Pilgrimpace's Blog


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.

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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



Urban Congress


Final preparations for Saturday’s Urban Congress. Very excited …

Praying for all the parishes from Church of England Birmingham who will be there



reflecting
November 15, 2017, 6:53 pm
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urban congress 2017

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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.



food for the journey 2
August 29, 2017, 5:29 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

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I recently posted about the daily Henri Nouwen email.

Cris has commented, reminding me that you can also get a daily meditation from Richard Rohr

https://cac.org/sign-up/

What feeds you on your journey?



the best place

​It has been wonderful recently to spend time with groups of estate clergy from around the country (reflection on this will come soon). 

I was at Belle Isle yesterday with the Estate Group from West Yorkshire. It was great to hear everyone suggesting they have the best parish in the Church and the best job.

Walking home from the station, my friend the Heron reminded me strongly that I do.

Love and prayers



life in a hidden light

There is a very beautiful little film here of my friends the Carmelite Sisters at Wolverhampton.

Click here

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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



being there

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back from a very good Birmingham Estate Clergy Residential with twenty colleagues who I completely respect.  The excellent Tim Watson listened to us carefully and led our worship.  He crafted this poem from our words.

Being There

Being there

Not just ticking the boxes

But asking,

“Will joy come in the morning?”

.

Owning the mission

Despite capacity

Knowing our communities

Are first to feel the effects

Of austerity policies

.

Embodying generosity

Willing to share skills

And live out extreme generosity



“Nothing is of any use to me now but the power of giving”

I’m reading Our Holy Ground: the Welsh Christian Experience by John Morgans and Peter Noble.  I really recommend this – it’s giving me great insight into Wales, building on the walking I have done and that which awaits me (and the book increases this – I read about Llantwit Major and think, I could work out a route to take in that too …)

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This quote from Rhygyfarch lamenting the destruction wrought by the Normans speaks to me:

Nothing is of any use to me now but the power of giving: neither the law, nor learning, nor great fame, nor the deep-resounding glory of nobility, not honour formerly held, not riches, not wise teaching, not deeds nor arts, not reverence of God, not old age; none of these things retains its station, nor any power.  Now the labours of earlier days are despised; the people and the priest are despised by the word, heart and work of the Normans.

I can think of so many places now where similar laments are being sung and it seems such a time of sunset rather than sunrise.

And yet I am struck by the first line: Nothing is of any use to me now but the power of giving

I am privileged from time to time to spend some time with a group of people who have been profoundly broken and who are engaged in the long process of rebuilding and transforming their identities.  Recently a couple of them told me that everything happens for a reason.  When I asked what this meant, they said that the evil and terror they had suffered had led them into a wonderful community and their new selves.  We talked about the need, if it is possible, to make something positive of what we are given.

Nothing is of any use to me now but the power of giving

Again, I am drawn back to John of the Cross’s Saying:

Where there is no love

pour in love

and you will find love.