo!

Why not take a look and discuss the questions at the back in your community.
For a copy of the booklet email church.society@urc.org.uk

Coming in September – 1st Annual Charles Gore Lecture

Charles Gore Social Teachings Lecture

A new lecture series in memory of the first Bishop of Birmingham, Charles Gore, will be starting this September at Birmingham Cathedral.

Charles Gore was known for his concern for justice for people living in poverty in urban areas. When St. Philip’s Church became a cathedral he decided to allocate diocesan funds to meet social needs rather than on increasing the size of the building.

The free of charge evening ‘Anglican Social Vision: Past, Present and Future’ will be led by the Right Reverend John Perumbalath, Bishop of Bradwell.

Reserve your place by emailing enquiries@birminghamcathedral.com.

 

Prayer from the Estates

Prayer for NECN

This beautiful prayer has been written by Revd Sophie Cowan, as she has reflected on the sense of constant waiting whilst living on and ministering on estates. She has also journeyed alongside people who have experienced poverty in other contexts.

The prayer speaks of the void when people don’t stick around, and the disappointment when they do stay but fail to notice how much people living on estates have to offer the wider church, not least the prophetic voice.

God of course fills those gaps, and this we can witness to.

The image has been designed by Xu Haiwei on Unsplash.

**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

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.

Conference News – now online on July 1st

Dear Friends,

lots of love and prayers to you at this time.

As you will know, NECN had planned Conferences in early June.  In the light of the lockdown we have made the decision to cancel these.

Instead, we will be having a free Online Conference on Wednesday July 1st.  Please save the date.

We will be sticking with the planned theme of leadership.  This will enable us to share and deepen learning about some of the really important pilot work going on around the country developing and encouraging local leadership in our Estate Churches.

It will also give us the chance to reflect on the tensions and experiences we are finding in this time of great challenge.

There will be more details soon.

In the meantime, please keep an eye on our website for resources and stories of things that are working in Estate Churches and communities (https://estatechurches.org/covid-19/).

If you have time to let us know anything you would like to share, please send it to us.

One really important thing in all this is that everyone is making it up as they go along.  Please don’t feel guilty if you are not able to do the same as some other people.  It is an exceptionally testing time.  Please look after yourself.  Make sure you get adequate rest, and keep your prayer life going.

Some of our Local Groups are meeting online, and have found this really helpful.  We have a Zoom account available for this – please contact Christine if you would like to book a slot (christinem@cofebirmingham.com).

Our friends at Jesus Shaped People (https://www.jesusshapedpeople.net/) are working on some excellent free resources for Estate Churches when we are able to physically come back together.  Materials to help us in the missional task of discerning how we are different, what God is calling us to do, and how we can be equipped to do this.  More details soon.

with best wishes,

Andy

coronavirus news

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We are writing to you with prayers and love at this time of crisis.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected all of us very deeply.  We know only too well how it is touching us, our communities, our families and our Churches.  This is an extremely difficult time, and we know that you are all working really hard trying to work out the best way to be Church when we can’t meet physically, trying to figure out how we can continue to serve our communities, putting in place some mechanisms of care.

At NECN, we are praying for you.  We are thinking of ways in which we can offer one another helpful support.  If you have time, could you share stories and examples of what is working in your Church and your community?  It would be a wonderful resource to get things into each others hands.  If you are able to do this, please email Christine at  christinem@cofebirmingham.com  or put something on the Facebook page.
We will post things on our website here:  https://estatechurches.org/covid-19/
please keep an eye on this page for news.

One really important thing at the moment is that we don’t feel guilty about the things we can’t do.  We need to be looking after our own physical, mental and spiritual health so that we can be serving others.  And it is increasingly apparent that this will be a marathon and not a sprint.  If you can’t livestream your services, don’t worry – just publicise links to churches that are doing this, and work out other ways of keeping in touch with people.  We are all making this up as we go along, we are all making mistakes, and this is all very provisional.

Let’s continue to be a community that supports one another.  Let us know if you have any particular prayer requests or questions.  Please remember that although we might be physically isolated, we are not alone.  God is with us and we have each other.

We will be in touch again after Easter, when things have hopefully settled down a little, with some ideas of how NECN can continue to be a family and support Estate Churches through the internet, through our local groups, and through conferences and webinars.

With love and prayers,

Andy, Lynne, Sara and Christine.

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:
https://www.leadingyourchurchintogrowth.org.uk/estates-conference-2020

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,

Andy