Care for the environment may have slipped a little below the media radar during the pandemic but this does not mean that climate change has been reversed or gone away. Despite the fact that travel has been greatly reduced at this time, summer temperatures in parts of the northern hemisphere have reached record highs this year. Recently Canada’s last remaining ice shelf collapsed.
So what can we do about this?
If you or your church cares about God’s creation you might want to take a look at the free films and leaders notes that are available on the Catholic Faith Exploration website by clicking here. These films have been produced by CaFE on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.
“Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience. All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the
care of creation.”
Pope Francis in his encyclical ‘Laudato Si – Care for Our Common Home’, June 2015.
The videos are designed to be shared in Catholic Churches but can be used by any church group concerned about our planet Earth. A practical leaflet produced to accompany the course can be downloaded on this link How to care for our planet Earth
What is CaFE?
Catholic Faith Exploration runs DVD based courses designed to help people explore their faith in a relaxed, cafe-style setting. The idea is that hospitality will enable people to feel welcomed and able to talk about their faith with others. During the pandemic whilst it is not possible to meet physically the films can be downloaded and shared remotely at a cost of £20. You can find out more here.
During COVID-19 the Talking Jesus course created by Hope Together will be free until the end of August 2020.
This is a practical 6 session course which can now be shared with groups online about how to tell others about Jesus. Simply click here and follow the instructions to register your group to the free course. A short video explains how this course gives people confidence to talk to friends and people they know about Jesus.
More about Hope Together
Hope Together is about showing the unconditional love of Jesus in our local communities, whether this be through setting up a food bank or working with local community organisations. Church members are encouraged to invite others to become a follower of Jesus.
Churches in Birmingham have created ‘We are the Church’posters to display in windows and remind people that the church is still present in neighbourhoods, even though we are scattered. You can download a poster by clicking on this link HOPE-Rainbow-Poster
You can click here to read about lots of other practical ideas for sharing love in your local community. This includes a short video on how to offer support to someone who is bereaved. There is also a Discover Bible app available which can be read in virtual groups.
This week we introduce Greg Smith, who lived and worked for churches in the London Borough of Newham for 27 years.
Greg has recently retired but has generously listed links to his many works and writings on urban mission and 21st century evangelism.
For anyone who would like to reflect more deeply on where God is at work on the estates or how understanding Christian doctrine can be relevant to the lives of working class people in a multi-cultural society, these writings are an excellent resource. You can explore more by clicking here.
Greg’s works are also very useful for anyone training for any form of church ministry who feels especially called to work on the estates or an inner-city context.
For example, a very readable paper entitled ‘Biblical Bases of Socio-Political Action‘, explains how Christian involvement in social and political issues are linked to key beliefs about God, Creation, the Fall, God’s justice in the Old Testament, the Kingdom of God, Jesus, Salvation and Christian living. Greg writes from an evangelical perspective and as a practitioner who has lived and worked among Christians from different churches and people from other faiths and with no faith.
” …it is out of the experience of mission,
and the awareness that such evils as poverty, racism, unemployment and bad housing
are barriers to the Gospel…”
We hope that you enjoy exploring the fruits of Greg’s theological research and reflection among the treasure of God’s Kingdom, the people of the urban estates. Much of what he has written is still highly relevant to today, particularly in the light of increasing poverty during the pandemic and to bring an end to racism highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement.
The idea of the course is to help Christians talk to our friends, neighbours and anyone we know about what we believe. There are a couple of short introductory videos on the website which explain a bit about the course.
Resources are free to download though you will need to sign up to access the next 5 sessions.
Whilst it is not possible to meet as groups in church at the moment or in each others’ homes, it would be possible to share this course on the internet if you can access Zoom or a similar on-line platform for sharing.
