Pilgrimpace's Blog

urban congress 2017


I’m really excited about the 2017 Birmingham Urban Congress on Saturday 2nd December.  This is for people from inner city and outer estate parishes in Church of England Birmingham.

It is a day where we will be sharing stories of hope and holding on as we reflect on Christ’s challenge to us to stay in the city.  We have some great speakers.  The day is free, but you need to book to make sure of your place.  You can do this through your Vicar or direct at https://www.cognitoforms.com/Cofebirmingham/UrbanCongress2017

I look forward to seeing you there.


necn october news
October 26, 2017, 8:48 am
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Dear Friends,

I would like to update you on two important pieces of Estate Church News:

1. NECN’s next Conferences will be on April 16th in Blackburn and April 18th in Birmingham.  The theme is Tooled Up: The Craft of Estates Ministry.  We will be launching a toolbox of resources that we know work to strengthen and support Estate Churches in their ministry and mission.

Booking will open at the end of November.  Please save the date.  If you know any organisations that should be in the Marketplace at the Conferences, please let Andy or Lynne know.

2. Estates Evangelism Conference.  The Estates Evangelism Task Group, which NECN is a partner of, recently convened a Conference to build an ambitious agenda and alliance for ministry on estates.  This was excellent and hopeful.  There is a full report on Andy’s blog here.  There will be more news on the actions coming out of the Conference soon.  Please keep all those involved in your prayers.

With love and prayers,


estates evangelism conference report

Over the last couple of years, the Church of England has found energy and commitment to ministry on estates.  This has led to the formation of the Estates Evangelism Task Group within the Renewal and Reform Programme.  I am proud to sit on this, and also that the National Estate Churches Network, which I Chair, is a key partner in this, representing estate churches and their leaders of all denominations.

The Task Group has developed an ambitious programme for funding, supporting and encouraging churches and Christian presence on estates, coming out of a huge amount of consultation with estate churches and clergy since the Estates Evangelism Day at Bishopsthorpe in March, 2016.  The issue for us has been how to take this forward.  We are a few people doing this in the midst of other full commitments and jobs.

We invited as many of the agencies and groups who are engaged with estate churches to come together for two days at Launde Abbey in Leicestershire to build capacity and to ensure action.  Around 40 people representing at least 30 organisations were able to be there.  It is important to note that while some of the work is about internal change within the Church of England, there was a strong ecumenical presence and slant.

The Conference aimed to:

1.Build an alliance

2. Unite around an agenda for change

3. Share responsibility for delivering actions

4. To be mutually accountable for this

It began by getting us to reflect on and own this Commitment to Action:

(This is the fruit of eighteen months of consultation and was further refined at the Conference.  Personally, I think we should now act on this for a couple of years rather than refining it further).


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

  1. a) Challenging the Churches at every level to ensure that people from estates are represented in every tier of our structures
  2. b) Fostering and encouraging fresh and emerging forms of church life on the estates
  3. c) Developing an effective communications strategy to raise the profile of estates ministry and ensure that good news stories are celebrated
  4. d) Working together as ecumenical partners

Strand 2: Theology and the Public Voice

  1. 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?’
  2. b) Creating rich dialogue between theologians and estates practitioners to create a contemporary theological foundation for estates ministry and evangelism, exploring themes such as repentance, lament, cross and glory.
  3. c) Defining effective evangelism. What is it? What are the indicators? What constitutes success on the estates?
  4. d) Understanding the changing socio-economic and demographic context of estates ministry
  5. e) Engaging with Government and structures of power

Strand 3: Leadership

  1. a) Calling, developing and training local lay leadership
  2. b) Forming ordained leaders from and for the urban estates
  3. c) Offering support and high quality training to current leaders
  4. d) Challenging the selection and training pathways for licensed ministries and developing new forms of recognised lay ministry
  5. e) Ensuring sustainable patterns of deployment and support for Estates clergy

Strand 4: Resources

  1. a) Ensuring that appropriate financial resources are available to estates churches and that these resources are not wasted
  2. b) Helping local churches to find practical solutions to issues around buildings, administration and finance
  3. c) Signposting to contextually appropriate resources for evangelism, discipleship and ministry to Youth and children
  4. d) Working with partners to developing new resources where there is a recognised need
  5. e) Passing on good practice and inspiration through models, research, stories and toolkits



We were fed with challenging and reflective input from Jill Duff, Br Benedict SSF, Mark Russell and Malcolm Brown.  We were underpinned by worship and prayer.  We were well chaired by Philip North and Malcolm MacNaughton.

We spent a lot of time in small groups, working hard on deciding on actions on each of the Four Strands.  At the end of the Conference we were each asked to write which actions we could commit ourselves to both personally and on behalf of the organisations we represented.  We put these on prayer cards and placed them on the altar.  A small group will be forming these into a document – news on this in due course.

The question was asked as to “Who isn’t in the room that should be?”. If that is your organization, please let me know.  This is all about a corporate effort to renew the life of estate churches and estates.

At the end, a friend who spent all his ministry in estate churches said that he is now more hopeful than at any time since Faith in the City.  This is great praise and a lot to live up to.  Please pray for the Estates Evangelism Task Group as we take this forward.

Andy Delmege, October, 2017


September 30, 2017, 9:21 pm
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A late post due to a very full week.

Wednesday was the twentieth anniversary of my Ordination to the Diaconate.  Where has the time gone?  A good journey and a road ahead.

Dinner with most of the people I was ordained with.  A week that has included the usual round of services and pastoral work at St Bede’s, national estates work, a day with urban clergy in Southwark.  Praying, reading, reflecting.  A day off walk. A pilgrimage talk.  Many blessings to count.


how flourishing churches on estates are a gospel imperative

I’ve written a blogpost on this for the Church of England which you can read in full here

video here


or here:

I have spent most of my ministry living and serving on estates. One of the best parts of this for me at the moment is travelling across the country to visit groups of estate church clergy in a city or diocese. It’s a great delight to encounter colleagues who are doing faithful and creative ministry, often in very tough areas. I always come away encouraged and energised.
Estate ministry and estate churches have a distinctive nature. The parishes are largely made up of council or ex-council housing, often on the outskirts of urban areas. People living in them often experience high levels of deprivation, although they often meet this with great resilience. There are often issues with education and with self-esteem. Austerity has led to the social fabric of estate life being squeezed and threatened. Many people in these neighbourhoods are struggling with the basic necessities of life, things like a home, food, clothes, warmth, at a time when a lot of the vital support to negotiate the systems is being stripped away. Many estate churches are working out ways of feeding people – especially children – during the summer holidays; the excellent and essential children’s centres here are facing closure due to the cuts; the number of police around has shrunk.
Most estate churches are deeply involved in the fabric and life of their parishes, often through actions and partnerships that seek to serve the community. Over the past couple of weeks I have seen churches engaged in imaginative children and families work, including a Holiday Kitchen; a School Uniform Swap; Places of Welcome allow people to drop in for a cup of tea and a chat. However, many estate churches face problems of capacity and congregation sizes are often small. There is often a feeling of not being understood by the wider Church.
In much of the country, people who live on estates come from a predominantly white working-class background, although in some areas there is fast demographic change. This can result in a damaging gulf between the culture and assumptions of the Church in its national and diocesan forms and how it exists on estates. This can take the form of assumptions that a middle-class lifestyle equals a Christian lifestyle; assumptions that people have spare money or access to computers; to what can be a deep-rooted feeling that you don’t belong.
Renewal and Reform has put a strong emphasis on estates and evangelism; seeing flourishing churches on estates as a Gospel imperative, as a response to under-investment in the past, and because things that work on estates are likely to work anywhere.
I have become Chair of the National Estate Churches Network, which has more than 20 years of experience in the area of ministry and is presently renewing itself as an independent but close partner to the Church of England’s new energy for estates ministry, representing estate churches, ministers and workers. We have a Kairos moment, a moment for urgent gospel action, where we can help our estate churches to flourish.
A key part of this is in forming groups of estate clergy in local or regional areas. There are many ways in which they can function, but they help us thrive and flourish, giving a corporate space to build and articulate vision, overcome isolation, share good practice, identifying particular training needs, reflecting theologically from our contexts, support those new to estates ministry, and offer mutual support and encouragement.
If you would like help in setting up an Estate Church Group, please get in touch at andydelmege@nationalestatechurches.org
Andy Delmege is Vicar of St Bede’s Church in Brandwood, south Birmingham. He is Urban Estates Mission Enabler in the Diocese, and is Chair of NECN.
This blog was produced as part of the Church of England’s Renewal and Reform programme, aimed at helping us become a growing Church for all people and for all places.

14 June 2017
  1. There is an important poem by Fr Alan Everett from St Clement’s, Notting Dale about Grenfell in The Guardian here

and an interview with him here

These are essential reading for those involved in estate ministry or social housing

estate ministry
August 31, 2017, 12:42 pm
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There’s a little video of me talking about estate ministry here: