Pilgrimpace's Blog

good things for estate churches

Just to catch up on a few things that are well worth reading or attending if you are involved in estate churches.


sunset, estates South Birmingham

Malcolm Brown has written a good blog piece here that explains well the recent energy the Church of England has found for estate churches and begins to set out what might happen as a result.  I am very proud to be playing a part in this – and would be more than happy to hear any ideas or comments about this.

Here in Birmingham, the Inner City and Outer Estate Groups are holding our first Urban Congress on Saturday 5th November, Faithful People, Faithful City.  The congress will hear stories from around the Diocese and with the aid of our guest speakers will share some of the challenges and opportunities parishes experience in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ in their communities.  There are full details here.  If you haven’t signed up yet, please do now – there are a few places left.

The National Estate Churches Network, which I am about to start Chairing, has it’s Conference in London on November 7th and in Rotherham on November 9th.  This year, Gillian Ahlgren will be helping us to think about Practical Spirituality: Transforming Lives and Communities.  It offers the opportunity to visit again the joy of estate church life and present important challenges to help us refresh our connections with the traditions of Christian spirituality and consider how they help make a practical difference to our loving our estates and communities.  It will be a practical day with the sharing of the wisdom in the room as we seek to unlock, and share, our own, and other stories and experiences to gain fresh insight and discover new ideas.                                                                                      Click here for more information and to register.

Exciting and creative times.  Love and prayers.

national estate churches network

I’m poking my head out of Sabbatical for a moment to publicise a couple of National Estate Churches Network things.

You can read the latest edition of Netlink here


You will see in it this piece of news from Laurie Green:

Very significant and exciting things are happening for NECN right now because, as you may have noticed, Housing Estate ministry is becoming a strong focus for policy both for the government and also within our churches. The Church of England has recently decided to place this ministry high on its agenda and to that end will set up an Estates Evangelism group as a key element of its Reform and Renewal programme so that the poor can be brought to the centre of its strategies for policy on evangelism and resourcing. This seems to me to be Gospel Good News indeed! Bishop Philip North is to chair that estates group and has become a member of our own NECN Executive group so that we can help and resource them. We’ll offer some of our estate experience and presence to inform their programme.

We have already been working together to determine what that programme should be and you can read the latest draft on page 3 of this edition of NetLink. It makes for exciting reading and brings together under four headings what we on NECN are all about – and is also exactly what the CofE group want to see happen. We, of course, are a significantly ecumenical network but our Executive all agree that our other denominations and groups can all gain from this work, and the CofE is only too aware that to think of going it alone on our estates would be foolhardy. Any comments you want to offer about this four-fold programme would be really welcome.

The second piece of news I want to share is about our Executive group. Many will know that I have been chairing NECN for twenty years now and I really think we need a new chair with fresh ideas and energy for all that lies ahead. I’m glad to say that Andy Delmege has stepped forward and I can think of no one better suited, given all his experience, wisdom and commitment. Jane Winter too has signalled that, after so many years as secretary and co-driver of NECN, she too needs to step back and we’re really grateful to Lynne Cullens for agreeing to work with Andy, just as Jane has worked with me, to form a new partnership to manage the work of the Executive. Jane and I will remain very much involved of course and if any readers wish to join our Exec group do let us know. So it’s all systems ready to go! We have our AGM in December so that will be the time for change-over. I very much look forward to seeing many of you at our November national conferences in Rotherham and London – more details in this edition – and warmly welcome any comments about all this news. I’m sure that we now have a strong team and a welcome agenda for NECN and for the years ahead

I am extremely proud to be taking over as Chair of NECN and look forward to working with Lynne, Philip, Laurie and the rest of the Executive Group to do whatever we can to support estate churches and the people who live on estates.  As Laurie says, please let us have any comments or ideas.

This year’s Conferences are coming up:


Transforming lives and communitiies

This year’s conference invites us to sense again our call to estate ministry and life by looking at our Christian spirituallity and its impact upon our distinctive ministry.The day will be led by by Dr. Gillian Ahlgren, a leading speaker on spirituality and social justice, from Cincinnati, and by Andy Delmege, Convener of our Birmingham group.

The conference offers the opportunity to visit again the joy of estate church life and present important challenges to help us refresh our connections with the traditions of Christian spritiuality and consider how they help make a practical difference to our loving our estates and communities.

