small pilgrim place

One of our member Churches, St Michael’s LEP on the Gospel Oak Estate in Hall Green, Birmingham, has become a Small Pilgrim Place.

There are full details of it here , and the Small Pilgrim Places website is here

Are any other Estate Churches places of pilgrimage? (I can think of Penrhys in South Wales).  It would be great to get some pilgrimages going …

estate leadership pilots

As part of the Allchurches Trust Grant to build national support for Estates Ministry, we have two local Leadership Pilots beginning, one in London and one in Birmingham.

The Birmingham Pilot began last night with 17 people from outer estate and inner city anglican parishes gathering for a Learning Group that will Deepen Formation and Leadership.

The London Pilot begins soon – click here for details.

The Pilots are quite different and there will be a deep evaluation of them carried out by Church Army.  We hope that this will be of value to the wider Church, and that all denominations will find ways of enabling people on estates to express all their gifts.

We know that local leadership is one of the key themes for estate churches.  Our National Conferences next year will explore this.  Details of dates and venues coming soon.

Please pray for all those involved in the Learning Pilots.

rewriting the story – necn london conference

Over 45 Estate Church practitioners from across London and the South East gathered at St Thomas, Kensal Green last week for the first of NECN’s London Conferences.  Entitled London Estates: Rewriting the Story, we reflected on the range of positive estate church life, within the hard context we live.

Among many other things, Mike Long and Alan Everett told their story of ministering in the aftermath of Grenfell Tower.  You can view Mike’s presentation here:

NECN

Lis Goddard put together a very beautiful meditation on London Estates here:

city&estates presentation

One of the great benefits of the day was being part of a Group of people who minister in the same context – people who get it, and who can help share what they do that is imaginative and which works.  If you are interested in being part of one of our Groups, or in helping to form new Groups, please contact us.

Here is a reflection by Emma Ash on the day:

Simon Jones, David Martinez, and Joshua White, all have one thing in common: their names are posted high, under the Stations of the Cross at St Thomas’ Church, Kensal Town. Inside, the church the walls are as grey as the day they were plastered, making the black ink on the white paper stand out all the more. The white marble stations blend into the plastered wall, however, these names below, stand vividly, bringing with it a harrowing effect. There, joined with them, are a multitude of other names, all in a vertical line, all designated to a station. Fixated, I intended to find out more. These men, women, and children have all been murdered this year by knife crime. Their names stand as a reminder to the church to pray, to love those effected by knife crime and to work towards a day when no names in black ink will be posted on the grey plastered wall.

I stopped, prayed, and felt my heart give way as I empathised with the families that grieve. Chills ran down my spine and I knew that God had something powerful to tell us as we gathered at the NECN London Conference entitled “Rewriting the Story.” Yet, what is the current story regarding the Church and knife crime?

A few years ago, theft and burglary were the most common types of crime, however, more recently, violence has soared to the top. The Mayor of London’s statistics from 2018 tell us that 64.6% of those who serve less than 12 months in prison, reoffend. As of 2018, 75% of all knife crime murders are committed by black British males, under 25. The average annual cost to send one of these men to prison would be the same as it would be to send them to Eton College. The current story is one where the Church needs to think long and hard about how we reach out to these young men, partnering with organisations that help with rehabilitation.

Recently, the government has appointed a charitable foundation to help deliver a £200m Youth Endowment Fund, tackling serious violent crime. Churches and organisations can apply for grants if they are working with 10-14 year olds. Christian organisations such as XLP and Outbreak Pimlico, who spoke at the conference, are not only offering mentoring in schools but also safe places to meet in the evenings, teaching life skills to young people, helping to tackle the situation. The great idea behind Outbreak Pimlico is that three churches saw a need but couldn’t single-handedly employ a youth worker, coming together they raised the funds and are now reaching hundreds of youth people. You don’t need to be a big church to make a difference.

In terms of prison work, one thing worth highlighting is that the Oasis Community Learning trust, which is based in London, has just been awarded a contract to turn the Medway Secure Training Centre in Kent into a school for young offenders. This gives hope that second chances are possible and that new initiatives are being explored to help solve the current crisis.

“Rewriting the Story” is not easy and the names in black ink are still being added to the grey plastered wall. However, through daily prayer, listening to those effected by knife crime, and partnering with organisations, we can rewrite the story. My hope is that rather than adding new names in black ink onto the grey plastered wall, in the future, there will be new names in red ink of those who have been transformed, no longer involved in knife crime but helping others who are.

stories of transformation – st james, rounds green

Here is a really beautiful story of a transformed estate church and transformed lives:

Jill MacDonald, Minister-in-Charge of St James’ Church Rounds Green, on the Lion Farm estate, Dudley

JILL MACDONALD AT THE REFURBISHED ST JAMES CHURCH, LION FARM ESTATE, BIRMINGHAM. PHOTO BY CLARE KENDALL. 29/8/19.

‘People thought that the place was shut for years. The grass wasn’t mowed. The glass in the doors had been broken so many times that they were boarded up. The windows were opaque glass with wire over them. However much we cleaned, it looked grotty. It was vile.

They know it’s open now! I mow the grass every week and that enables me to say “hi” to everybody as they go past.

We have always been a church with absolutely no money. We had £1,000 in the bank. We took out a loan to redecorate and applied for lots of grants. Painting the church has made such a difference. The whole feel of the place lifted people’s spirits. I’ve even put pink chandeliers in the toilets, and you don’t see that often. They’re a real talking point.

It’s a hard patch. There’s a lot of apathy, drug abuse, financial problems. But now we have a friendly face and there are people coming in. The hall is booked every night.

We will never be a massive, humungous church, but we have grown. There used to be a time when I thought, “Why would I invite anyone to come?” But now I don’t mind inviting people.

We used to get lots of graffiti and broken windows on a regular basis, and dog muck on the grass. That’s very rare now. It’s almost like God has put angels round it. People have seen that it’s cared for and looked after, and they have responded.

The church has a future that I could never have imagined. The fellowship here have a confidence in sharing their faith. We take the love of God to those around us in whatever way we can.’

Barbara, member of the congregation

JILL MACDONALD AND BARBARA HUNT AT ST JAMES CHURCH, LION FARM ESTATE, BIRMINGHAM. PHOTO BY CLARE KENDALL. 29/8/19.

‘When I first came to St James’, I was a heavy drinker and gambler and I was getting loans every week for my drinking and gambling, but I couldn’t afford the loans. I had big debts: hundreds and hundreds of pounds from door-to-door loans.

Drink blocked out memories. The more I drank, the more it blocked them out. But I’d been to Sunday School as a child. Later in life, one of my twin daughters died. The vicar who did her funeral was very nice. I realised that this [church] was where I belonged. So, I turned up one Sunday and thought I’d sit at the back, do the service and go. But people opened up their arms to me. It was “wow”.

When I first came, I had long uncombed hair, and everything I wore was black. I never knew how to dress. I never knew about hygiene.

My family are worse than you can dream. This is my family now. This is where I’m happy. I’m not scared any more. I don’t need the booze now. I thought I was nothing, but I’m as important to God as the next person.’

Andy Delmege, Urban Estates Missioner

ST JAMES CHURCH, LION FARM ESTATE, BIRMINGHAM STORY. ANDY DELMEGE. PHOTO CLARE KENDALL. 29/8/19.

‘The estates are one of the more socially and economically challenged part of the country and if we are not present in vital ways in the estates, then we have lost the gospel of Jesus’ heart for people in situations in poverty, which was so much at the heart of his life and message.

It is vital that people on estates such as Lion Farm realise their worth in Christ. Everybody is our sister and brother, especially those who are in more challenging situations. So it is important that the church is there, helping people.’

Read more of this story by clicking here.

Resources from Knife Crime Workshop

Pauline Weaver from the  Kings Norton Team led a Workshop on Knife Crime at the Birmingham Conference.

Please find the Resources from it here:

Lives Not Knives resource pack final

Appendix 2 Safe Spaces Flyer FINAL

appendix 1 service for lives not knives

 

Estates Evangelism – A Commitment to Action

Jesus comes to proclaim Good News to the poor (Luke 4, 16). As His disciples, of different denominations but united by our shared desire to listen prayerfully to His call, we commit ourselves afresh though presence, service and proclamation to the ministry of evangelism on our nation’s urban estates by:

Strand 1: Championing Estates Ministry 

a) Challenging the Churches at every level to ensure that people from estates are key partners at every tier of our structures

b) Ensuring there is a church community on every significant urban estate in England and fostering and encouraging fresh and emerging forms of church life on the estates

c) Developing an effective communications strategy to raise the profile of estates ministry and ensure that good news stories are celebrated

d) Building robust partnerships between churches and schools on estates to ensure that young people are able to experience life in all its fullness

e) Working together as ecumenical partners

Strand 2: Theology and the Public Voice

a) Developing our apologetics and reflecting on the content of the Gospel we proclaim to answer the question: ‘What is the Good News on the estates?’

b) Creating rich dialogue between theologians and estates practitioners to create a contemporary theological foundation for estates ministry and evangelism, exploring themes such as cross and glory, repentance and lament.

c) Defining effective evangelism. What is it? What are the indicators? What constitutes success on the estates?

d) Understanding the changing socio-economic and demographic context of estates ministry

e) Engaging with Government and structures of power

Strand 3: Leadership

a) Calling, developing and training local lay leadership

b) Forming ordained leaders from and for the urban estates

c) Offering support and high quality training to current leaders

d) Challenging the selection and training pathways for licensed ministries and developing new forms of recognised lay ministry

e) Ensuring sustainable patterns of deployment and support for Estates clergy

Strand 4: Resources

a) Ensuring that appropriate financial resources are available to estates churches and that these resources are not wasted

b) Helping local churches to find practical solutions to issues around buildings, administration and finance

c) Signposting to contextually appropriate resources for evangelism, discipleship and ministry to Youth and children

d) Working with partners to develop new resources where there is a recognised need

e) Passing on good practice and inspiration through models, research, stories and toolkits