The Estates Evangelism Task Group is a strand within the Renewal and Reform programme which takes very seriously the words of Jesus in Luke Chapter 4, ‘I have come to proclaim good news to the poor.’ We contend that, unless we renew church life amongst deprived communities and most especially on our nation’s outer estates, we are not being faithful to the words of Jesus and the renewal we long for will never come.
In February 2019 the General Synod took a historic decision as it backed a motion sponsored by the Estates Evangelism Task Group which commits us to having a loving, worshipping Christian community on every significant estate in England. That means offering enhanced support to existing estates churches and finding ways of planting back onto those estates from which we are absent.
The Task Group seeks to offer support to Dioceses and to the wider church as we respond to the challenges of implementing that decision. We are doing this in the following ways:
Strategy. You can read our commitment to action here. Behind this short statement there is a detailed strategy which outlines ways in which we can champion estates ministry, raise up leaders from and for estates churches and develop context-appropriate resources.
Research. We have a detailed list of estates parishes across the country (i.e. parishes with 500 or more social housing homes) and have mapped those areas of social housing where church life currently appears to be weak or non-existent. Our desire is to use this data to target where we can work with a range of parties to address the gaps.
Consultation. Dave Champness works as consultant with the group. Part of his work is to collect examples of good practice in estates evangelism and share these with others. He is available to support dioceses and others engaged in this work and can be contacted via [email protected].
Theology. The Estates Theology Project has brought together pairs of practitioners and theologians to ask the question, ‘What is the good news from the estates?’ They will report back through podcasts and a book (in partnership with SPCK) in late 2019 and early 2020.
Partnership. We have developed partnerships with people and organisations who share our commitment to renewing church life on the estates. These include mission agencies, resource and training providers, planting parishes, other denominations and Dioceses with larger numbers of estate parishes. A key partner is the National Estates Churches Network (NECN), which provides a support network and resources for estate leaders.
Communication. We have written to the leadership teams of all 2,500 estate parishes making them aware of the Task Group and NECN’s work. We continue to use a range of media, written, spoken and social, to raise the profile of estates ministry and attract able leaders to this work.
Listen to our series of Renewal and Reform podcasts featuring people who are passionate about estates evangelism. The speakers have set up churches and worshipping communities on some of the country’s most deprived estates.
Revd Canon Dr Jamie Hawkey hosts a discussion with Revd Lynne Cullens, Bishop Philip North, Revd Claire Turner, Revd Ann Richardson, Dr Justin Stratis and Revd Dr Al Barrett to sum up the podcast series and explore what the future holds for the project.
Liza Ward pays a visit to St Chad's Church in Rubery, a parish that spans the Worcestershire / Birmingham border, to see how boundaries, both real and perceived, impact estate parishes. She also discovers how two evenings spent under the A38 flyover attempted to bridge those divides.
Liza Ward travels to Twydall, an estate on the edge of Gillingham, Kent in southeast England, to learn about how local voices contributed to making the Twydall Declaration.
Presenter Liza Ward travels to the Wythenshawe estate in Manchester to see how a weaving project brought William Temple Church closer to those in the community.
Urban Estates Conference
This nine-part series was recorded at the Urban Estates Conference held in 2017.
Bishop of Burnley, Philip North, chair of the Archbishops’ Estates Evangelism Task Force, talks about his experience of ministry in disadvantaged areas. Bishop Philip says, residents living on deprived estates urgently need to hear “a language of hope”. In this podcast, he provides advice on how the Church can achieve this.
Mark Russell is Chief Executive of Church Army and a member of the Archbishops’ Council. In this podcast, Mark offers an acute appraisal on the shortage of church leaders raised on outer estates. Mark comments that it is “important that the church is able to raise up leaders indigenously in estates, and empower them to lead”.
A leader on the estates church - [email protected] in North London – Revd Helen Shannon says her experience of estates evangelism has been “wonderful”. However, Helen who also oversees estates church planting for the Bishop of Islington, says estates work can be challenging, at times. In this podcast, she recounts speaking with residents who felt unworthy of God’s love. Helen explains how [email protected] wholeheartedly encourages residents to “come as they are”.
Dawn Lonsdale is the Chief Officer of Unlock. Unlock is a non-denominational charity based in Sheffield that supports inner-city churches in making the gospel more accessible to local communities. In this podcast, Dawn explains that Unlock encourages the people they work with, to speak about their personal experiences, and then link them “to the bigger story of God’s people in the Bible”. Dawn describes this approach as “setting the gospel free in urban communities”.
"I have the best job in the Church of England” declares Revd Robb Sutherland. Robb is the vicar of an estate parish in Halifax. In this podcast, he talks about how becoming a Christian at eighteen changed his life. And dispels misconceptions about living and ministering on an estate - “this is not a bad place, this is a wonderful place, with wonderful people who support each other”.
Rae Pears is a regional coordinator at Urban Expression – a mission agency that works in under-churched areas. With her husband, Rae runs Holy Spokes, a bicycle maintenance workshop in East Bristol. In this podcast, Rae speaks about the importance of estates evangelism practitioners collaborating more – “partnership is hugely important”, she says. And she explains why she views Holy Spokes as an opportunity for mission work, rather than evangelism.
Despite her dedication to her estate parish ministry, Revd Ruth Young left to perform more community work. She is now a community mission adviser. In this podcast, she talks about ways churches can build relationships with their local civic organisations. She explains how she prompts churches to see themselves in their communities as “salt and yeast…they need to be mixing in with what’s going on”.
Revd Canon Simon Gatenby runs the Westcott in Manchester project – an initiative that places ordinands in parishes in Manchester. The project exists to provide a diverse ministry experience. In this podcast, Simon says, “Manchester offers a variety of parishes. Parishes where there is considerable poverty, deprivation… both estates and inner-city parishes”.
After a placement with the Westcott in Manchester project, Revd Abi Thompson abandoned her plans to work in a North London church. Instead she became a vicar on an estate church in South Yorkshire. Speaking about her time in Manchester, she says she “completely loved it”. Abi appeals to ordinands to, “try going somewhere and doing something that is completely different…and be prepared to be surprised by God”.
Keith Jackson is a minister at St Anne’s Church on the Farm – a worshipping community in Tottenham’s Broadwater Farm. In this podcast, Keith explains how the church provides support to the estate’s residents – which sometimes means helping parents buy school shoes for their children. He says the church’s presence on the estate “is a real signpost that Jesus is actually there caring for people”.