This is a practical day with the sharing of the wisdom in the room as we seek to unlock, and share, our own, and other stories and experiences to gain fresh insight and discover new ideas.

 As always the conference is for all who belong to estate churches, lay people as well as ministers, from all denominations and groupings.

To keep costs to a minimum (£25 – Lunch and hot drinks included) the same programme is offered in two locations – North and South – to keep travel costs down.

London: St Paul’s, Straford, Maryland Rd. E15 1JLRotherham: Ox Close Avenue, Rotherham. S61 3JL

10.00 Welcome & Coffee 10.30 Conference start
12.30 Lunch (included) 15.30 Conference closes

Please click here to book or for more information.

reading enkindling love

If you are in Birmingham, you might want to join this group reading Gillian Ahlgren’s excellent Enkindling Love:



This is the title of a new book on the legacy of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross by Professor Gillian Ahlgren who recently spoke about it at All Saints Kings Heath. About it Alison Weber of the University of Virginia has written: …”This guide of Teresa and John’s major works reveals the Spanish mystics as passionate teachers and systematic theologians determined to share their transformative experience of God’s love. Gillian Ahlgren makes accessible their major insight: the inherent coherence between contemplation and loving action in the world.”

The book is in print and the cheapest deal seems to be just under £20 from the Book Depository. In one case the book came 7 days after an order was placed by email to:


The group meets from 12.30 to 13.30 on a Wednesday. Members often bring and eat sandwiches. Its first meeting is to be as usual at the Queen’s Foundation, Somerset Road, B15 2QH (for directions see their website) in the Samuel Marsden Room just off the dining room. The date is to be Wednesday June 22nd. It is a ten minutes walk from University railway station.

The next three meetings, on July 6th, 20th and August 3rd, will, because Queen’s term will have finished, be elsewhere, in a room at the church and centre complex of St Francis Bournville, B30 1JY, five minutes walk from Bournville railway station. All are welcome.

The book has four chapters and the intention would be to study one at each meeting.

Further details from: The Revd John Nightingale johnbnightingale@hushmail.com 07811 128831who will be glad to know the names of those intending to attend.

easter journey: enkindling love

There are lots of very good things coming together on this blog this Easter.

Here is an article by Gillian Ahlgren on how Teresa of Avila’s The Interior Castle has impacted on her over the years.

I am looking forward to continuing work with Gillian as the fruits of the Christian mystical tradition inform and feed work with those on the margins of our society, and work with those on the margins transforms and deepens our understandings of the traditions.

Gillian’s new book Enkindling Love: The Legacy of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross will be published in the UK next month.



santa teresa

We celebrated St Teresa’s Feast a couple of days ago.


Here – slightly late – are links to a couple of talks linking Teresa with life today from the excellent Conference in London in the summer.

Firstly, Gillian Ahlgren (who will be leading an evening at St Bede’s in November – details here) on Wise Action in a World of Suffering and Injustice: Teresa’s Vision for Today

and Sisters Jo, Philomena and Mary of Joseph from the Association of British Carmels on Living the Teresian Tradition: Thoughts from Praxis.

These are all people who have given me a great deal of generous encouragement and wisdom as I have tried to make my way.  I encourage you to spend some time with these films.

rooted – an invitation

Rooted: An invitation to explore practically how mysticism feeds and informs Christian social action with Professor Gillian Ahlgren

Tuesday 24th November, 2015 at 7.30pm.

Professor Gillian Ahlgren, theologian and Director of Xavier University’s Institute for Spirituality and Social Justice (Cincinnati, USA) will be leading an evening to help clergy, ministers, church workers and others to reflect on how the Christian Mystical Tradition can inform, feed and galvanise our social action.

Gillian has written extensively on how the vision and practices of the tradition’s great mystics (including Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis and Clare of Assisi, and Ignatius Loyola) can be used to empower people at the margins.  She is engaged in work with Hispanic women recovering from abuse.

The evening will be at St Bede’s Church in Brandwood

(Doversley Road, Birmingham B14 6NN).

More information from the Revd Andy Delmege, tel 0121 6930217

Please let us know if you can come


teresa conference – 2

My favourite talks in pictorial form (photos pinched from teresaofavila.org):


Iain Matthew


Rowan Williams

Gillian Ahlgren

Gillian Ahlgren

S Mary of Joseph

S Mary of Joseph

S Philomena

S Philomena

and an entirely self-promoting photo of this blogger in full flow: