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.

 

Help for Families in Mixenden for Half Term

Good News
From the left, Revd Robb Sutherland, Ash Green Community Primary School headteacher Mungo Sheppard and Halifax MP Holly Lynch, delivering vouchers to students’ homes.

As half term approaches we have some good news about how Holy Nativity Church in Mixenden have stepped in to help hungry families.

Ash Green Community Primary School provide breakfast packs and food parcels to the most vulnerable families and families have been able to access the government free school meals vouchers.

To fill the void during the holiday, Holy Nativity has secured funding to provide every child in the school with a £10 shopping voucher. The vouchers are being hand delivered, abiding by social distancing guidelines, by school staff, Reverend Robb Sutherland, vicar of Holy Nativity Church himself and school governors.

Ash Green’s staff members regularly undertake house calls during lockdown to check on children’s welfare, deliver food, hand out prizes for outstanding remote learning work. They support families with any concerns that can’t be dealt with by phone.

Revd Sutherland said, “We hope that a £10 Morrisons voucher for each child at Ash Green will help families across the estate and make being stuck at home in the coldest and darkest part of the year a little bit brighter.”

You can read the full story here.

Have you got good news to share about how your estate church is helping families during the pandemic? We would love to hear all about it. Please get in touch with christinem@cofebirmingham.com and we will put this on the website.

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
 

Interview with Guvna B

Christian Rapper

Guvna B, a double MOBO Award winning rapper and author from East London, was recently interviewed at the Everything Conference, the focus of which is how Christians can renew culture. Guvna B has faced challenges and disadvantages in life but has nevertheless achieved some remarkable things. How has God has used these weaknesses or the disadvantages in his life to more effectively serve Him?

Here are some extracts from the interview as Guvna B reflects:


“Well, I grew up on a council estate in East London and a big disadvantage would be the lack of opportunity…

I actually started out rapping about girls, guns, drugs, and I realised that I didn’t do drugs, didn’t have a gun, didn’t get any girls…

I’d say the only thing more exhausting than standing out and being true to yourself is waking up every day and having to put on a mask and pretend that you’re someone that deep down you know that’s not you…”

His talk about being true to yourself and God, despite the pressures of growing up in a tough area is really inspiring and honest. If you would like to read more of Guvna B’s reflection visit:

https://www.wordonthestreets.net/Articles/598116/Interview_with_Guvna.aspx

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/

 

Apostolic training for an indigenous ministry?

Estates practitioner and priest, Joe Hasler offers some thoughts around training local people for God’s mission in extracts from his poem below. The whole reflection can be downloaded at the end of this post.

Bristol Estate

Apostolic means ‘Go to’

or ‘being sent’.

An Apostle meaning

‘one sent on a mission’.

  •     We have had the decade for evangelism,
  • a pre-occupation with leadership,
  • and now the emphasis on discipleship.

I hope this means

the direction is getting closer

to listening

to the people on the ground.

 

An important message I have heard in all this is,

“Do we want a ‘Come to’ church

or a ‘Go to’ church.”

Is it desirable to move from maintenance to mission?


So how do the trainers

and their institutions

model God’s mission

in the way we do training?

We have been trying to address these issues in the Northern Ark Mission Initiative in North Bristol.

The pilot period has come to the end of its initial three years.

Some things could have been done better

but we ask

‘Why do people from local council built housing estate congregations in Bristol come forward into growing ministry teams?”

38 people from 4 out of 6 parishes have stepped out so far;

with some to become licensed readers (6),

and some to become ordained priests (3).

Making ministry training

in a mission model

must be one of the driving forces.

But for all the things

we might have done better

here are four things we did well.

  1. Take the training to the people.
  2. Go in twos. (THE INTERVENTIONISTS)
  3. Forming learning communities in the culture.
  4. Practise what we want to preach.

The experience is that the trainers model a ‘go to’ approach

and learning is integrated

with activity in mission.


The beginning

and the end

is in becoming a more self-sufficient congregation

that is more dependent on God.

 

Indigenous is not isolationist.

It is making a stronger contribution to a bigger whole.

But local interventions

can bring the confidence

to let this, happen.

 

I think this is mainly

because the trainers,

no matter how good they are,

‘go to’.

The result is of a local congregation that naturally goes to the wider world and church.

This is what has been modelled in their training.


(More information about the initiative can be found at www.joehasler.co.uk   then find  other stuff and click on drop down menu for northern ark publications.)

To download the whole reflection click Apostolic Training for Ministry and New Pathways

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.
🕯

 

Ken Leech Memorial Lecture: The Eye of the Storm

The Eye of the Storm

Ken Leech Memorial Lecture 2020 – “Learning from Ken: how to breathe in the tempest “

About this Event

Ken Leech Memorial Lecture 2020 will be given by the Right Reverend Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool, on Tuesday 3rd November 2020, at 7.30.

Paul Bayes has been the Bishop of Liverpool since 2014. His ministry is marked by his concern for equality and justice.

The Lecture is held in memory of Father Ken Leech (1939-2015), who spent his whole ministry caring for the marginalised and disadvantaged. He authored many books on theology, pastoral care, and social justice.

To register visit:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ken-leech-memorial-lecture-2020-tickets-126385603743

Reflecting on your estates ministry

Estate churches are fragile communities, especially at the moment in the financial crisis brought on by COVID-19. With regulations and the pandemic situation changing day-by-day now might be a good time to pause and reflect.

How has your church community responded to the pandemic? What has this experience been like for you and for others? What has the experience revealed about inequalities and the structures of our society? Where is God in the experience? How might God be calling us to respond?

These questions are based on the structure of estates practitioner Laurie Green’s Pastoral Cycle:

  • Experience
  • Explore
  • Reflect
  • Respond

You can hear Laurie Green explain more about the process of getting stuck in and doing theology by clicking on the highlighted words above. Doing theological reflection always starts from experience.

A similar cycle of reflection, Gibbs Reflective Cycle, is explained in the video below by a German teacher who reflects on her experience of teaching German in a Spanish school. The starting point is grounded in experience, reflecting upon it, analysing it from different perspectives and coming up with a plan of action. This in turn leads to a new experience, further exploration, further analysis and refining the action plan.

An important point to note is that reflecting on experience involves listening to others as well as oneself, not diving straight into action. Another point to remember is to see the gifts that the people in your community already have, not just the difficulties that your community has to live with.

GRA:CE Project Launch (online)

GRA:CE Project

At a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty, what is the future for the national church? How should it respond to the intensifying social, material, and spiritual needs of the people it exists to serve? How has it adapted to declining levels of religious affiliation?

Drawing on three years of extensive research across the country, the GRA:CE Project – a partnership between Theos, Church Urban Fund, and the Church of England – seeks to address these core issues from a study of the relationship between church growth, discipleship and social action in the Church of England. It considers how the Church’s service to its local communities can enrich congregations, both numerically and in their discipleship. It does this through the distillation of over 300 interviews with clergy, lay people, and community members from over 60 communities across every Anglican diocese in England, as well as new analysis of national statistical data.

Uncovering how Anglican churches of all sizes, contexts, and traditions integrate social action and discipleship in creative and transformative ways, the GRA:CE Project provides critical insights into how churches can meaningfully engage with the needs of their communities, build strong relationships, and see their congregations grow both numerically and spiritually.

Join the GRA:CE Project for the launch of the research findings and recommendations, engage with expert panelists, and participate in this important conversation by clicking here.

Confirmed panelists are:

Dr. Grace Davie: Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Exeter and author of Religion in Britain since 1945: Believing without belonging

Rev Graham Hunter: vicar at St. John’s Hoxton

Rt Revd Philip North: Bishop of Burnley

Hannah Rich: Theos researcher and author of the report

Richard Springer: Rector at St George-in-the-East, Director of the Urban Leadership School at the Centre for Theology and Community, and Dean of Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic Ministry for the Stepney Area.

The event will held on Zoom, and there will be opportunity for audience Q&A. Information on how to access the Zoom event will be sent upon registration

The GRA:CE Project has been made possible by the generosity of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust and the Hartham Church Charitable Trust. It is an exciting three-year research programme that is exploring the relationship between social action, discipleship and church growth. To learn more visit https://cuf.org.uk/what-we-do/the-grace-project