Pilgrimpace's Blog

theology for all

Theology For All : Godtalk on Estates

I have been privileged over the past year or so to be part of this project pulled together by Joe Hasler.  The website contains some fascinating examples of how theology, mission, discipleship and ministry have flourished in Estate Churches, along with some attempts to say why this is so important.

Click here to have a look.

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.

claiming resurrection in a dying church

I am really enjoying and being stretched by Anna Olson’s book Claiming Resurrection in a Dying Church.  The wisdom this contains from years of priestly ministry in inner city Los Angeles speaks deeply to my situation here.  I would really recommend this to all who minister in areas of deprivation in the UK.  It is a book of real theology.

“What if we give up?  What if we concede that we don’t know what to do with the current moment, or most of the last twenty years, and certainly not the next twenty?  What if we admit that our congregations in their familiar forms will will be gone in twenty years or in ten?  What if we acknowledge that what we’ve been able to hang on to is slipping from our grasp?

When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ The he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19.30)

What if we give up?  Stop trying to pull ourselves out of the grave by our own bootstraps?  What if we give up the idea that our hard work will be rewarded by a shining church and put our faith in the promise that the path to resurrection is through death?  What if we let go of the idolatrous idea that God wants all human religious endeavours to thrive and trust that God is ‘making all things new’?  The collective gasp may well become a sigh of relief.  Becoming a congregation that tells the truth may be a great liberation.  Some people will be angry, defiant, blame the quitters.  But others will stand up taller, freed from the burden of carrying the lie.

Giving up does not mean locking the doors and going home.  If God is not finished, we are not either.  There is more for us: more life, more hope.  But we are freed from knowing the shape it will take.  We are freed from the daunting task of birthing the new with only our waning strength.  We begin to face the future with freedom and faith rather than fear and the weight of failure.

Giving up on success frees us.  We are free to measure the fruits of our ministry not by the marks of longevity, affluence, and popularity but rather by the mark set by Jesus: love of God and neighbour.  If our churches cease striving to be full and flush, we can strive to be places where we and our neighbours practice welcoming and being welcomed, forgiving and being forgiven, loving and being loved.  We can live fully in whatever time we have left, claiming our place in the sacred story of death and resurrection.  Relinquishing our claim on survival, we can walk toward death in faith and hope, offering all that we have left to a God fully capable of doing a new thing in our neighbourhoods and our communities.  In short, we can be who we were always ready to be.”

evangelism and the estates

There is more material appearing from the York Conference on Urban Estates and Evangelism.  This short video raises some good material for reflection and gives a good flavour of the day:


More material is being posted on this page – worth keeping an eye on.  Malcolm Brown’s Theological Reflection is now on it.

Please pray for those charged with seeing this through nationally, and for Birmingham as we work on our response as a Diocese.

evangelism on urban estates

I spent Tuesday at the excellent Evangelism on Urban Estates Conference in York.  I will write a report on it next week, but in the meantime the press release about it is here

and Bishop Philip North’s keynote address is here


jesus shaped people – catching some insights

The comments below were collected during an evaluation of Jesus Shaped People in St Thomas’, Garretts Green, one of our Estate Churches in Birmingham.  They fill me with great joy and admiration, and I am so glad to be part of a process of helping parishes like this move forward.  I’m really looking forward to the discernment process to see exactly what this Church is being led into next.  

These are certainly worth spending some time pondering and praying through.  I will be referring to these in a talk next week, so I’m leaving them here for people to see.

  1. I felt closer Jesus, more at his level, more part of what he did


  1. We’re Jesus’ disciples today, were here to continue his work


  1. Jesus loves us and he taught love


  1. Jesus is involved in all aspects of life, not just in church or in service but in politics too.


  1. Being Jesus Shaped sometimes puts us in uncomfortable situations or places


  1. We have to be forgiving and show love and kindness, we should have open arms.


  1. Jesus trusts us to further the kingdom so we should trust him; even when we mess things up there is always hope


  1. There are distractions all around us in our daily lives; JSP bought me back to realise Jesus is always there and it has given me more passion.


  1. How do we talk to people about our faith, especially those on the fringes of church. How can we make the most of our contacts?


  1. How can we reach out to more people, especially those on the outside?


  1. We need to equip ourselves to do good things really well


  1. Church/faith is a good place to be; safe on the inside where we get protection and are supported.


  1. JSP confirmed a lot of what we already do


  1. Prompted me to think about the things we do and why we do them.


  1. Prophetic Challenge made me think about how we can share our story, we show God’s love in what we do but we need use words as well to speak about our faith and why.


  1. We are already quite Jesus Shaped but we need to communicate why we do what we do.


  1. Jesus wants us to enjoy ourselves with others (eg steam club) Jesus is with us there too – he often went to “parties.” It’s about being fully alive.


  1. We are ordinary people and it’s OK to do ordinary things


  1. Jesus always had an eye on people and an eye on God at the same time.


  1. There is a positive energy and peace

updated theses on non-academic learning

I have updated my Theses on Non-Academic Learning.

Please read the renewed post here: