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Tuesday, 14 November 2017

HeartEdge update - events & articles

HeartEdge, the growing ecumenical network of churches initiated by St Martin-in-the-Fields, is attracting increasing interest as we take our introductory event around Great Britain.

Our West Midlands regional event was held at St Martin in the Bullring on 11 October with 60+ participants. Feedback included: ‘Each element gave me food for thought and made me reflect and inspired.’ ‘A thought provoking, inspiring day.’ ‘Very well paced, well structured.’

Our South West Regional event was held at St Michael’s Church Centre Stoke Gifford on 8 November with 70+ participants. Feedback included: ‘This day was a great investment and blessing.’ ‘My mind is spinning with challenge, brilliant!’ ‘Firestarter.’ ‘A wonderful day and thought-provoking, poignant, going back to my church to see if it’s possible to join HeartEdge.’

Here is some of the twitter comment on our South West event:
  • IC and @NewRootsOnline in Bristol for @HeartEdge_ started with great cakes so looks promising
  • The singular benefactor model can “shrink the imagination of the congregation...” We’re doing #heartedge in #Bristol #WestCountry
  • “The Benefactor model and the Stewardship model have things going for them - but neither are working...”
  • Commercial and cultural activity as alternative to benefactor and stewardship. The story of Vivaldi - composer, violinist, priest and entrepreneur... “Use the weight of the world to grow our mission, not shrink!”
  • Every enterprise is a social enterprise because each enterprise has to decide where to invest it’s profits - dividends to investors or social concern
  • “”Everything I do is small - and that’s OK...” @bee_rachael on keeping things simple and clear. “The Spirit is bigger than me... it’s a little bit of faithfulness...
  • We call our Asset Based Community Development day Redcliffe Treasures Day...” 
  • @naomibmiller from #Bristol #Cathedral “All kind of partners are important. Key thing is to know your eccentricity and find the right fit. #Church has a key role nurturing community partnerships... invite people in to take part!” 
  • "New connections made. Insights from Sam Wells, both inspiring and liberating - a clarion call to a new confidence in sharing Fullness of Joy with our world .....!"
Our next event is at GreyFriars Kirk in Edinburgh on Tuesday 21 November. 'At the Heart. On the Edge.' is a day hosted by Revd Dr Richard Frazer, Minister of Greyfriars Kirk, and Revd Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, which includes theology, ideas, solutions and support, with a programme developed jointly by Greyfriars Kirk and St Martin’s.

The event will explore mission and ministry in relation to:
  • Congregation – Liturgy and worship for day-to-day communal life – gathered and local
  • Commerce – Starting and sustaining distinctive enterprise to generate finance for your church
  • Compassion – Growing participation and volunteering to address social need locally
  • Culture – Using art, music and performance to reimagine the Christian narrative in your context
Rt Revd Dr Derek Browning, Moderator, General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has said:

'Every now and again a venture comes along that captures the imagination, and speaks to some of the needs of our day. ‘At the Heart, On the Edge’ is one such venture.

How do we reach out with compassion to those on the edges of faith and life, and what do we learn from them when we get alongside them? What does our faith and our experience of life challenge us to explore and to share? How do we take our faith and put it into practice so that it might make a difference for good? Pope Francis has said that this work is not merely for institutions and leaders, it is for all of us, a move from ‘organised religion’, to ‘organising religion.’

“Along this path, popular movements play an essential role, not only by making demands and lodging protests, but even more basically by being creative. You are social poets; creators of work, builders of housing, producers of food, above all for people left behind by the world market…The future of humanity does not lie in the hands of great leaders, the great powers and the elites. It is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and their ability to organise. It is in their hands, which can guide with humility and conviction this process of change. I am with you.”

I am delighted not only to support this event but also to encourage as many as possible to attend. Here we might find another model to enable the authentic action and voice of Jesus to be seen and heard through our network of parishes, groups and organisations across the country.'

The following day I will be speaking on HeartEdge at a seminar organised by Churches Together in Southgate, Oakwood and Cockfosters - Wednesday 22nd November 8pm at Southgate Methodist Church. In my talk I will draw on examples from my own ministry and case studies from HeartEdge members to highlight work being carried out by churches in their communities to inspire work in Southgate, Oakwood and Cockfosters. 

This seminar is an opportunity to ask 'what are the needs of our community, in our part of north London? How can we work together as churches to address issues of poverty, loneliness and exclusion? All who are interested in the role of churches in the community and anyone with ideas on how churches can support our community are most welcome to join us.'

At Greenbelt I contributed to a session entitled 'Cathedrals and commerce: The challenge facing large churches'. This was in The Exchange, a new venue for 2017 that provided the opportunity over the weekend to think together about enterprise for the common good. I was part of a panel chaired by Cliff Mills which explored the reality that large churches are getting involved in enterprise activity to stay open and asked how we can find the right way through commerce and cathedrals. I talked about these questions in relation to HeartEdge, together with The Very Revd John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry Cathedral, Alison Inglis-Jones from the Trussell Trust, and Jonny Gordon-Farleigh from Stir to Action.

Stir to Action have kindly published a post about HeartEdge on their blog. In this post I say that:

'In common with Stir to Action’s Unlocking the Next Economy initiative, HeartEdge is interested in finding new ways for churches to engage with their local communities while also creating revenues to help them survive. That’s because St Martin-in-the-Fields, which has initiated HeartEdge (a growing ecumenical network of churches and other organisations in the UK and beyond), has developed a model for its ministry that sees diverse congregations involved in commerce, culture and compassionate community activities.'

Recently in the Baptist Times, Andy Goodliff explained why Bell Vue Baptist Church in Southend has joined HeartEdge. Andy says:

'HeartEdge asks what are the obvious and hidden assets we have as churches, and how might they be used in ministries of culture, commerce and compassion that shape the church’s life and mission, so that they do not become just things we do, but become part of we are.

Many churches are engaged in compassion ministries - foodbanks, night shelters - but few of us are really taking seriously the opportunities to do mission through culture and through commerce. And our compassion ministries tend to be the kind where we do things for people, rather than seeing them as gift to us.

This word gift is important. Instead of seeing the deficits in our church life, the vision of HeartEdge challenges you to see the assets, those often unrecognised or not fully appreciated gifts, which can become something more in the kingdom of God.'


Ricky Ross - Bethlehem's Gate.

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