Pilgrimpace's Blog

christmas, tiredness, pressure, social media
December 18, 2018, 4:17 pm
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I am Chair of the National Estate Churches Network.  NECN is committed to flourishing estate churches, and as part of this flourishing we want our estate churches to be bigger and have more people.

But we know that many of our churches are small and that growing them is often hard, slow work.

This is one of the times of year that church leaders and clergy are really tired.

We are also now solidly in the season of social media where colleagues are sharing their successful Christmas services.

How does this all feel?
What does faithfulness and success look like for estate churches?
How do we judge if we are doing it?
Should we all take a social media break for a fortnight?

A load of slightly random thoughts, but would value your take.

Prayers for you all in the business end of Advent


advent journey – rest
December 23, 2017, 7:05 pm
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There is a very meditation by John O’Donohue For One Who is Exhausted a Blessing on the On Being Blog here.

Worth reading and listening to in these over-full days.

May God bless you this Christmas

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.


advent journey – “success”
December 22, 2017, 4:57 pm
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Christmas (and in terms of season I am solidly in both Christmas and Advent for these days) is a beautiful and strange time for clergy.  For myself there are the wonderful, huge number of services, assemblies, opportunities to share with people something of God.  But there is also the challenge of having time and energy for my family.  And, as we all know, there is a shadow side to the season.

We can find this a bit in social media, which (if you follow the same people as me) can be full of clergy who are justly proud of the numbers attending their services.  Now, I am fully in favour of having as many people in Church as possible (part of my ministry is a missioner), but I am also aware that many of us in urban housing estates and other places will be ministering as hard and imaginatively and faithfully as possible, but may have very few visitors and regular congregation in Church this weekend.  This can be crushing, especially when you are exhausted.

So, maybe we might think before we tweet or facebook our numbers.  And, to be honest, it might be best to stay off the computer for a bit.  Spend time with family and friends, watch a film, read a book.  Much more healthy.

My prayers for you all over the next days.

(and Sarah Schofield says similar things much better here).

advent journey – kindness
December 21, 2017, 3:34 pm
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“The past year has seen so many conflicts and disasters causing so much suffering and we can be left with a sense of paralysis and helplessness.  But through prayer and small acts of love in our own lives we can, at least, bring light and peace to the places where we live, valuing each and every person.  One of the mediaeval mystics, John Tauler, used to repeat often: ‘Be kind, be kind, and you will be saints.’  Our simple acts of kindness can help to neutralise the hatred in our world and make Christ present to others.”

– The Sisters, Wood Hall Carmel

advent journey – preparing
December 20, 2017, 10:09 am
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Gurmil roots in soak

advent journey
December 18, 2017, 4:38 pm
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clues to the way:


(and a reward if you find the Way?)

advent journey – slipping forwards

I spent Thursday in London for a meeting of the Estates Evangelism Task Group.  It is wonderful to see the progress that the Group is making and the enthusiasm for Estate Churches that is welling up in the wider Church.  There was the good news of the new Church Commissioners Strategic Development Funding grants to dioceses, several of which are concentrating on estates or other deprived areas.  You can read about the Blackburn grant here.  I am really looking forward to deepening the Birmingham partnership with this and learning from it.

In the meeting we reflected on the excellent Launde Abbey Conference a couple of months ago.  Bishop Philip will be in touch with the participants about taking the actions forward very soon.

I walked from home to the local railway station gingerly, slipping and sliding on the sheet ice, trying not to fall.  More importantly than my meeting, others were travelling to or across London to St Paul’s for the Grenfell Tower Memorial Service.


photo from Wikimedia Commons

You can read Bishop Tomlin’s moving Reflection at the Service here and listen to Isabelle Hamley’s Thought for the Day on it here.

There is so much on my heart as I meditate and pray on all this.  It is good to keep silent and still.  But one thing that keeps surfacing in my heart is that, as I reflect on the past year, I am very proud of the positive steps that the Church is taking with estate churches and ministry, but this is overshadowed by the stark fact that life is harder for so many of the people who live on them.  There is much work to do.  The shadow of the Tower hangs over us in judgement.