We live in challenging times. Global politics, Brexit, and unstable government added to terror attacks and disasters lead to fear, uncertainty and turmoil.
One interesting outcome of the Grenfell Tower fire was the extra profile given to the challenging and diverse nature of communities like North Kensington, which are often hidden and unseen in more stable circumstances.
Many of us know that there are thousands of communities, housing estates, urban, suburban and rural, who are facing social crises. Added to that is our knowledge of God’s heart for the lost and lonely, and Jesus example and call on the church to go to, and love, the unloved.
An article in the Independent in 2015 claims that Britain is the loneliness capital of Europe, with the article entitled ‘The loneliness epidemic: We are more connected than ever, but are we feeling more alone?’ (Monday 30 March 2015). According to the Department of Health, ‘five million older people say their main companion is the TV set, and almost one in five older people are in contact with family friends and neighbours less than once a week.’ (The Guardian, 22 January 2013)
Counties evangelist, Colin Johnson has been visiting people on their doorstep for many years. Over time, he developed a new approach, asking ‘How can we help,’ instead of ‘come to our church.’ This model of Neighbourhood Chaplains has now been taken by Counties and been developed into a programme that can be adopted and used by churches all across the UK. The training programme, delivered in three modules, will help to equip churches to reach the broken, lost and lonely in their communities, ‘bringing the love of Jesus in word and action to your street.’
Counties are currently running six pilot projects in different parts of the UK, as diverse as Brinnington in Stockport, and Torrington near Barnstable. 100 churches have registered their interest in joining the scheme, and Counties will begin regional training days from this autumn. Training will equip churches with both practical tools, training people to operate as first contact, befrienders and helping hands. Providing a biblical basis for the programme, the training also has a focus on the Gospel, with all those being trained learning how to share their faith, tell their story, listen, and answer tough questions. Guidelines are given for putting policies in place, and launching out with a trained, badged and uniformed team of Neighbourhood Chaplains.
Colin Johnson reminds us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, there is a spiritual thing going on. As Neighbourhood Chaplains, we see human beings as emotional, physical and spiritual and we try to help them emotionally, practically and spiritually.”
To register your interest in training near you, and in your church becoming a member of Neighbourhood Chaplains, please contact Jenny Rossiter at the Counties office, firstname.lastname@example.org 01373 823013.
Welcome to Simon Ladd.
Simon joins Partnership as Regional Co-ordinator for East Anglia and the Midlands, where he will be supporting, encouraging and resourcing leaders and churches. Simon has been a full time church leader for the last 30 years. He pastored in FIEC, Baptist, Pentecostal and Brethren churches. He has also worked in Highpoint Prison and worked on a residential project with 18–25 year old males battling drink, drug and substance addiction.
Simon has been married to Belinda for 30 years and they have three grown up children. If you are in East Anglia or the Midlands, please do get in touch with Simon, he looks forward to hearing from you. He will be contacting leaders in Partnership churches in his area, so please look out for an email from him!
The Joshua Project comes to Gloucester, starting on 5 February 2017.
Glebe Chapel, Newent and Abbey Church, Gloucester are joining together for the course, and and there are spaces for people from other churches to join in. This project promises to be something that will help us grow as followers of Jesus Christ and be more effective in our witness and service.
If you are interested in taking part, please contact Andrew Conlan, Partnership's Regional Co-ordinator for the South West, at email@example.com.
More details of Joshua training can be found at http://www.tilsleycollege.com/tilsley/joshuacentres.html.
Welcome to Andrew Conlan.
Andrew Conlan joins Partnership as the Regional Co-ordinator for the West region in England. He will support the local networking between church leaders and others who are active in church life.
Andrew & Kim met, were baptised and married at Alum Rock Gospel Hall, Birmingham. They retain some links with the city including Andrew’s long-suffering support of the Blues. After Andrew had qualified as an accountant they were volunteers with CMS in Tanzania for a couple of years and later moved to Chard, Somerset returning to their church roots at Combe St Evangelical, now Forefront Community Church. Andrew was part of the leadership for most of the 25 years we were in Chard.
After taking early retirement from accountancy in 2007 he was employed by the church as Team Leader while doing a part time Masters at Moorlands in ‘Christian Leadership’. In 2013 they moved to Gloucester to work with Abbey Church. It is a key aim of the Regional Co-ordinators to bring local clusters into being, but the intention is that the clusters are led by local steering groups or individuals who know the needs in their areas and can shape the local programme of events. If you are in the west of England and want to be involved, please do get in touch with Andrew.
Partners in Partnership
Two churches in the North-East London cluster have joined together in an initiative for sharing the gospel with young families – they have jointly appointed a Church Family Worker.
Four years ago, a ‘health Check’ at Latchett Evangelical Church was conducted by the Church Strengthening Initiative (CSI), and the final report made a number of recommendations for improvement and suggested that the Church could consider a Church Worker with partial financial support from CSI. Three years later, and after the retirement of their ‘Mums & Tots’ group leader, and the subsequent demise of that group, the leadership considered the possibility of seeking funding from CSI for a Worker to develop a new ministry. The outreach of the church was strong in terms of senior citizens, but there was no feed into the church at the lower age range.
About this time another local fellowship, Canfield Road Chapel, was quite independently considering something similar. As the Partnership cluster was beginning to get established in the area the suggestion was made that Canfield (just a mile away) could work in partnership with Latchett and the two churches could share a Worker.
The process of seeking a grant, agreeing terms between the churches, drawing up a Job Description, advertising, short listing and interviewing took about 15 months. Finally, and with the full support of CSI, in mid-June the new Church Family Worker was formally appointed and a Reception and Commissioning event was held. A steering group comprising leaders of each church will be directing the worker and someone not involved directly in that role will act as the Worker’s pastoral support.
Furthermore the two churches, who each serve in well-defined areas of Woodford (and with historical links, having shared the same ‘founding fathers’ in the 1930s) have decided that they will seek out further ways in which they can co-operate and share resources.
Both churches have challenging times ahead, but with the new Worker on board, and with the support of John Jenkins of Partnership, they are looking forward to this fresh approach and seeing Christ build His Church.
By Tim Smith
"It was a joy to welcome new Pastor, Tim Goodall, who started his ministry on May 1. This follows a period of nearly four years since our last Pastor moved on – a period in which we have learnt a great deal.
One of our main concerns has been to find ways of building closer relationships with the many warm contacts we have in the local community. These grow from a pre-school, mid-week clubs and the work of Youth and Community Pastor, James Bell. For some months we had been thinking and praying about the possibility of Messy Church. On April 9 we launched, following on from a holiday club which attracted over 50 children. We had little idea what to expect. In the event 80 people who would not normally be present at church activities came for two hours of varied craft, songs, a short talk and food. The response was enthusiastic, with all wanting more. It’s demanding with a lot of work required but rewarding, creating a space for people who would not attend a ‘normal’ service. We now aim to make it a regular feature of church life."
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