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HeartEdge Mailer | January 2019

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

Each month we collect and email stories, web links, news related to our 4C focus: commercial activity, congregations, cultural engagement and compassion. Useful, inspiring, practical - it's a resource. Sign up below to make sure you don't miss one.

This month:

  • Church gardens, allotments, growing food & eating together
  • Video art, video installations & church buildings as art gallery
  • Hymns, liturgy & bible studies on migrant & refugee themes
  • Church run book clubs and poetry groups
  • Doug Gay on the lectionary, preaching and prophetic empathy 


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

“The project evolved since local people discussed what the area needed to help make food growing fun for individuals, community groups and families…” Some churches have a corner of land which might work as a garden or allotment. We like the sound of St Luke’s in Southend-on-Sea and their allotment project here. And Time Valley South Churches here.

“Church grounds don’t say ‘keep out’ but sometimes that’s the feeling! We wanted to make it much more [obvious] that you can come in. What we grow we expect the community to harvest... There are signs saying ‘pick me when I’m ripe, water me when I look dry’ so children on their way home from school pick up the watering can but also might pick things when they are ripe…” We love this by HeartEdge friend John Hughes here. The Telegraph look at a range of church related food growing projects here. Spring is coming!

Running a food bank? 'Dignity in Food' asks how community food initiatives – food banks, community meals - grow dignity? The focus is supporting everyone in taking part to feel, a sense of control, able to take part in community life, nourished and supported and involved in decision-making valued and able to contribute. Ideas here.

Is there an alternative to food banks? “People feel embarrassed to use them and, longer term, a food bank is not sustainable.” Food Aid say, “we estimate that, across the UK, there are at least 2,000 independent food aid providers operating in addition to a total of at least 2,038 food banks.” Food pantry here is one alternative. Re:Store in Northampton here may be another. Are you running an alternative to food banks? Tell us!

Hospitality? St Aidens in Leeds run cook up a Sunday-lunch meals take place every six to eight weeks, feeding, on average, 60-70 people.  Tasty lunches are prepared by the team made up of volunteers from the Friends of St Aidan’s and Bankside Primary school. More here.

“The way we treat the poor in this country is a political act…” Faith and Politics? The answer is Beth and Will who present their monthly Faith and Politics podcast – this edition includes insight on asylum claims, hostile climate and waiting, updates on campaigns and interview with Conservative MP Michael Tomlinson – listen here.

Linked to the Poverty and Truth Commission in Leeds, the Guardian commissioned 'True Vision' and campaigning film director Anna Hall to tell the story. The result is an essential 25 minute film showing a group of women in Leeds fighting poverty - with the church helping out. Worth watching with others and talking about the issues together - here.

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Church as a community business? Some commentators are seeing a new direction of travel for churches. HeartEdge promotes a shift in church beyond the defunct 'Benefactor' model. Commerce is a way forward. Read about good stories and inspired ideas in recent Guardian and Telegraph pieces here and here.  

Need to develop a fundraising strategy for the church building? The Institute of Fundraisers have a lively website stacked with resources - start here.

The School for Social Enterprise website is stuffed with resources and ideas to run a social business - have a look here about how to get that idea started. Running a social enterprise is tough. We loved these top tips for support and staying motivated here.

Using your church building as an art gallery? There are more examples to inspire you here. We love this example from Amsterdam. Here are ideas on how to get your idea for a church building based art gallery started.

“The Bible is very honest about what it means to be human and as a result it tells the stories of a number of different people movements…” The Baptists have produced bible studies and reflections for your congregation - exploring themes around immigration. Have a  look here

Sometimes we could say, “What is God up to in this, and how could we learn from this and see the goodness already operative?” Like cycling? Laura Everett on urban cycling spirituality and church work here. Laura also co-presents an excellent podcast 'Can These Bones' - details here

“It is time to challenge the hostile environment and promote a more hospitable environment…” Hostile or hospitality? The excellent Baptist, Methodist and URC Joint Public Issues Team have produced a bundle of resources for your congregation - all here.

“Globally, 68.5 million people are refugees, internally displaced or seeking asylum. Over half of the world’s refugees come from South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria…”  This is another great resource by the Joint Public Issues Team, this time about refugees - here.

Engage at the heart of a community? Richard Frazer of HeartEdge members Greyfriars Church takes a pew, to explore ideas. Watch here. Buy his book about pilgrimage and the Santiago de Compostela here

“Emily is an elderly woman living between the past and the present. She journeys into an inner world, reliving moments from her life. She searches for a connection within her vivid, but fragmented memories.” A beautiful animation exploring ageing, change and memory here.
New music and songs sung at church meetings? Try contemporary hymn-writer Carolyn Winfrey Gillette who may have one to help. A mix of up-to-date lyrics with a focus on justice themes, set to familiar tunes.  “When we Watch the Rescue” here is on immigration. Read more here.

