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.January 2020

HeartEdge is an international ecumenical movement

This month:

  • Kelly Brown Douglas on befriending the outcast. St Isidore Episcopal church on food pantries, plus 'how to' set up a 'Soft Play' project.
  • Walter Brueggemann and Kenyatta Gilbert on economics and Marilyn Robinson on Trump and the battle for good and evil.
  • Sarah Cave and Rupert Loydell on poetry, Plus Barbara Glasson on inter-faith, and politics and preaching with Doug Gay.
  • Plus Lucy Winkett writes on looking back, making plans and avoiding the dead eye in the 2020s.

"A smorgasbord of ideas,
focused around HeartEdge 4C's."

"'Pop Up Cuppa' has always been about relationships – facilitating relationships within the community... developing great relationships between the schools and church." Lots to be inspired or borrow from Birmingham based Pop Up Cuppa here. Maybe transferrable to your place?

A parish nurse is medically trained and fully up to speed with the nuances of the health care system. 40 Parish Nursing Schemes work in housing estate contexts in various ecumenical settings across the UK.  "You will see that we can have an amazing impact on individuals, churches and communities..." Details here about the work of Parish Nurses and their impact on communities and congregation. Here's the start-up pack. 

"God didn't just move me..." Post Grenfell Tower fire disaster and one member of a Cornwall church helped the whole county to build a link with the Grenfell community. "In Cornwall, besides the charity’s tiny core team, over 1500 have been involved from businesses, to schools and churches, hosts to volunteers or the ever-busy Whatsapp prayer groups. We’ve all had different roles but we’re all part of that beautiful circle.”  Esmee Page tells the story here. 'Cornwall Hugs' here. Fabulous film here.

Preaching politics? "Remember, whenever church folk are faced with a vote, or a political choice, there are bidden and forbidden motivations for disciples of Jesus Christ and these should be preached with passion and clarity." Helpful piece by Doug Gay on politics and preaching "It is sometimes a mark of faithfulness, if not to tell people from the pulpit who to vote for, to call for people to vote against something." Preaching politics, theology and tactics here.

"The Kingdom of God means a new economic arrangement – the Kingdom at hand? He means reinvest in the new economy…" Great questions and responses in this conversation between Walter Brueggemann and Kenyatta Gilbert - well worth a watch here.

How do churches respond to need? Local work by C-of-E churches is the focus for research linked to Goldsmiths University of London. Learn more about taking part here. Christianity, politics and poverty is the focus for research by Coventry University. Learn more here.

"Our values are offensive generosity, creating experiences around the table that feed the body and nourish the soul and transform the person..." According to St Isidore Episcopal church opening a new food pantry is church. More here and inspiration and ideas here.

"Where do you find this? 
Always something useful, every month. 
It's become essential for our team." 

Soft-play resource in church? St John the Baptist in Penzance, Cornwall, UK, have developed their building here, attracting communities from nearby. 'Soft Play' something to explore for your church? Where do you start? These excellent 'how to' guides for setting up a Soft Play project here and here. (Interested in doing this? Let us know so that we can find ways to support).

Collaboration is key. A social business means working with other organisations and collaboration. But how to start? "There are other organisations in Edinburgh doing great work around recycling. So, we don’t try to do recycling, because they already do it really well. We collaborate with them when there’s need, and our activities complement each other’s. We can find cost savings through sharing resources too…” Insight on enterprise and practical collaboration from The School for Social Enterprise, here.

Collaboration 2: "We learned that while people may be finding a community in group fitness, they already have a chosen community and don't need an alternative." TryTank Experimental Lab, work across the US supporting experimental congregations and gatherings - we love this. Reflecting on a year of learning - some great learning here.

“Simply selling the property and moving was one survival strategy, but… being faithful with their resources meant responding to the way’s life had become systematically difficult for their neighbour’s.” Church buildings present challenge and opportunity to build community - cue practical story here

'We want to develop the church building - but don't know where to start!' Pages of practical, detailed resources here.

"You can now see inside". How welcoming is your church building? Glass front doors make a difference, help with building body language - more open and transparent. How to install glass doors in your church? C-of-E London Diocese have tips, here.

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From graveyard to quiet garden? St Pol de Leon - a rural church near Mousehole in Cornwall - have adapted a graveyard to create an inspiring quiet garden. There's a film about the shift, here.

