#35 | February 2020
- We are people, organisations and churches growing compassionate response to need, cultural & commercial activity & congregational life.
- We are about sharing, connecting, growing support & developing, finding new ways of being at the heart on the edge.
- Join in here.
- Hannah Malcolm on climate grief, Rosa Lee Harden on social business, Mark Vernon on silence, Richard Carter on community.
- Achieving Zero Waste and the Circular Economy Accelerator.
- 'Just Mercy' & racial justice stories in the US / UK.
- Setting up an Escape Room, a Café or Pop-Up Pub - and Coffin Club!
- Plus pilgrimage, finding silence in a noisy world, Mia Pohlman on Mary and Carla Grosch-Miller on Wrestling the Word, Gathering up Grace.
"A monthly smorgasbord of ideas, focused around HeartEdge 4C's."
"For the last decade the church congregation has been faithfully praying about how they could use their building to serve their community..." Here's a story about St Martins Methodist Church, Derby, an affordable community café, community garden, plus more here. Part of a 'Looking for Inspiration' page here.
Churches Together have updated their directory of UK funders - have a look for opportunity here.
Managing volunteers is complex. Here is the guide for faith communities and faith inspired projects involved in volunteering - plenty of practical help and support in managing volunteers - have a look here.
"I have reached that tipping point and cannot go back, no matter how much I try to guard myself against future exposure to the relentless cycle of bad news. I live alongside my grief..." An important piece by Hannah Malcolm on climate activism and grief here.
“We all need justice, we all need mercy, and perhaps we all need some measure of unmerited grace”. ‘Just Mercy’ is based on a true story and work of the Equal Justice Initiative. Find the story and people behind it here, and theology of 'Just Mercy' here.
“80% of arrests and citations in Pittsburgh’s public schools were of black students, even though 50% of the school district student population is black. Black teens in Allegheny County are 20 times more likely to be prosecuted as adults compared to white teens…” More here.
For UK perspectives on racism visit here and here. Are you or your church involved in calling out racism? Highlighting practice like 'stop and search' where black people are 10 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people? Let us know.
"Why is it only now, after a private members motion is put forward and an apology requested, is one offered?" A challenging response to the C-of-E response to racism in the church here.
"Where do you find this?
Always something useful, every month..."
"We tend to think about how much money it takes to run a church... The problem is the disconnection between money and faith..." Social entrepreneur and activist Rosa Lee Harden on all things social business, from community newspapers to impact investing and commercial ventures - watch here. Another audio interview here.
"Absolutely everyone is encouraged to come down to Aspire and get involved. We are very much driven by what the community would like from us and projects are evolved around people and their needs... We liked this 'working with' approach here.
Bit of hush-hush, but St Stephen's, Bristol has a Secret Café. "An Independent Cafe ... Secret Cafe offers a wide variety of homemade Spanish cakes and meals in a peaceful and relaxing environment..." We like the idea of an independent café hosted by a church. It's another way of doing commercial. Detail here. Elsewhere in Hotwells, Bristol, Holy Trinity run a café here - we like their 'Hope Bag' project - here and here.
Want to set up a cafe in your church? There are lots of challenges and tricks to work out. This resource by the Baptists in the UK goes through practicalities, legal and financial detail - here.
Stories from our Norwich HeartEdge day - including community shops, Escape Room (from church...) and a Pop-up Pub. The links are here.
Getting the building to work for you: “You don’t always need to apply for funding for the entire project. With detailed information you can pick out costs or groups of costs which fall within the remit of specific funders, perhaps even ones which do not specifically fund churches.” More here.
Ideas of ‘zero waste’ are becoming part of everyday life, so the ‘circular economy’, where everything is used and re-used for as long as possible is potentially useful. In Scotland they're ahead. "Through the Circular Economy Accelerator we aim to inform and inspire you and your business to move towards your own circular business model, while offering support and funding to help you do this..." How can the ideas work for you? Have a look here.
Coffin Club is about changing the final send off. "London now has its very own "Coffin Club" where people can come together to plan their final farewell and even 'try before they buy'." Watch here. Detail here.
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It's Ash Wednesday... "Because we know the gospel declares that none of us are less-than. It reminds us that—always—we are known, wanted, and accepted. And it tells us that resurrection is coming for all of us, including the church that has shaped and wounded so many people..." More here.
Looking for Lent resources? Based on 'Lifelines' by Malcolm Doney and Martin Wroe, have a listen to their two series of short podcasts here.
"How can we respond to such grievious revelations?" Wise insight following news of sexual abuse by L'Arche founder Jean Vanier, here and here.
