Pilgrimpace's Blog


new necn website

We are proud to announce NECN’s new website:

https://estatechurches.org/

necn-facebook-profile-image

There’s still a little bit to do, but please share this with anyone involved in estate churches.

Please join in the conversation – we are very happy to publish guest blogs and articles

and please let us have any comments or suggestions

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The Built Environment, Churches, Transformation, Spirituality

NECN had this enquiry:

 “I’m interested in how the church can facilitate the transformation of the built environment. I’m interested in the psychological effect of social housing on inhabitants and how good design can facilitate the presence of God in a community.

I’ve done a little reading in this area but I was wondering whether you might be able to direct me to any persons, resources, or organisations that you know of who work in this area or are exploring these issues.”

 There have been a good number of comments in different places.  This post is to gather them together.  Please add to this and keep the conversation going in the comments below.

 

Gosh … Thamesmead. Yes.
Heard a fascinating R4 programme in the summer which describes Thamesmead South (where I am) as being built by architects according to atheist principles … ie if you meet purely physical needs, you have met all human needs.
Issues like beauty / social spaces / spiritual inspiration were ignored.
The built environment therefore directly militates against everything a church aims for.
Still working out a cohesive approach … other than picking up the spiritual bits which the environment causes.

 

Headspace – the psychology of city living” by Dr.Paul Keedwell is a helpful read. It deals with aspects of the built environment and how it impacts…

 

Tim Gorringe The Built Environment

 

David Walker: “Reading my book, God’s Belongers may be a start. I’m also part of the NHF Great Places Commission and we’ve seen churches in real anchor roles.”

 

Anne Power Estates on the Edge

 

“It is also worth following current housing discussions following government releasing cap on council borrowing for new building and following Grenfell wish to avoid some of the errors of the past. How the church can influence these discussions nationally is a challenge as it has not been a major player since days of Faith in the City. However in many local areas housing associations were begunChristians, and still have significant involvement. See recent tributes to Michael Eastman or Richard Farnell.”

 

Les Crossland: Principalities, Powers and Social Structures

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7UDiSlsmmA8QWJIWWdORFhsVGM/view?fbclid=IwAR2yruWxwqtqsdh-Zv85ylc8ujB_WyQX5CpCkm7F3rNpskphUy_oU2ngUW0

 

Foxes have holes. Christian reflections on Britain’s housing needs” ed Andrew Francis available through Ekklesia.

 

“I would suggest looking at work by Stephen Hill and also the latest publication by CSAN (Catholic Social Action Network) called ‘Abide in Me’ http://www.csan.org.uk/…/2018/11/Abide-in-Me-CSAN.pdf. Suggests more Catholic parishes should be exploring this area…”

 

“I wonder if the communities that engaged with the Grenfell Tower fire 18 months ago have reflections to share.”

 

“My tuppenny worth is that the key to an environment in which people can thrive, even a not very beautiful (to some eyes) brutalist one, is some sense of collective ownership, neighbourliness, love and attention. Even so called “sink” estates can be great places to live when there is a sense of community safety, good regular maintenance and upkeep, some green planting and well used children’s areas. These things can be helped by design but don’t depend on it. Look at privately run tower blocks like those of the Barbican. The only difference between them and a council run Tower block is a concierge type service and good maintenance. A small but committed Christian presence in a community can be the catalyst for this kind of regeneration.”

 

“A very practical one is the offer of non commercial meeting / conversation space – in areas of vast “urban sprawl” with no high street etc they are one of the few “public” spaces”

 

“Minimising sensory hell and adding some ownership.”



Urban Congress 2018 – Seeking the Kingdom in the City

More than 70 people from Church of England Birmingham’s inner city and outer estate parishes gathered for the day to reflect together on our life and mission as disciples within the city.

20181006_100945363832784.jpg

This year, the Congress had a very dialogical and conversational character – people spent a lot of time talking to each other in small groups, with those from the Diocese listening.  It felt very much that this was a living example of Robert Schreiter’s concept of The Community as Theologian.  We had fun, we worshipped, we ate together.  We watched these films about mission and the kingdom in some of our parishes.

St Thomas, Garretts Green

St John and St Peter, Ladywood

Hodge Hill Church

The Church and the Estates

Paula Gooder introduced some biblical images of mission for us and got us thinking hard about which most excite us in our mission.  Here are our reflections:

Go! Matthew 28: 19 – 20

– ‘go’ and ‘come’ are both encompassed in this.

– relational

– comforting

– journey through life

– who we touch

 

Seek the welfare of the city, Jeremiah 29: 7

– welfare

– shalom

 

Freedom, Luke 4: 18 – 19

– it is easier to be a giver than to receive

– the importance of being broken

– issues of Church v Kingdom

– people we know

– “difference”

– mission at home.

 

An Uncomfortable Kingdom, Luke 13: 19

– weed

– untidy

– what our church does

– plant on purpose?

– symbolic tree

– abiding place

– how do we accommodate it?

– is the Kingdom like Japanese knotweed?

 

Care for the Stranger Luke, 10: 33

– receiving help

 

Parable of the Talents, Luke 19: 12

– little brings a lot

– put it to use

 

The Ethiopian Official Acts 8: 26

– explaining scripture

– our lives challenge others

– instant results vs long journey

 

Touching Jesus’ Cloak, Luke 8

– we want more!

 

Workers in the Vineyard, Matthew 20

– God’s nature – rewarding last minute workers the same fair wage and dignity

 

Yeast and Leaven, Matthew 13

– don’t fiddle with it or you will break it

– doing things at the right time

– doing things in God’s time

 

Mary

– scared

– terrified

– obedient

 

Nativity

– turned away

– no one listened

 

Widows and Unjust Judges, Luke 18

– persistence

 

God loves the world, John 3: 16

– love for everyone

– God loves us first

 

Jesus and the Lepers, Luke 17

– tending wounds

 

Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5

– social justice

 

Sending out: Luke 10

– why I am here

– things happen

 

Chosen by God to Bear Fruit, John 15

 

Sowing Seed, Matthew 13

– not knowing what soil we have

– prodigality

– it is up to God

 

 

 

 

WHAT INSPIRES US?

– to see everyone welcomed

– our communities changing

– bringing people and communities together

– encouraging one another in mission

– looking inside – what is my purpose? what can I give?

– making Jesus accessible for all

– people coming together to share

– seeing God’s grace at work

– wanting Church to be different

– being joyful

– working with schools

– blessed are the poor

 

 

SOME OF THE ISSUES WE FACE:

– the community working together

– including young people in church

– theology and suffering – called to engage and respond

– intergenerational learning, reverse mentoring

 

 

 

WHAT IS NEEDED TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN?

– “how to” guides

– more social media

– recognising the gifts that are already there

– mentoring / small cell groups

– sustaining with prayer

– working as churches together

– calling and releasing gifts

– working with all agencies

 

Simon Heathfield responded at the end of the day:

What are the things that matter?

What is God saying?

  1. Where is God’s sweetness?

– our parish

– our identities in God – this means seeing gift before deprivation

– let’s believe God’s identity in this place

– God has given us our identity, the authentic thing God calls us to be

– “there is treasure when you find what people have to give”

– what is the treasure in your place?

 

  1. Is your Church ‘come’ or ‘go’?

– building a culture of invitation

– ‘go’ = being changed

 

  1. Messiness

– how comfortable are you with mess?

– suffering?

– mustard seed

– Jean Vanier “I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes.”

– the conversation today has been really positive

 

  1. Who is driving the agenda?

– where is the agency?

– the agency, the initiative, the power come from outside

– giving you the vision God has for you

 

  1. How do you deal with issues of timing that you cannot control?

– mission as not-knowing

– taking the long view



necn news

DoA-cOgX0AABIvR

  1. A Worshipping Community on Every Estate

It was great to be part of the NECN London Gathering last week where the Church of England’s Estates Evangelism strategy was launched, and to see so many friends there.