Places of pilgrimage? St Pol de Leon reminded us of the the 'Small Pilgrim Places Network' here.  "Some describe them as holy or sacred. Celts sometimes described them as ‘thin’ places, others as liminal – ‘in-between’ ‘thresholds’ on the edge of mystery."  Lots of thin places to visit. All a bit rural? "Many thin places are wild, untamed, but cities can also be surprisingly thin." We like this piece in the New York Times here - where 'thin' turns up in urban too

Church and politics? "Donald Trump has told more than 16,000 lies or misleading statements since his inauguration, yet continues to bask in the lavish praise of Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell Jr., and other evangelical leaders." Writing in Sojourners on the close proximity of the evangelical church to the Trump administration, US Episcopal priest Randall Balmer states followers of Jesus need to find alternatives to the term 'evangelical'. Read here. Are European churches influenced by far-right politics? No - says the LSE here. Talk of a 'Christian Right' in the UK is exaggerated say Theos here

Race, gender, class, sexuality - and civil partnerships - a barrier to God's blessing? No way. Kelly Brown Douglas, talks about Jesus: "It matters that he consistently affirmed, empowered, and befriended those who were the outcast, marginalized, oppressed, and rejected of his day—such as Samaritans and women..." Read this brief, excellent piece here.

Want a Lent resources for your radically welcoming church? A taster here - and more here from Inclusive Church.

New Year - new challenges? "Prophets... are people who shine a light on the signs of our times, speak the often hidden or uncomfortable truths, and call people to live faithful, obedient lives with and for God in the face of all of that." New Year, new government (in the UK) and huge challenges ahead. Rural vicar John Davies on John Wesley and new promises for a New Year in his note, "We cannot know what's coming - but we can approach it faithfully..." here.

“Faith is... all-sorts of Christians talking to all-sorts of Muslims and all sorts of people with no faith at all, all sorts of muddled up thinking around the edge of that. Muslims talking to all sorts of Christians.” Bookended by banter, you'll find an inspiring interview with Methodist President Barbara Glasson on interfaith ‘weaving women’s wisdom’ and mission - here. Details on the inspiring 'Weaving Women’s Wisdom’ developed by Touchstone here.

We are about
catalysing Kingdom communities,
We focus on developing 4Cs:

commercial activity, 
congregational development,
cultural engagement 
and compassion.

Join here!

"It would be wonderful if we could stand together even on that shared place of admitting we are blind to so much. Our questions, not any answers we think we have, will lead us deeper into the truth – even when we claim to know it already." Jonathan Evens interviews acclaimed installation artist and painter Betty Spackman here.

"We’ve come an awful long way in two thousand years with this particular story... it’s only forty years since The Life of Brian upset Malcolm Muggeridge and the Archbishop of York. I find Michael Palin’s visible pain at being told the film is irreligious during that debate very identifiable. For me, a sense of irreverence is its own reverie." Sarah Cave and Rupert Loydell on poetry, Mary, aliens and enunciation here.

"We are on our way to learning how our politics live in our civilisation... how we understand our problems and what resources we bring to mitigate them . if we subscribe to decline as an interpretation of our problem our democracy will indeed fail..." Multiple award-winning novelist - author of Gilead - Marilynne Robinson talks powerfully here on good and evil in Trump's America - and interviewed in the URC's excellent Reform magazine here. "Religion – like everything else in human experience that is grounded in conscience, reflection, compassion, decision, and in traditions of culture and learning and of art – is an anomaly if and when the complexity and value of the individual mind is denied." Watch out for her new novel 'Jack', out in October 2020.

Graham Maule: If you're familiar with songs by the Iona community, you'll know the work of artist, musician and hymn writer, Graham Maule who died after a short illness in December. "Maule’s created environments were both holy and deeply political. This was the case both in its democratic intent and in the fact that it couldn’t be monetised and sold off to the highest bidder.". Read his obituary in the Herald here. The beautifully crafted liturgy and eulogies for Graham's funeral service reflect his imagination and the Iona community - have a look here. A recording made by the Iona Community is here.

HeartEdge is a movement 
focused on renewal and mission.
Join us 

News and Joining

HeartEdge are hiring - we have an exciting 6-month research and development project, that might be just right for you. Interested? Details plus the application pack here.

We love joinerin-erers. Here are some recent joiners:
- St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Hollywood
- St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Eagle Rock
- Balham Community Church, London
- Telos at Southminster - Southminster Presbyterian, Nashville
- St Paul's, Marylebone, London
- Campsie Parish Church, Lennoxtown, Glasgow
- Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church, Anchorage
- Doopsgezinde-Remonstrantse Gemeente Hoorn
- St Mark's Church, Pennington, Lymington

Join here

  • Greyfriars church, Edinburgh are 400 years young! At that age you'll be celebrating and they are. Visit here for details from their minister Richard Frazer and a year long programme of celebrations.
  • 1st February, Deepening Spirituality day, London Centre for Spiritual Direction. Experience different approaches to deepening the spirituality of congregations and individuals. With Nigel Rooms, Partnership for Missional Church UK, CMS; Richard Carter, Associate Vicar for Mission, St Martin-in-the-Fields; Julie Dunstan, Director for Formation and Professional Development, London Centre for Spiritual Direction (LCSD). Antonia Lynn, Community Warden and Referrals Coordinator, LCSD.  £10. Book here
  • 11th February, Urban Spirituality: Looking at living out your faith in a city: 7:30-9:30pm St Thomas Derby. Do Christians need to retreat to country to find God? Explore living out your Christian faith in a city environment with Simon Cartwright and the St Thomas' community. Book here.
  • 12 February, 10:00 – 3:30pm, East of England HeartEdge Day, St Peter Mancroft: Exploring mission, sharing ideas, uncovering solutions and finding support, this is an ecumenical day with Sam Wells and guests. Book here
  • 19 March, 2.00-4.30pm ‘Inspired to Follow: Art & the Bible Story’ Mission Model workshop, , St Martin-in-the-Fields. 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: Exploring mission, sharing ideas, uncovering solutions and finding support, this is an ecumenical day with Sam Wells and guests. Book here.
  • 29 April. West Cornwall HeartEdge Day: Details to follow!
  • May 18 - 20 San Antonio - Texas. Faith+Finance: Reimagining God’s Economy is a new gathering with a bias for action. We are bringing together pastors and impact investors, theologians and social entrepreneurs to respond with courage and imagination to the most urgent and demanding economic, social, environmental, and spiritual challenges of our day.
  • 19 May, 10.00am – 3.30pm, Wessex 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.
  • 21 -22 September - London: HeartEdge Annual Gathering - an exciting smorgasbord of theology, ideas and 'how-to' plus curry, catching up, sharing stories and making connections. Make a weekend of it - from Sunday evening's Nazareth Community gathering to Wednesday visiting projects. Save the date - more details next time.

Last Word: Avoiding the dead eye
Lucy Winkett on looking back, making plans and avoiding the dead eye as we enter the 20s:
    I cracked the rather lame joke myself in a sermon; that the beginning of 2020 needed a bit of thinking through, because it wasn’t only a new year but a new decade. And we still haven’t resolved really what to call the last one.  The Teens or the Tens were suggested – although some were a bit more creative – ‘the Ten-sions’ or the ‘Austeriteens’. The new decade seems more inviting: I’m rather thrilled to be living through the 20s, which I had only ever previously associated with the 1920 photographs of my grandmother, flapper dress and pulled down hat, cigarette in a holder, looking as if she were ‘roaring’ through them all by herself. 

A decade is an artificial measure – there’s nothing particularly prescient about the passing through 9 into 10 – but it can be a useful tool for reflection, if you think back to 2009, going into 2010 and what the world was like, what the church was up to, and where you as an individual found your place in either, it can be a sobering thought. 

It’s notoriously difficult to, as the Biblical phrase goes ‘read the signs of the times’.  Especially the ones we happen to be living through at the time.  And  the truth is that we won’t know the meaning of this decade until years later. It’s said of the 1960s that those who remember that decade clearly weren’t there. And the BBC drama 'The Trial of Christine Keeler' has been incredibly instructive not only in its historical education but in its highlighting of contemporary MeToo resonances.   But perhaps meaning is only really possible to see in retrospect.  It’s like the wonderful Hebrew proverb that pictures us living life as if rowing in a boat on the ocean. The future we can’t see because we’re travelling into it even though it’s behind us. What we can see is what has just gone before – and we learn to interpret it only over time, as the horizon changes.  

In the last decade, our society has witnessed, yet again, a period of huge change; not least because of the financial crash of 2008-9 which set up the next decade as one of coping with recovery. The last decade has featured a reassessment of the internet, realising its dangers as well as its benefits, and a deeper debate about human identity, climate change, inequality, and the effects of globalisation on indigenous populations who felt, and voted, as those who had been ‘left behind’.   

At the end of that decade, our society is facing challenges we don’t seem to feel equipped to meet: the crisis in the social care system; the reality that many people who have a job, or two jobs or three jobs,  still can’t make ends meet. And not least the beginning of the healing of divisions over the UK’s referendum decision to leave the European Union.  There are serious questions to be asked about attitudes towards ethnicity and race, there are deep divisions among us with regard to identity politics. And as a global community, we can’t seem to face, well at least not together,  the challenge of climate change. 

The church, like any group, like any of us as individuals, faced with what look like insurmountable challenges can indulge in displacement activity; tackling the obvious things, maybe more concrete things – because the really big things are just too hard.  When we place all our trust in the plans, schemes and programmes we have made ourselves, we find that they are as dead-eyed as the statues made by the crowd so criticised by Moses in the desert. 

And there is no way for a Christian community to become clear sighted without committing itself to prayer – every day for some, most weeks for others - to return to the source of life in Christ – and like Jeremiah, pray in the knowledge that everything – all the tragedy, joy, confusion, hubris, kindness, fury and violence – all of it – is held in the clear sighted gaze of God; the only one who sees us and everything as it really is. 

Writer and broadcaster Lucy Winkett is
Rector of St James's Piccadilly, London, UK
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HeartEdge · St Martin-in-the-Fields · Trafalgar Square · London, WC2N 4JH · United Kingdom

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