Linda is a minister, an Anglican priest, based in Halifax, Yorkshire, a town which has areas of high deprivation. She is curate of two congregations in this town, and also co-leads Saturday Gathering, a Saturday evening church which emerged from a Food and Support Drop-In and other services. In conversations with Martin Robinson and Mary Publicover Linda reflects on some of the challenges of this ministry, and her dependence on God to find a way through.
Perched on a stool at the end of the bar, just beneath an enormous screen showing Britain's Got Talent for those whose interests quite understandably lay elsewhere, I gave a talk on the way that Catholic social thought provides resources for thinking about the current migrant crisis. It was an evening when I was (unsurprisingly) cheered and heckled in equal measure: political theology as a fittingly extreme sport. At the end of my talk I suggested to the crowd...
Vancouver housing has become so expensive that only the very rich can afford to live in a private home. About a quarter of the city have a more insecure existence in social housing, or for some, on the street or in shelters. These populations do not naturally mix. Tim Dickau, Joy Banks and Mark Glanville are ministers at Grandview Calvary Baptist Church and describe how their church has sought to be part of reshaping the city by living into signs of Shalom...
Ruth Rice, minister of a Baptist church in a Nottingham suburb, pioneered a high street wellbeing café called Renew 37. This café has turned out to be helpful for the mental health of the local community and for the church- and a place where both can encounter God in prayer. Ruth’s story is one of amazement at every turn because this café was not part of some long term plan but has emerged from relationships within the neighbourhood and a compassionate conversation about some lonely people.
Mat Wilson tells the story of the week a community of travellers moved onto the sports fields managed by the church on behalf of the neighbourhood. How would a church commited to welcome and hospitality navigate the tension between this group and the neighbours and their sports field?
Although Pastor Toyin is a Nigerian and her congregation is part of a Nigerian denomination, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, interestingly the smallest national African group within the church is drawn from Nigeria. The white English community represents the single largest group. There are other white migrants present from various European nations and from commonwealth countries such as Australia. It’s an intriguing and remarkable mix. How did this come about?
In the early 1900s Pastor Howe, a new graduate from Spurgeons Bible College stumbled upon a tiny slum estate attached to the gas works in London’s East End. He chose to move in to Bonny Downs and set up a mission in the midst of that poverty. One of the new Christians on that estate was a young girl called Rose Tribley whose grandchildren and great grandchildren are still there, leading a remarkable missional community in an area which still suffers deprivation. Rose Tribley’s granddaughters Angie Allgood and Sally Mann tell their story of ‘staying’ in two video interviews with Martin Robinson.
Invitation to participate
After an extended period of difficulty and internal conflict, the Churches of Christ Queensland council was uncertain. There were seventy affiliated local churches in 2009, but half were very small, involving under fifty members. Overall congregation numbers were declining. Conversely Churches of Christ Care, a separately governed agency, was thriving but was disconnected from the Church. There was a view that the Queensland Church of Christ council was irrelevant. Significant distrust and organizational silos were everywhere. It was wryly quipped that the mission department were so poor that they ‘reused the teabags’...
My family moved to our neighbourhood three years ago and began the work of connecting and making our home here. It has been a slow and humbling time. I have been confronted with my own agendas and baggage - a need to be someone who comes to help, start something, improve life and offer my own ‘awesomeness’ to the street. I have had to (and continue to) learn to slow down in order to show up, let myself be seen, let go of my agendas and be open and ready to participate in the common good as it is named by my neighbours. Following Jesus in my neighbourhood has me on a strange and disorienting journey in which I believe I am called to be a supporting cast member.
The challenge to plant a church can lead us into some surprising places. When Viv Prescott was recruited to plant a church in the Forest of Dean, flexibility and listening was always part of the approach. Those who know anything about the area quickly realize that it combines astonishing natural beauty with demoralizing rural poverty. It is a poverty that saps strength and imagination, it depresses, damages self esteem and tends to encourage those with significant ability to leave the area and not return. That background has become part of the landscape that has shaped the way in which the small Christian community, sponsored by the Salvation Army, has taken shape in that place.