Making Space for All God’s Children – a reflection by Joe Hasler

Parish Priest
Joe Hasler an estate church priest

 

Joe Hasler is a priest and former community worker who has lived and worked on estates for many years. He blogs about his experience and has created resources on his website http://www.joehasler.co.uk/

Joe has written a reflection  paper to indicate his desire to be engaged in a social evangelisation, alongside his desire for a prayerful and contemplative life.

He also reflects on the way COVID-19 has shaped church communities, discipleship and leadership.

The paper is entitled ‘Making Space for all God’s Children’.

If you would like to read Joe’s thoughts the link is:

http://www.joehasler.co.uk/?page_id=272

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

Poverty in the Pandemic

End Child Poverty

Coronavirus has turned the lives of families with children upside down. Millions of parents have lost jobs, or been furloughed with few guarantees of a job to return to. Schools and childcare facilities have largely been closed since the start of the pandemic, and many parents have been facing the almost impossible task of trying to work from home while also providing childcare and home-schooling.

These challenges are more acute in low-income families. Research has shown that the livelihoods of low-income workers are more at risk than the livelihoods of those in higher-paid roles, with many lower-paid workers employed in the sectors that have been bearing the brunt of the economic crisis.

In the face of an unprecedented public health crisis, which has also become an economic crisis, the government has acted quickly to safeguard people’s jobs. The Job Retention Scheme (JRS), in particular, has shielded many families from the worst impacts of the pandemic. The government has also made some important changes to the social security system which have provided a much-needed boost to household incomes at a time when many families are struggling.

However, there has been no targeted financial support for families with children, other than the provision of free school meal (FSM) vouchers, which only partially replaced an existing scheme. The increases in benefits made to date do not take into account family size, with single adults receiving the same increases as those with children. And there has been little recognition of the specific financial and non-financial pressures facing families with children.

To understand the financial impact of coronavirus on low-income families first hand, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and the Church of England (CofE) conducted a survey, hosted on the Entitledto benefits calculator website. Families’ testimonies of what life has been like during the pandemic provide an important insight into the day-to-day struggles many have been dealing with, as well as showing their strength and resilience in managing such an array of challenges on a limited income.

To download the full report please click on the link below:

Poverty-in-the-pandemic

Church of England Logo

CPAG

Who do you think you are? The “I am” sayings of Jesus

Children's resource

 

CURBS resource material is made up of a number of packs called CURBStone Kits.

These are primarily issue-based and start in the child’s own world, not where we think they ought to be! The aim is to help children make meaningful links between their world and God’s story. Each kit draws on biblical material related to the theme, sometimes used explicitly, sometimes implicitly.

We recognise that many children will be non-readers. In the light of this CURBS  explore other approaches to learning, touching the child’s spirituality through imagination and creativity, the use of visual and aural approaches, and above all through opportunities to build quality relationships with each child. However, CURBS believe that even the best resource is no substitute for relationship.

If you would like to download the free resource exploring the “I am” sayings of Jesus please click here.

To learn more about CURBS please visit https://curbsproject.org.uk/

You can also read more about CURBs fundraising campaign during COVID-19 on our website is you click on https://estatechurches.org/2020/07/curbs-fundraising-campaign-during-covid-19/

What will you do to end homelessness?

“Not having a secure home means not being able to set roots in a place, become part of a community and flourish in the ways that we are meant to. As churches there are many things that we can do to help prevent people falling into the sort of situations that I found myself in. What will you do to end homelessness?”

Revd Grace Thomas, Anglican priest with lived experiences of homelessness.

End Homelessness

We know that home is more than just bricks and mortar. It means safety, security, and an opportunity to build your life on a stable foundation. That’s why responding to homelessness is so key for churches. Right now, that’s more vital than ever.

During the pandemic, homelessness in the UK has changed dramatically. As lockdown began, thousands of rough sleepers were moved into self-contained accommodation. We discovered that it was possible to practically end rough sleeping overnight, if the political will was there. Evictions were paused, reducing the possibility of a spike in homelessness of all kinds.

As we move forward together, we can’t just return to the way things were before, with families up and down the country facing homelessness. It’s crucial that we respond now.

We need to reimagine how we respond to homelessness. As churches, we need to think especially hard. Whilst night shelters and drop in centres are some of the most common forms of social action churches run, they’re difficult to run right now because of social distancing.

It’s key that this discussion is led by those with lived experiences of homelessness, and that’s why it’s great to see that the Joint Public Issues Team of the Baptists, URC, Methodists and Church of Scotland are inviting them to the centre of their discussions. Over the coming months, they’ll be amplifying their voices, sharing their stories and asking them what they want churches to do to end homelessness. You can find out about their campaign – and see the first few stories – here. To see each story as it comes out, follow the Joint Public Issues Team on social media.

From supported accommodation to social care, campaigning to employment skills, these stories highlight a whole raft of responses churches can take. This means that as many churches as possible can play their part. Many of these responses are already tried and tested and they just need rolling out wider. They also show that churches can prevent people becoming homeless in the first place, alongside reacting to it. This reduces the need for crisis response and, more importantly, means that one less person faces a night without a place to call their own.

In the last few months, we’ve proved that homelessness isn’t inevitable. Now’s the time for us to be brave, to hear God’s call as He asks us to live out His word differently in this new reality. So, what will you do to end homelessness?


This blog has been written by Dan Simpson who is an intern carrying out research to support work being done by both the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community and also the Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT).

 

 

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/

Virtual Art Exhibition for St Michael’s Sheerwater

Virtual Art Exhibition

Dear friends

Most of you will probably know that the current Bishop’s Mission Order at St Michael’s, Sheerwater ends after 5 years, on 31 May 2021 and that a new BMO can only be put in place, with Gillaine as the Leader, if substantial finances are found. We are in negotiations with Woking Borough Council for a brand new community building as part of the Regeneration on Sheerwater. We’re hoping to bring MASCOT (our community charity) under our roof and create a café area, a workshop and multiple rooms in which we can continue to worship and serve the people of Sheerwater.

One of the fundraising initiatives is this virtual art exhibition from 3 friends of St Michael’s who are donating 50% of their sales directly to the church. Buying something beautiful and original from our website not only helps to continue mission and ministry in an area of high deprivation, but also supports artists in lockdown. New artists will be added each month.

Christmas is coming or maybe you just need to brighten your home now you’ve stared at the same pictures for 6 months! Either way, please take a look, share with your contacts and help us to realise our vision by securing the next phase of the BMO.

Do contact Tracey in the office, or me, if you  need any further information.

With our deepest thanks for your prayers and support.

Rev’d Gillaine Holland

St Michael’s Shared Church 

Dartmouth Avenue

Sheerwater

GU21 5PJ

 01932 341694

The office is manned by our Administrator, Tracey Francis from 9am-2pm on  Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10am-3pm on Wednesdays.

www.stmichaelssheerwater.org.uk

Poster with link Nikki Becca Cam

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

Joe Hasler’s blog on working class culture and estates ministry

Bristol Estate

 

This Friday we introduce the blog of estates priest and practitioner, Joe Halser at http://www.joehasler.co.uk/

Joe grew up in a working class area in South London and  worked for 17 years as a community development worker and has been an Anglican priest for 25 years on estates in Birmingham, Essex, Liverpool and Bristol. His Masters research is on Mission and Working Class Culture.

Firstly, there is a lot of rich reflection from Joe on the experiences of people in his community in Lockleaze, Bristol, as people gradually discern their gifts and what God is calling them to do. The documents on Joe’s reflections can all be downloaded from his website. An example you might want to look at here is

1. Accidental beginnings lead to core issues  This document tells the story of how the community began to identify the first of its local leaders. The other documents reflect on whether this process was specific to that particular estate or whether it was a journey that other parishes and communities could consider adopting or learning from.

Ideas for Liturgy and Learning on Estates

Joe generously shares plans he has developed for services which can take place outside the church building and are physically interactive. These can be found by clicking here.

He has also developed a Christian Basics course specifically for people on estates. He sensitively points out barriers to learning such as negative experiences at school and has designed the resources so that they can be accessed by anyone who has difficulty with reading.  The focus is very much on the physical presence of Jesus. These can be downloaded here.

Theological Models of Community Development

If you are a community worker or church leader on an estate you might want to take a look at Joe’s Theological Resources for Community Development

The brilliant thing about these papers is that Joe links perspectives drawn from liberation, feminist and Black theology to reflections on real experiences of communities working together to address serious issues. He goes into thorough detail about the reasons why concerns from people on estates have not been listened to by the local council and how people respond. An example is when children are seriously hurt and hospitalised by fast moving traffic on a dual carriageway.

The hope is that despite the injustice of power structures which appear to brush the cry of the poor under the carpet, changes can be made because people have risen up and asked for basic human rights like road safety and adequate housing to be taken seriously.

For anyone who sees their role in the community as a calling and a ministry, not just as a job or a place where they happen to be living, there is much food for thought in Joe’s writing to chew on.

Church Related Community Work in the United Reformed Church

United Reformed Church logo

 

Church Related Community Work is a distinctive and recognised ministry within the United Reformed Church and Church Related Community Workers play a vital role in the denomination’s community involvement. URC CRCWs are called by God, professionally and theologically trained and then commissioned to help the church to live out its calling.

If you are a member of the URC and feel called to ministering to your community you can read more about the role and the meet some past and present CRCWs on https://urc.org.uk/become-a-crcw/19-ministries/church-related-community-work.html

The United Reformed Church website also shares some very handy links to organisations that provide project development grants and funding on https://urc.org.uk/community-funding.html