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HeartEdge Mailer | December 2018 

HeartEdge is an international ecumenical movement of churches and other organisations developing mission focused on commercial activity, congregations, cultural engagement and compassion.

"The church is getting smaller;
and it’s getting narrower.
HeartEdge asks, ‘How do you feel about that?
What are you doing about it?’
We provides ways to turn
convictions into

This month:

  • "If the cafés are open on Christmas Day, then the churches should surely be.  And we should not be celebrating a sort of 'Narnia' Christmas, fantasizing about the good old days, whenever they were. We are celebrating Christmas this year in a world at war, full of uncertainty, inequality and injustice." Lucy Winkett on being open for Christmas.
  • Plus - a Christmas group work resource, a look at community meals, and the Library of Things
  • Also - Henri Nouwen, 'Spirit Level' authors Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett on social status, Simon Sinek on power dynamics, 2019 trends and Chine McDonald on identity politics.

"A monthly smorgasbord of ideas, inspiration and
resource focused around HeartEdge 4 C's."

"It’s a conversation about abundance, about possibility, it’s no longer a conversation about blame… it’s about ownership…” Cormac Russell on consumer society, citizens power and UK Asset Based Community Development - a clear insightful explanation here.

“What words are being used? Over the last generation economic words have been rising in frequency… Moral words have been dropping. Gratitude is down 49%, humbleness is down 52%, Kindness is down 56%. We’re talking about this stuff less, and economics more.” Watch this animation - with key learning - on character in the age of the selfie with David Brooks here.

"I feel so deeply about these words. They spill so easily, because they come out of real feelings, during the build up to Christmas. The words spoken were "I hate Christmas." Experienced group worker and Greenbelt 'Rolling Magazine' regular Pip Wilson offers a Christmas story and a group work resource here. "Maybe you can take this and transpose it into your own context?" If you use group work or work with people - you'll find a life time of resources from Pip - have a browse here

Community meals are a form of hospitality. Founding HeartEdge members the Round Chapel United Reform Church in Hackney have been running their monthly community meal, the last Thursday of every month for over twenty years - have a look here. Kickstarted by the congregation the meal is prepared by volunteers from in and out of the church and the meal is open to all.

Community meals or Pot Luck meals in the US are great for bringing people together (this article here is all about how hosting these at home.

Lots to learn from Totnes, Devon, UK community potlucks – there’s an excellent short film all coordinated by volunteers here. The Network of Wellbeing have produced a useful little ‘how to' guide here. There is emphasis on decoration and entertainment as well as venue and catering volunteers, though other meals are simpler.

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From storage, cinema, room hire, exhibitions, craft fairs and festivals to bars, café and workshops - your church venue is ideal for creativity and generating income. There are many ways to programme more arts. The Development Trusts Association in Scotland produce a useful guide on creativity, getting your venue started and how to generate cash. Wherever you are - lots of hints and tips if you're starting out, here.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world..." So, Melanie Glass did. Lots of inspiration and hard work. We're very big fans of Melanie Glass of 'Devenish Girl' Bakery, who recently won the much coveted Birmingham, UK social enterprise of the year award. Learn more here and here

Back in October we noted the effectiveness of crowdfunding - a useful way to launch an idea, generating some pump-priming cash. Want to learn more? This useful Crowdfunding web index – packed with helpful links to lots of useful crowdfunding websites is a good start here.

‘The average drill is used for only 13 minutes in its entire lifetime.’ What if, instead of buying that drill, you could borrow one instead?” People in Frome have established SHARE, an empty shop turned into a Library of Things. Learn more here.

A Library of Things is like a normal library – you sign up as a member and borrow items you need. The Library of Things is spreading - and you can help, or borrow their idea! Learn more here.

HeartEdge is a movement focused on 
developing mission via 4 C's:
commercial activity, congregational development,
cultural engagement and compassion.

Join here!

"He struggled with anxiety, loneliness, restlessness, and depression. What comes through so clearly in this book is how authentically he lived these struggles. Many of his key insights found in his books are lived through these letters." At a busy, and at times bewildering time of year we found wisdom and depth in this piece about Henri Nouwen "...vulnerability and weakness are portals to compassion and community... not to be avoided but attended to with courage and directness. It is only by accepting our own fragility that we can care for the fragility in others." More here.

