Today marks the first anniversary of the 2019 General Synod motion to have a loving, worshipping, serving Christian community on every significant social housing estate in the country. To mark the occasion, the Church of England’s daily prayer is for both those living on estates and those who serve God on them.
Almost 30 million people live in the 20% of Church of England parishes that have 500 or more social housing homes within them and have been called ‘estate parishes’. Half of ‘estate’ parishes currently have no Church of England Worship centre on, or immediately adjacent, to the social housing.
The Church of England’s Estates Evangelism Task Group (EETG) was formed in 2016 to renew the Church on social housing estates in both words and service. Inspired by the Nazarene Manifesto (Luke 4) – “I have come to proclaim good news to the poor” – the group, comprising estate practitioners and representatives of the National Church Institutions, works with the belief that the renewal of the Church will come from the margins and from the nation’s poorest and most forgotten people.
Commenting, The Right Reverend Philip North, Bishop of Burnley, who chairs the EETG said:
"Many were delighted when the Synod voted so decisively for a motion to recover church life on our urban estates, and there has been a great deal of progress in the past twelve months. Particularly exciting have been some of the new church plants on our outer estates and I am always inspired by the faith of those who lead them. However we have a massive way to go, and it will take real sacrifice and tricky decisions on behalf the whole church if our goal is to be realised.
"Without prayer this would be impossible. With prayer we can do anything! So I hope that people will get praying on Saturday and then spring from their knees to ask, ‘How can we be Church for the Poor?"
The EETG works with diocesan leadership teams and para-church partner organisations, especially the National Estates Churches Network (NECN), to support those who are already working in estate contexts and to encourage planting and re-planting of worshipping communities and raising/training indigenous leaders.
The Estates Evangelism Task Group recognises the power of prayer and has recently joined in partnership with the Neighbourhood Prayer Network that aims for each of the 260,000 streets in the UK to be prayed for regularly.
Carl Brettle, CEO of Neighbourhood Prayer Network, said:
“Neighbourhood Prayer Network is passionate about seeing every street in the UK prayed for, whether that be in the urban or rural.
“To mark the first anniversary of the Church of England General Synod motion commending ministry on estates, we are delighted to champion the Day of Prayer for Estates this Saturday.
“We are believing together as a network for every street to be transformed and delighted to see the Church of England leading this project to do that! We want you to pray for the difficult people in your community - that's where real change happens.”
The Day of Prayer for England’s social housing estates will take place on 22 February, and is part of the Church of England’s ambitious Renewal and Reform programme of work, which seeks to provide a narrative of hope to the Church of England in the 21st century.
- 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
- Find out more about the Church of England’s work in social housing estates at churchofengland.org/estates.