The problem with noise pollution is that it is a contributor to hearing loss. According to WHO, 360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss, and... the average city dweller has a hearing loss equivalent to 10-20 years older than their actual age. Nick Seaver spent 18 months in the Rocky Mountains with his wife, in full-time silent retreat - he talks about what he did here. Mark Vernon on silence suggests Quakers aside, the church has shouted down its early traditions of silence and quiet meditation - have a read here.
"Silence is a vital element in worship, but one often omitted or difficult to incorporate well. Until a congregation gets comfortable with silence, members of the assembly will be fidgeting or looking around, wondering if the pastor or musician forgot what is coming next in the liturgy..." The Lutheran's are onto something - here. So are the Catholics - here and here.
"I think there are many people searching for that silent place..." Richard Carter on a contemporary rule of life that is life giving, and liberating here. There's more here.
"She reminded me of my need..." Mia Pohlman on a picture of Mary here.
The One Programme is run by the Methodists in England and are all about equipping, empowering, and encouraging young people in their discipleship, vocation and leadership. Loads of opportunities here.
Catalysing Kingdom communities,
we focus on commercial activity, congregational development, cultural
engagement and compassion.
To join visit here!
"Congregation presents examples of how faith groups, faced with unsupportable maintenance costs of their existing buildings, have developed new models of survival through the integration of secular spaces." More here. A revival of interest in all things spiritual? Have a look here.
"One night Max puts on his wolf suit and makes mischief of one kind and another, so his mother calls him 'Wild Thing". Author of "Where the Wild Things Are" Maurice Sendak talking here. '"There's a mystery in there..."
'It was just a kiss’ is an example of blurred boundaries. This is an ambiguous image that contains themes of confession, admitting and atoning. It can be read as a modern confession told to a priest... it could also be related to the story of Christ and Judas with betrayal coming by a kiss!" Our Jonathan Evens interviews Dr Joost Joustra, curator of National Gallery show 'Sin' here.
"How do 50 artists respond to the phrase God is … ?" Lots to find on the Chaiya Art Awards 2020 website. Featured artists plus news here. Also Australia's prestigious Blake Prize on religion and spirituality through art. Hosted by Liverpool City Council since 2016, entries for the 66th Blake Prize are open, closing on 3 April 2020. More here.
"The Bible isn't a blue print its something for you to consistently find things in..." Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a phenomenas with 'Fleabag' and 'Killing Eve' and the new Bond. Here's a great interview full of humour and insight on celibacy, religion, sexual fluidity, and feminism and breast size here. Want Fleabag and theology? "What Fleabag surprisingly also charts is the emergence of a tentative openness towards the divine..." Here
"Symbols have been used since the early Christian church to communicate simple biblical truths..." Check out these visual resources - here.
"The ancient spiritual tradition of walking the Cross came to Jerusalem in the fourth century and came to the west in the Middle Ages. Now it is taking a new shape along religious and secular locations. They open their doors for contemporary video images, soundscapes, photos, installations or sculptures..." Fabulous art Pilgrimage across the Netherlands - Wednesdays to Saturdays into April - here.
Pilgrimage? "It's very simple – we walked from London to Jerusalem – 3,300km, across 11 countries in 147 days, to ask for full equal rights for everybody who calls the Holy Land home. This is the story..." here. Want more? "Storyteller Justin Butcher traces the perils, pratfalls and marvels of the path to Jerusalem. A chronicle of serendipity: happenstances hilarious, infuriating and occasionally numinous or, as pilgrims might say, encounters with the Divine..." Here.
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HeartEdge members St Peters Mancroft in Norwich "are looking to recruit three young people... to create space for God in their lives and in the life of our community and city. We are benefitting hugely from the presence of two participants this year..." Sounds like a good thing - detail here.
It's the people that make a place. We love HeartEdge Joineriner-rers. Joining up is now simple via our website - here. And once you've joined - join in!
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29 February 10am 3pm: HeartEdge Mission Working Party Day NWE, Holy Trinity Brussels, Rue Capitaine Crespel 29 Brussels. Featuring HeartEdge 4Cs – commerce, culture, compassion and congregation – as a model for mission. Plus Great Sacred Music - a 35-minute sequence of words and music with St Martin's Voices Fellows and opportunity to share ideas, identify key challenges and assets for future initiatives. Book here.
29th February 7pm - 8pm: St Martin's Voices concert: Holy Trinity Brussels Rue Capitaine Crespel 29 Brussels. St Martin’s Voices in concert. Book here.
19 March 2pm - 4.30pm ‘Inspired to Follow: Art & the Bible Story’ Mission Model workshop, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London. An opportunity to experience one of the sessions of ‘Inspired to Follow’ and to learn how to make the most of the resource. Free to HeartEdge partners, £10 for others. Book here.
1 April 2020, Liverpool HeartEdge Day: St Nicholas Parish Church, Liverpool. Exploring mission, sharing ideas, uncovering solutions and finding support, this is an ecumenical day with Sam Wells and guests. Lunch and refreshments. Book here.
29 April, Cornwall HeartEdge Day: St Mary's Penzance. Exploring mission, sharing ideas, uncovering solutions and finding support, this is an ecumenical day with Sam Wells and guests. Lunch and refreshments. Book here.
18 - 20 May. Faith + Finance: Reimagining God’s Economy is a new gathering with a bias for action. San Antonio - Texas. Bringing together pastors, impact investors, theologians and social entrepreneurs to respond to the urgent and demanding economic, social, environmental, and spiritual challenges of our day. Book here.
19 May, 10am – 3.30pm, Dorset HeartEdge Day: Christchurch Priory. Exploring mission, sharing ideas, uncovering solutions and finding support, this is an ecumenical day with Sam Wells and guests. Book here.
20 May 3pm - 5pm. Nazareth Community Workshop: St Martin in the Fields. The Nazareth Community was established at St Martin’s in 2018, now with over sixty members. Led by Revd Richard Carter, the workshop looks at the Nazareth Community’s simple way of life; prayer & silence; talk, and how it could be applied in your own contexts. Stay on for 'Bread for the World' at 6.30pm. Book here.
21 - 22 September - London: HeartEdge Annual Gathering - a mix of theology, ideas and 'how-to'. Plus curry, sharing stories and making connections. Make a weekend of it - from Sunday evening's Nazareth Community gathering to Wednesday visiting projects. Save the date. Details and booking next time.
Carla Grosch-Miller shares from her new book, Lifelines: Wrestling the Word, Gathering up Grace.
Last Word: Prayer, praxis, silence, song!
It is the final paragraphs from a fifteen minute performance poem entitled “Word Becomes Flesh” that encapsulates the whole of the Bible, making the argument that God has a mission and God’s method is conversation.
The children of ha’adam wrote down the words, recited them to their children, bound them in a Book… living words dancing on the page, bringing life and hope as clear, cool water does in a barren land. Grasped by a new reality, the church gathered around the Book and the table of the Word made flesh, drenched itself in the water and wind of the Spirit, and set about manifesting God’s love for the world in the flesh and blood, bricks and mortar of their communities.
Fast forward through the centuries’ earnest endeavour, stunning success scarred by pride of power, turbulence of war and gall of dispute, past the power of words to harm and hurt. The time has come for the Word to heal….
All around the world, bands of faithful contemplate a changing landscape. Above the din of commercial clatter and cynical conversation, amidst completing claims of divine imperative, the call to remember is heard. Small groups gather to hear again the Word, to ingest its immensity, to feast on its fire. Fed with the bread of life, bound together by the Way, swept up into the Spirit, they dare to love as God does – self-giving, unconditionally – across the false boundaries of ethnicity and class and gender and sexual orientation and even theological interpretation. Fearful polarisation melts into lively discussion and debate. God has a mission; God’s method is conversation! No question is stupid, no discussion off limits. Hospitality is the rule of the day – and there is room for all! Conservative evangelicals dine with gay progressives, each speaking honestly, from the heart, of faith and the struggle to be faithful. Black and white Christians call each other sister and brother, share their joys and their sorrows, own their common humanity. Young and old swap jokes and music, learn each other’s dance steps. Spirited worship, reflecting diverse theological perspectives and cultural practices, carries the people into the presence of God and sends them back out again to share the good news.
The people become clear words, spoken and lived, of the power of the living God and the possibility of a reconciled human family. They have learned to live with difference, to honour and respect one another, and carry their ministry of reconciliation into a world that is dying to learn. Leaven enlivening the loaf, goodness spreads throughout the land. The hungry are fed; the poor provided with the means to live. Men and women, and children too, lay down arms and take up listening and learning. Communities scheme the fair sharing of the earth’s resources and the protection of the planet. People of all faiths and no faith know they belong to one another and to the earth. Truly, they shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain. Prayer and praxis, silence and song, lead the nations to dance to the universal hymn of praise…and God smiles.
Word becomes flesh,
worlds come into being.
Carla Grosch-Miller was ordained in the United Church of Christ (US) and serves the United Reformed Church. She is a practical theologian, educator and poet, a local church minister and former Chaplain to the Moderator of the General Assembly of the URC. Lifelines: Wrestling the Word, Gathering up Grace by Carla Grosch-Miller, is published by Canterbury Press, and available here
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