Pilgrimpace's Blog


urban estates mission enabler

I’m really happy to announce that I’ve been appointed to the part-time role of Urban Estates Mission Enabler within the Birmingham Diocese.  This will be alongside my ministry as Vicar of St Bede’s, Brandwood.  I will be working as part of Paula Gooder’s Mission and Learning Development Team.

I will be continuing a lot of what I have been doing over the past couple of years, including convening the Estates Group and overseeing Jesus Shaped People in the Diocese.  I will continue to Chair the National Estate Churches Network.

I am excited and humbled by this!  Please keep me in your prayers as this chapter of ministry unfolds.

More details on the diocesan website here

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national estate churches network update


netlink

The new edition of NetLink, the newsletter of the National Estate Churches Network is available to read here.  Please let me know if you would like to go on the mailing list.

If you are on facebook or twitter, you might want to follow the National Estate Churches Network for updates and fellowship.



blessed are – beatitudes litany

A Beatitudes Litany that was formed by Tim Watson listening to Birmingham Estate Church Practitioners talking at our recent residential

Blessed are the misunderstood

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who live with question marks over their existence

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those whose congregations swell by one fifth when a new family arrives

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who see new families arrive just as the service is beginning and leave just as coffee is being announced

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who are working at capacity

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those whose congregations are vulnerable and can do no more

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who find themselves fishing in a declining pool

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those facing tricky handover situations

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who ask, “where is my calling?”

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the people who put the bins out

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the people in need of a new roof

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who ask, “What is God’s heart for this area?”

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who come into church, bringing life, making nice banners, but not doing the core things

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who think, “It would just be nice to have a team”

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the people feeling called to estates ministry

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the ministers who recognize that they are the “other” in their contexts

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who don’t have all the answers

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those whose churches are filled with more vulnerability than capacity

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who make a feature of the pipe work in the gent’s toilets and buy purple standard lamps

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who create beauty where not much beauty is seen – or –Blessed are those who uncover beauty where much beauty remains hidden

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who see generosity and abundance over scarcity

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the ministers who need reminding, “you’re not alone”

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who look at the community for what gifts and skills are already present

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who earnestly ask, “how do we love this place?”

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those trying to work in a blurry way

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who will not keep reinventing the wheel

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the churches who decided to stay put when their 1960s building was burnt down

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who struggle to recognise their own gifts

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who ask “how can we do effective Christian presencing?”

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who dance with their daughters at the civic hall

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who minister at the micro-breweries and snooker clubs

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the church members who leave their seats to go and sit with visitors

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the ministers who know that this act was the best thing about Sunday

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who deliver Fray Bentos pies to Food Banks

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those tired of hearing the word, “capacity”

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who long for Diocesan officials to come and wander around the parish for a day; visiting the local cafes, listening to the local community

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are the Diocesan officials who do just that

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who recognise the importance of humility

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who are a covenant to the people

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those who need to stop

For theirs is the kingdom of God

Blessed are those in need of refreshing

For theirs is the kingdom of God



Estate Evangelism – Ministry

I am pleased to be able to share this important and helpful article by my good friend and comrade Joe Hasler.  The two diagrams have not come out well on this – there should be circles.  You will be able to view them properly very soon on the National Estate Churches Network website.

In the estate churches network executive meetings we can be quite agenda driven but often we break out into conversation. One conversation was about what NECN member would want from us, and consequently what were estate ministries seeking to achieve. Two possibilities were identified. One was the minister, lay or ordained, who wanted to give the what people traditionally expected from their role or office, and to do it well. Another was those who saw the cultural situation as demanding something different which might be a sign of something bigger to the church. A difference which involved modelling ‘new ways of being church’. The following ‘think piece’ is a bit rough and ready and intended to provoke conversation, refinement or debate. Do not hesitate to submit your thoughts.

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A parish priest in the Church of England is by definition almost obliged to see the institution as a bastion of ‘English culture’.  Of course, the notion of parish suggests that in reality there is a commitment to ‘locality’; and perhaps even of sub-culture.  (Yet even many parishes may be a mixture of sub-cultures.)   A parish priest, at least, is stretched between the myth of English culture as a singular entity on the one hand and the myth of a local reality of one or more sub-cultures on the other.  What those of us who minister on housing estates experience is the suburban ’professional and managerial culture’ on the one hand as the powerful representation of English culture, and the ‘working class’ and ‘ethnic’ cultures on the other.

When an Anglican vicar is instituted, the Bishop will say “receive this cure of souls, which is both yours and mine:…”  If the priest is stretched in the direction of English culture she may think she has been trained to operate anywhere in the Church of England.  The emphasis will be upon the Bishop giving a cure of souls of a particular parish that they can have back again if they want.

The Renewal and Reform programme of the Church of England is seeking to promote evangelism on Council built housing estates.  It cannot avoid the differences that exist or it If the priest is stretched in favour of a contextual theology she might be different.  Here the Bishop shares her cure of souls which is to remain shared.  The vicar has responsibility to the cure in ‘context’ and the Bishop’s responsibility to the cure of ‘contexts in togetherness’ and becomes the focus of unity.  Here the bishop has to work hard in making sure that contextual freedoms do not offend the freedoms of others by their particular practises.  Maintaining freedoms takes more than just inventing rules.  It demands being a guardian of the faith.  This finds clergy, and maybe in our own historical situation estate clergy especially, viewing their concerns differently and not only clergy but ordained and lay ministers together.  In fact licensed and unlicensed ministries within a parish ‘team’ are variously stretched between trying to reflect a national and/or contextual culture, will fail to help us break out of the current trap of replicating suburban models which currently represents the suburban English national church at the expense of subcultural and contextually defined descriptions of mission and evangelism.

If I were pressed to begin to be more precise on what the difference was I would look at the pastoral cycle, or the learning cycle from which it was derived, to see how it is acted upon on Estates.  I offer two pictures of the cycle below.

The first picture is of how we do ‘evangelising ministry’ and assumes ministry and evangelism is done by ‘outsiders’.  By this I am referring to cultural outsiders and this includes outsiders who have become residents.

The point of entry is easiest where you can familiarise yourself with what is going on.  In the diagrammatic representation below it is at the point of joining the action.  After all, the outsider has no other way of gaining or joining the necessary common experience.   (This suits trainers in particular.  You can finish the first cycle by asking students to write up the theological reflection which can be marked.)

 

Picture 1.  Outsiders theology project.

ACTION

 

 

ENTRY

 

Theological reflection

 

 

 

 

REFLECT                                                                                                            EXPERIENCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLORE

 

If you are an ‘insider’ and you are trying to excite indigenous evangelistic ministry this approach makes little sense. In working class subculture, and among many others, the reason to learn is so that you can do something.   The sensible place at which to join the cycle is at sharing experience. (See picture 2 below.)   You then end the first cycle with action.  (Trainers find this difficult because they are left wondering how you tick the box called essay, or its equivalent.  Because of their own unfamiliarity with the subculture they are at a disadvantage in evaluating the action as evidence for learning.)

 

 

 

Picture 2.        Indigenous theology project.

 

 

 

ENTRY                                                EXPERIENCE

 

 

 

 

Practical Outcome

 

 

 

                                                                                                         EXPLORE

 

 

                                ACTION

 

 

 

 

 

REFLECTION

 

 

The evangelistic plus for indigenous evangelistic ministry is that we have people talking about a God they have seen through the eyes of their own culture.  This is harder and takes longer to achieve but a far more communicable evangelism results within a common culture.

 Why does this so rarely happen.  I would venture to suggest that ‘English culture’, a national culture, pulls so heavily in the direction of replicating suburban models.  Also, the church is not well endowed with people and resources to work with ‘inculturation’ methods of mission.  This not just a matter of money but also one of attitude.  Suburban sees itself as normal and those living on housing estates as representing deviancy.  (There are so many more studies of poverty as a problem than there are of wealth as a problem even though, in many ways, the latter is the cause of the former.

Furthermore, there have been bold attempts to free ministry with experimental initiatives.  However, it is not good enough to give people freedom to try new ways without setting up the support structures to facilitate them.  This demands being open to new ways of evangelisation and also at the same time new ways of being church.  The two issues are inseparable.  Otherwise it would be like inviting new people into a congregation, and every time they came up with a new idea telling them things cannot change.  It might be that this is too difficult.  If so we are in danger of further losing the engagement of those from working class culture and ethnic cultures in the multitude of housing estates the Church of England claims to serve.

The renewal and reform programme has to face up to the fact it has unwittingly stepped into the class divide of our social climate.  No doubt, being the Church of England, it will conduct itself with uttermost politeness.

 

Revd. Canon Joe Hasler.

 

P.S.  I have written this from the Church of England perspective that I know from experience.  This is not to exclude ecumenical partners from the conversation.  I am sure they will have different but equivalent experiences from within their own settings.

 

 

Essential bibliography

 

Laurie Green, Let’s do theology (Mowbray, 1990)       (Later edition available.)                                                     

Joe Hasler, Mind, Body and Estates (NECN, 2000)        (downloadable from joehasler.co.uk)

Joe Hasler, Crying out for a Polycentric Church (Church in Society, 2006)   (also from joehasler.co.uk)

Steven B Bevans, Models of Contextual Theology (Orbis, 1994)

Steven B Bevans and Roger P Schroeder, Constants in Context (Orbis, 2004)

 

Important resources

 

www.nationalestatechurches.org

www.theologyforall.org

www.joehasler.co.uk



necn update

Dear Friends,

I would like to update you on some upcoming events which are of interest to estate ministry.

Mission and Evangelism in Priority Parishes

February 22nd Taunton, building on the Bishopsthorpe Conference last year.

Details here: http://www.bathandwells.org.uk/event/mission-evangelism-priority-parishes/

At the Heart – On the Edge

is a new network and community of practice based on St Martin in the Fields.  Information about it and its opening conference here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/at-the-heart-on-the-edge-the-heartedge-conference-2017-tickets-29792821130

The Incarnate Network

have a gathering on pioneering and a retreat coming up.  Details here: https://www.tickettailor.com/all-tickets/5697/e39c/

As you know, NECN is currently building its work and vision.  I hope you do not mind receiving occasional emails like this – we are working out the best ways to communicate with you.  If you have any events or publications which are relevant to estate churches, please send them in.  We are also happy to advertise jobs and vacancies in estate churches.

With prayers for you and your Church,

Andy Delmege

on behalf of the Steering Group



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.

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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.