“Worries and insecurities about self-worth get right to the centre of social life… Worries about self-presentation that male social meetings extremely stressful. Social contact can become an ordeal. Bigging yourself up becomes more common in unequal society…” Insight from 'Spirit Level' authors Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett on social status, Louis Vuitton bin-bags and meetings - here

“If you’re the head-honcho it’s hard to get the truth of how we’re coming across because nobody tells us…” Sharp 3-minute clip from Simon Sinek on power dynamics in your team, and how to create an environment where people feel safe to give honest, critical, feedback. We liked the practical game – a way to help each other work together and grow! Worth a look Then give a go? Here.

We love this story about HeartEdge members St Peter-in-the-Forest, Walthamstow, recently a large grant from Heritage Lottery. Learn more here.

Church does radical hospitality... "By giving hospitality to this family, we could give them time and place to [demonstrate] to the secretary of state the … urgency of their situation..." Imagination, bravery, lots of rev's  and a great story about a dutch church holding non-stop services to prevent officials arresting Armenian refugees - here.

Looking for guidance on supporting resettled refugees? This toolkit offers "materials to support your group when you resettle a family in your community, drawn from the experience of Refugee Action." Find the Toolkit here.

"The Church has a special responsibility to be peacemakers and rebuilders of broken walls..." Chine McDonald on racism and speaking out from 2016 remains even more prescient. "Christians must see it as a priority now to demonstrate solidarity with those who are fearful about the future and their place in Britain." More here. Her excellent podcast interview from 2018 is here.

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NESTA is an innovation foundation who produce their annual analysis of trends and breakthroughs. Wherever you are, these are worth a moment, and 2019 insights are  here. One in particular – ‘it’s the end of the week as we know it.’ – on how the working week is stretching into 44 hours. Implications and ideas here.

"The world with everything in it is God’s creation... all of life is ‘Christian’ and may concern Christian artists, whether they portray the beauty of a bird in the sky or the outrage of a refugee having to live without the comfort of a place she can call her home." ArtWay, stimulates reflection on the role of images in church. Our own Jonathan Evens learns more from Editor in Chief Marleen Henglaar-Rookmaaker, here

Jonathan recently interviewed new Glasgow Boy Scottish artist Peter Howson, here. You can read his visual mediation on migration here and recent HeartEdge talk here

"He will come like last leaf's fall..." Take a moment to be with 'Advent Calendar - a poem and a prayer here. More from Rowan Williams here… 

Welcome to new HeartEdge founding members:

  • St Mary and St John Cowley, Oxford - here
  • St Peter & St Paul with St Michael & All Angels, Kettering - here  

Something to plug? 
News to share,
stories to tell, 
Be in touch.
We'll share it


  • Hamilton HeartEdge Day: Scotland, Wednesday 6 February 10am - 3.30pm. Hosted by Joanne Hood  and Sam Wells. A day including theology, ideas, solutions and support for re-imagining Church. A bespoke programme including Ian Barcroft, Ross Blackman, Liz Crumlish, Jonathan Evens, Doug Gay, Kenneth Johnston, Mark Strange, Georgie Illingworth, George Whyte and Robin Hill. Register for your free ticket - here.
  • 'Inspired to Follow' Workshop: St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, Thursday 14th February, 2pm - 4pm. How to explore the Christian faith in a more visually-focused culture, ‘Inspired to Follow: Art and the Bible Story’ is a resource developed by St Martin-in-the-Fields. Introduction, ideas, origins and 'how to' with Jonathan Evens. Free to HeartEdge members, £10 for others. Register here. For more information contact Jonathan here
  • Nazareth Community Workshop: St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, Wednesday 27th February, 2.30pm - 4pm. The Nazareth Community was established at St Martin-in-the-Fields in March 2018, now with over fifty members, from the congregation and other churches. This workshop led by Revd Richard Carter, is an opportunity to learn about the life of the community, and how it could be applied in your own contexts. With an option to stay for Bread for the World, at 6.30pm- a key component of the community’s worship. Free for HeartEdge members and £10 for others. Register - here. For more information, contact Georgie Illingworth here.

SAVE THE DATE: 2-3 October 2019

  • HeartEdge Annual Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • Details and early bird booking - next time.

HeartEdge is a movement 
focused on developing mission.
oin here!

Last Word: Staying Open for Christmas
Christmas Day in church; writes Lucy Winkett. Sleep-deprived clergy try to keep the Christmas smile alive, despite the service very definitely having about it the feeling of “the morning after the night before”.    Until a few years ago, on Christmas Day itself, we, along with most other church buildings after the morning service, were shut. We had Christmas lunches, for sure – but we had them on other days, so as to fit in with the timetable we assumed was shared. No one wants to be out actually on Christmas Day. They’ll all want to be with their families.   But to be honest, this doesn’t make sense in our own context, in the centre of the city.  

And so after the morning service, we serve, thanks to remarkable volunteers, a full Christmas lunch to all comers. Last year about 100.  From the pair of friends who decided to spend Christmas in a hotel after the death of their wives, to an Italian family, thrilled to find a mass celebrated by a woman, who then stay for the meal.  Jewish and Muslim friends help congregation members to prepare the sprouts and potatoes during the morning, and at 2 o’clock on Christmas Day, I spend time with, let’s call him Mark. He often sleeps in the pews or on the doorstep. And he doesn’t want to go to Crisis at Christmas because it’s “too big”.  I talk to him about his native Zimbabwe.  He tells me he was born in Harare, the capital.  “I’ve never been” I say, “what’s it like?”. I expect him to say something  general about the size or the population or the weather. He looks at me rather grandly as says Harare has an undulating topography!    We laugh, and I remember again that Mark is creative, funny, surprising, very far from home, and deep, deep into his addiction.   Sometimes when I see him asleep, he is curled up like a child. Sometimes I feel that day after day, we are witnessing his slow death. Despite our best efforts, we are watching him die. And on this Christmas Day, he has about him the spirit of Good Friday, and I wish with all my heart that he could choose to live.  On the same Christmas Day afternoon, I dance with Josephine, to a Bob Marley song. She is 80 something, originally from Antigua, who is often articulate and angry about every day racism, who in her ongoing struggles with her own mental health, is a beautiful soul, who turns to Christ every day. She tells me with characteristic giggles, that she has learned a new word and she would like to share it with me. I brace myself as some of Jo’s reflections can be challenging, given her propensity to bake herself hash cookies for lunch.  Pronoia, she triumphantly proclaims: is the persistent conviction that everyone else is conspiring to help you. 

The Christmas declaration that God is with us, teaches me as a Christian how to live politically as well as spiritually as one made in the image of God.  God poured godself into a body, in Jesus, and that body touched other bodies and healed them. That body was also, in the end, tortured and crucified by the state. That body was raised, wounds still visible.  It matters therefore where I put my body, because it matters where God put God’s body. This incarnation therefore inevitably leads the church into political conversations about how we organise ourselves, how we treat each other and where power lies. And for us, it’s then a matter of conviction that the church building is open and feeding whoever comes on Christmas Day itself. Because it is, in its small way, a stand against a privatized spirituality that assumes everyone has a safe family they want to withdraw to at Christmas. It is a small signal that God is not ours, a possession of the church, cradled in the arms of a dwindling few in a cosy institution, made accessible for an hour on a Sunday. God is ungovernable Spirit, unwilling to conform to social expectations,  even of Christmas, secularized as it is. If the cafes are open on Christmas Day, then the churches should surely be.  And we should not be celebrating a sort of “Narnia” Christmas, fantasizing about the good old days, whenever they were. We are celebrating Christmas this year in a world at war, full of uncertainty, inequality and injustice.  And with guides like Mark and Jo, we will learn again this Christmas to lay down our weapons in the search for peace, and dance, even on the front line. 

Lucy Winkett is a writer and broadcaster.
She is rector of St James, Piccadilly, London


Happy Christmas, and a peaceful New Year.
See you in 2019!

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HeartEdge · St Martin-in-the-Fields · Trafalgar Square · London, WC2N 4JH · United Kingdom

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