He has written a book on this called ‘Lets Do Theology’. Theology is there for all of us to do, not just for academics. God is calling poor people especially to have a go at doing theology because we may not be rich but we have a rich amount of experience to reflect upon and we still have our faith, just like Jesus did when he became incarnate and lived for 30 years before he started preaching.
As you will be well aware coming from an estate does not preclude anyone from being academic. For those of you who wish to go deeper Laurie provides links to plenty of additional papers to contextual theology on https://www.lauriegreen.org/theology-1/index.html
Jesus Shaped People have been producing resources for churches now living with the fall-out from COVID-19. A link a video clip explaining more can be found here.
New resources include two short video clips on the themes of ‘Loss’ and ‘Discovery’. These can be downloaded and shared remotely with your church community or a church group that meets for prayer and Bible study. Brendan asks questions to reflect on and pauses after each question so that the video can be paused to allow for group discussion. If you would like to view these videos visit https://www.jesusshapedpeople.net/node/216
After years of working with churches in disadvantaged communities (on housing estates, with Church Urban Fund and currently with St Martin in the Fields) I’m doing research into the response of C-of-E churches to need. C-of-E churches are busy doing all kinds of work in a context of social change, cuts to public services and increased need. I want to understand this important activity more.
My research focuses on four C-of-E churches in varied contexts, that each use different approaches to respond to need. I will spend between 5 to 10 weeks with each, help out with activity as a participant and then interviewing some of those involved, generating a case study of each.
Can you help? I need to find four C-of-E churches to participate in this research. To help find the four, I’ve adapted a social work model that summarises four essential ‘types’ of response to need. It’s not perfect – however, it’s a useful start for talking about responses to need. I’m looking for a C-of-E church for each of those four types.
It might be you think your church is responding as one ‘type’ and could be involved – please do be in touch.
Andy Turner –
Centre for Community Engagement Research | Faiths and Civil Society Unit
Department for Social Therapeutic and Community Studies,
Goldsmiths, University of London | New Cross, London, SE14 6NW | UK
Or maybe there’s a church you know of, that you think could be worth approaching? Please contact us if you can help and we will put you in touch with Andy Turner.
Church Action on Poverty are looking for an experienced practitioner to facilitate peer learning amongst churches in Greater Manchester.
£27,905 – £32,029 pro rata, 7 hours per week, to be worked flexibly
25 days’ annual leave pro rata plus generous employer pension contribution
Based at Church Action on Poverty office, Salford. Working across Greater Manchester and occasional travel nationally. Subject to negotiation, the work could also be carried out on a freelance basis, paid on an appropriate daily rate, equivalent to the gross cost of a paid staff member.
Our new Church on the Margins programme in Greater Manchester seeks to promote the idea of a ‘Church of the Poor/Church on the Margins’: a church of justice, inclusivity and welcome. The Church on the Margins programme will be delivered in conjunction with the Methodist Manchester and Stockport District, the Centre for Theology and Justice based at Luther King House and other ecumenical partners. It will develop a network for people who are involved in church activism, estate ministry, people from church congregations, inclusive church, alternative church and those who want to make church a more welcoming place for all.
Over the next three years we will establish and facilitate a series of peer learning sets, to bring together groups of churches and projects across Greater Manchester, to explore together what it means to be a ‘church of the poor’, how to respond lovingly to their local context, and how to fully engage in Christian within marginalised communities. They will share stories of how their faith informs their action, and their action deepens their faith.
The facilitator will work alongside other members of the programme team in facilitating peer learning sets, participatory theological reflection and wider learning on what it means to be a ‘Church on the Margins’ within Greater Manchester.
Urban Life is a Christian organisation that has developed learning programmes to help groups reflect more deeply on their mission. The programmes are designed for people who work in urban areas and on the estates.
Groups meet to learn and reflect theologically on their practice and the encounters they have had. A Masters Degree programme is also available.
Urban life currently have spaces available on Experiments in Mission in the East Midlands with a taster session on the 13th February 2020 and a full start in March. Please click here for more details.