The strategy is ambitious.  This catches a glimpse of the vision:

Imagine a thriving, loving, serving, worshipping Christian community on every significant social housing estate in the country.

 Imagine a church which has really grasped the truth that renewal comes from the margins and is happy to invest imagination, resources and its best leaders there.

 Imagine new leaders, ordained and lay, from and for the estates churches, an army of Caedmons who can speak the Gospel in a language people understand.

 Imagine priests, new and experienced, longing to serve in estates and finding in that ministry inspiration, support and a profound sense that they are changing lives.

 Imagine estates residents, church leaders and theologians in rich dialogue to discern together the Good News of Jesus Christ on our estates.

 Imagine even more people who live on estates finding in their local church a voice for justice, a place of service and a community of love and in so doing discover their true dignity and beauty in Jesus Christ.

There is a great film accompanying this.  Watch it here:

The CofE issued this Press Release:

The Church of England is “coming back” to the estates, reversing a trend where over decades, services like shops and children’s centres have withdrawn, the Bishop of Burnley has said.

In a speech delivered at the National Estate Churches Network, the Rt Revd Philip North spoke of how outer estates are to be a key priority for the Church, with the publication of a new Commitment to Action to share the Christian faith on some of the country’s most deprived estates. He also launched a new film outlining the work.

The plans have been prepared by the Church’s Estates Evangelism Task Group, which is chaired by Bishop Philip, and is part of the Church’s Renewal and Reform programme.

Addressing the conference at St Francis at the Engine Room in Tottenham Hale, London, Bishop Philip said: “We want to have a thriving, growing, loving church on every significant estate in the country.”

The group is also committed to training estates residents to become future church leaders and to supporting existing Christian communities on estates, which may see collaboration with other denominations.

Speaking about the work of existing estate churches across Dioceses, some of which have been supported by the Church’s Strategic Development Funding, Bishop Philip said: “The Church is coming back. The Holy Spirit is doing amazing things on the estates of this nation.”

Birmingham Diocese’s Urban Estates Mission Enabler, Revd Andy Delmege, who is chair of the Estates Network and vicar at St Bede’s, Brandwood in Birmingham, said: “As a priest who ministers on estates, I am very excited about these plans.

“I pray it will continue to stimulate fresh energy, vision, and resources in our existing estate churches, as well as inspiring new initiatives.”

The Revd Helen Shannon, vicar of church@five on the Strawberry Estate in East Finchley, London, said: “The Church of England’s vision is ‘A Christian presence in every community’ that means no forgotten people; no forgotten places, even in some of our toughest estates.

“I’m so excited that the Church has a growing commitment to the revitalisation of estate churches, plans to launch new estate churches where none currently exist, and a vision to raise up local people from the estates to achieve this.”

Debbie Clinton, Director of Renewal and Reform, said: “Estates ministry is vital to the growth of the Church. I am delighted that as well as encapsulating the vision for estates evangelism, these new plans build on the wonderful work already being undertaken on estates churches by clergy and lay people, who are committed to meeting the spiritual and social needs of estate residents.”

and you can read a good article about it in the Church Times here:

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2018/28-september/news/uk/share-the-good-news-on-estates-and-the-nation-will-take-notice-says-bishop-of-burnley

There will be more detail about the strategy and how it is being implemented as we go on.  It is an attempt to put into practice the Four Strands (https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-11/Estates%20Evangelism%20Commitment%20to%20Action_0.pdf), which come from a great deal of consultation with estate churches and other partners.

I pray that this is something we can all get behind and that it will make the difference on the ground that we are crying out for.

NECN is one of the key partners in this (and members of our Exec are on the Estates Evangelism Group and vice versa).  Our task is to help keep the energy going, to represent estate churches, to ensure things are bottom up, and to keep ecumenical perspectives at the centre.  None of this can happen without your support and prayers.  We will do our best to include you all and to keep you informed as things develop.

 

  1. London Gathering

One of the things that has come out of the London Gathering is that there are a number of issues that make estates feel a bit different to the rest of the country.  These include

– a marked ethnic mix in populations

– rich and poor living in extremely close proximately

– a complete lack of affordable housing

– an assault on social housing

– particularly sharp issues around gangs and knife crime.

It therefore makes sense to have a Conference especially for the London Region.

If you would like to be part of the group organizing this, or if you are interested in a local NECN Group, please contact Andy.Delmege@estatechurches.org

More news on this soon.

 

  1. NECN will have a new website very soon.

 

  1. Don’t forget our National Conferences in Bradford on June 18th and Birmingham on June 20th. More details to follow.

 

  1. If you want to be on the NECN Mailing List, please contact Andy.Delmege@estatechurches.org

 

please share this widely!

 

love and prayers

 

Andy

 

 



sharing justly

I was interviewed this morning on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Programme, calling for a just sharing of historic assets between dioceses so that mission and ministry at the sharp end can be supported.  You can hear the interview here (it is towards the end of the segment that begins at 6 minutes).

This is a vital and urgent issue.

Here are some further thoughts to try to take the issue further and deeper.

The situation we are in is that there is a huge disparity in wealth between the different dioceses.  Some (particularly the newer urban dioceses in the north and midlands like Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham) have very little in terms of historic assets and reserves.  Other dioceses are in comparatively very comfortable situations.

Why should ministry be harder in these places because they are newer dioceses, formed without historic assets?

This is not posturing.  My greatest concern as someone who is a parish priest and who visits and supports a lot of housing estate parishes around the country is that this directly affects mission on the ground.  There is clear evidence that dioceses in more economically deprived areas with less historical assets have fewer stipendiary ministers per head of population.

This has a clear effect on our parishes and their ministry. If you have to pay more Parish Share, or your parish is larger, or your diocese is concentrating on reorganization, or you are affected by all the fear and stress that this can bring, this is going to affect your capacity for imaginative and creative mission.

The Church is investing in estate churches and estate evangelism at the moment – something which is wholehearted Good News – but the lack of fair assets in some place endangers this.

What does the Gospel say?  well, it certainly does not advocate a Postcode Lottery where if you live in one place, the historic assets of the Church mean you pay less for more ministry; while if you live in another (which may well be more economically deprived), you pay more for less.

We need urgently to work out ways of justly sharing our historic wealth.  Bishop Philip North reminds us clearly that The first Christians dealt with their wealth in so daring and counter-cultural a way that it proved powerfully attractive (Acts 2.44). Property and income was pooled so that there was no distinction between rich and poor, slave and free. (Read his full Church Times article here).  We can do this for dioceses – we are Christians, we are part of the Church of God, we are generous.

Can we find ways of tackling this in a root and branch way, or – at the very least – with wealthier dioceses funding some things in those with least.  Bishops and Diocesan Secretaries – over to you!

And the rest of us – pray, share this issue, and keep the pressure on.



thoughts on estate ministry

reflecting on grenfell tower

It is harrowing watching and reading the evidence from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

The 72 deaths and the destruction of lives that we see in the Enquiry is dreadful.  We see how the eroding of the fabric of our society has led to tragedy for those who have been least able to defend themselves.

It is important to be silent – to allow space for the survivors, to make sure we don’t grandstand.  It is vital that we lament, that our raw and our considered emotions can be brought before God.

It is also important that we campaign.  Campaign and agitate so that this will not happen again to anyone else.  Professor Ann Power has an excellent blog here on ten lessons we can learn from Grenfell that must be put into action.  She knows more about this than anyone else.

We are also in a housing crisis.  We must continue to be unwavering in getting into the heads of the political class that decent housing is an urgent right for everyone.  As John Boughton reminds us in his excellent Municipal Dreams, it would be even more of a disaster if Grenfell were used in our social policy to further undermine social housing.

Teresa of Avila reminds us sharply, “Can there be an evil greater than that of being ill at ease in our own house?  What hope can we have of finding rest outside of ourselves if we cannot be at rest within?”  Good homes for all people are at the heart of what it is to be human and are at the heart of God.