HeartEdge members Watling Valley Partnership are an inspiring ecumenical collective of Methodist and Anglican churches. They build on a long established backdrop of ecumenical work in Milton Keynes, pooling resources - have a look here for one approach worth copying elsewhere. We think ecumenical approaches to being church nourish community and strengthen mission. Got examples? Let us know here

Book clubs have become hugely popular. Your local book club may need a home the church can provide. Or maybe there's an appetite to start one up where you are? Where do you start? Try here for details on how to run a book club. `Or here for detail on 'reading groups'. This site here offers 10 questions to help you on your way. Finally, Penguin offer tips on starting a 'Parent and child' book club here. Worth a go? Let us know if you're starting up a book club - and how it all goes.

Sales of poetry are up - and so are poetry clubs. Learn how to set up a poetry club here. The rise of poetry clubs and possibilities for churches reminds us of projects set up across 20th century America - including the infamous 'Poetry Project' at St Marks Church in the Bowery, NYC. It's an inspiring story with church at the heart plus lots to learn from for today - have a look here.

Use video art in your church services or gatherings? Try this. This short animation captures the world in a nutshell… As the visuals hurtle through there is a smidge of adult content, so maybe not for all. Do you use video as a visual wall paper in church? 'The Place Where' is a visual poem by Tim Sessler here

Art, slowness, stillness, silence and sacrament - HeartEdge's own Jonathan Evens on video artist Bill Viola and the art of contemplation here.

"If we can look closely at the art of our ancestors, perhaps we will be able to reconnect with something vital that we have lost." We don't normally plug telly (we're a global network and not everyone can access the same channels) however, if you're UK based or able to watch BBC iPlayer, do seek out artist Anthony Gormley on the origins of art here.

"Open minds and hearts, inclusive from the start, here come the young!" A new album from Welsh singer songwriter Martyn Jospeh includes excellent title track 'Here Come the Young'. We the love the ideas in this song, and its challenge to communities and the church - have a look here.

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

commercial activity, 
congregational development,
cultural engagement 
and compassion.

Join in, here!

We're very pleased to welcome the following new founding members:

HeartEdge church and organisational membership has topped 60 - we are working on a directory and a website to help us connect up, share ideas and find support. More details soon. Interested in joining? More here.


  • 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 members, £10 non-members. 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 to members and £10 non-members. Register - here. For more information, contact Georgie Illingworth here.
  • Beach Hut Advent Calendar Workshop: St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, Tuesday 19 March  2-4:30pm: Learn about 264 art installations by beach hut owners, professional artists, schools, churches and other community groups, communicating advent themes on Brighton and Hove seafront in December plus other versions across the UK and overseas - with HeartEdge members Martin Poole, of St Luke’s Prestonville, Brighton, and Jonathan Evens. Free to members, £10 non-members. Book here.

SAVE THE DATE: 2-3 October 2019

  • HeartEdge Annual Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland. 
  • Details and early bird booking - coming soon.


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


Last Word: Preach & Prophetic Empathy
The idea of ‘knowing the times’ has always been an important one for me writes Doug Gay. It’s one I explore every year with preaching students at the University of Glasgow and it’s a key theme in my wee book on preaching, God Be In My Mouth. When I am talking about this to lectionary preachers, I often urge people to, in the case of this year, ‘give us a C’. By that I mean to encourage those who preach to view each year as a chance to be reunited with a series of texts we have not seen for three years. In an exceptionally long preaching ministry, we might go through the lectionary cycle up to 20 times, but for most of us it will be much less. Assuming we resist the temptation to always default to the gospel reading and the temptation to believe we can preach on all of the texts in one sermon – and I do encourage students to resist those, preachers will have new choices about which text to focus on when year C comes around again.

Preaching stages the prophetic ordinary. It carries the particularity of the prophetic in the way it poses the question of what to say to these people, in this place, at this time. That particularity also shapes our reading of the lectionary texts, which may well read very differently for us in 2019 than they did in 2016 when we last preached them. To take just one example, public consciousness around Brexit feels very different as we head towards the Article 50 deadline than it did when we were last reading the year C texts early in 2016!

One of the powerful things about HeartEdge as a UK wide network, is that it stretches us beyond the locus of our churches as Churches of Wales or Ireland or Scotland or England. It moves us beyond a single denominational identity to reflect on being in a network which includes Baptists and Methodists as well as Anglicans and Presbyterians. In January 2016, I was leading a church weekend for a Presbyterian congregation in Belfast. In my preparation, I was very aware of the distinctiveness of their context and my own lack of knowledge of it. But as we worked through the prophet Jeremiah together, Word and Spirit, Scripture and Context were alive in ways which were deeply moving and challenging.

In this year C, in 2019, as we seek to ‘find the year’ with prophetic discernment in our preaching and in our aspiring to what Ann Morisy powerfully calls ‘apt liturgy’, we should be aware that ‘Brexit feelings’ have been very different in Scotland than in England, different in London than in Stoke on Trent, different in Belfast than they have been in Cardiff. Oliver O’Donovan says that ‘to see ourselves as a people is a work of moral imagination’. In Year C, this will be hard and unpredictable and troubling work. God be in our mouths and in our speaking!

Doug Gay is a Church of Scotland minister and Lecturer in Practical Theology at the University of Glasgow. His books include 'God Be in my Mouth: 40 Ways to Grow as a Preacher', published in 2018 and available here. Doug is a contributor at the Hamilton HeartEdge Day here


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

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