HeartEdge Mailer | February 2019
HeartEdge is an international ecumenical movement.
- We are churches and other organisations developing mission.
- We focus on 4 areas - commercial activity, congregations, cultural engagement and compassion.
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Each month we collect and email stories, web links, news related to our focus: commercial activity, congregations, cultural engagement and compassion. Useful, inspiring, practical - it's a resource.
- Migrants, asylum seekers and church as hospitality and safe place
- Making good ideas real via CMS and 'Out of the Box' and Birmingham Bike project,
- Churches running cafés and soft play business plus how to curate art in a church building.
- Tips on community storytelling and the conflict in our congregations.
- Laura Everrett on pedal power and prayer, biking around Boston.
"A monthly smorgasbord of ideas,
focused around HeartEdge 4C's."
Church as safe space and sanctuary? “The International Group is there for migrants who are destitute because they are: not entitled to benefits; not receiving benefits; or vulnerable re housing/employment. Additionally, those with accommodation who are, nevertheless, experiencing isolation…” An International Group has a focus on migrants – and may be a way of building relationship and growing a supportive network – more here.
Hospitality? Rivers of Gold in Birmingham is another example. With an emphasis on developing skills and reaching potential, Rivers of Gold "is a team with a vision of seeing refugees, asylum seekers, and newly arrived people living fulfilled lives in the UK." More here.
"Asylum seekers are given just over £35 a week to live on. They are not allowed to work. Having a bike changes everything..." This is great - learn about the Rivers of Gold new Birmingham Bike Project here. (and they are looking for bikes - so if you have a spare, do be in touch).
Concerned about the plight of asylum seekers? This fact-checker, myth buster, includes people, stories and numbers – a great resource by the Refugee Council here.
Women for Refugee Women works directly with women who seek asylum. Detail here. Their campaign has resulted in changes in awareness and understanding – and policy reform - and maybe something for your church to support. "There is now widespread momentum building from the grassroots to the corridors of power to create wider change. The Set Her Free campaign is shaped by women who have been locked up in detention. More here.
Over a million of us have confessed to stealing from the supermarket when using an automatic check-out. Scottish theologian Alastair McIntosh from a 'Thought for the Day" reflects on opportunistic theft and the significance of relationship... "If we use shops, then we're part of them, and normally our duty will not be to steal but to strengthen right relationships." Read on here
"Where do you find this?! Always something useful, every month. It's become essential for our team."
Looking for winning food and drink? URC and Methodist, Christchurch Ilkley won the Ilkley Business award ‘food and drink business of the year’ 2018 for their popular café here. They also run Dan’s Den here – ‘soft play with a warm heart’ which includes a café. We love what this ecumenical church are up to – loads to learn from if you’re looking at establishing food and hospitality or a children’s play business.
Great example of a soft play business include St Saviour’s Nottingham, England, here . In Bankfoot Scotland the softplay project – the Ark is available free for users of their café here. Finally, the Methodists run the Ark soft play here. These are good examples of church businesses.
How to set up a ‘soft play’ centre – a diary notes the highs and lows of setting up the business, “I feel a bit better now. After falling well shot of our targets in weeks 1 and 2, we hit our target on week 3 and had a very encouraging 86 children through the door on Saturday, as well as a party for 10…”Lots of insight and tips here. More help here.
Mothers day is coming up and we love the enterprise behind “Out of the Box” a venture here born out of the CMS / Pickwell Manor ‘Make Good’ programme. Learn more about CMS ‘Make Good’ here
It’s Fairtrade Fortnight - details here, with a focus on cocoa – and chocolate – and a challenge! “Could you bake – or find someone else to bake – delicious Fairtrade chocolate treats to share? Bake-off competitions, coffee and cake events and photos capturing the moment of appreciation are ways we can take this serious and complex problem and make it relevant for our communities. International Women’s Day falls during Fairtrade Fortnight, and Mother’s Day shortly after, so there are great hooks to pin your activities on…” More detail here.
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A storyteller? "Everyone has suffered, everyone has struggled. They see that there is bravery and courage in their neighbours. There’s also humor and graciousness in people. You hear this in the stories." 'The Hearth' is a great resource established by popular US spiritual director and speaker Mark Yaconelli, with a focus on community story telling. "Our experiences are complex, stories tend to be simple. What is the title of the story you want to tell? Giving it a title will help you get to the heart of your story..." Great, helpful, alternative resource with tips for story telling here.
Community storytelling as a community development tool? - there's a good summary here.
Youth and the active pursuit of real life: "For religious communities to aid the spiritual growth of young people... they need to find ways to encourage, bless, train, and support young people in the active pursuit of real life. It is in that pursuit that Go is discovered..." This is a big file to download but check out page 33 and some examples of theology and practice by Mark Yacconelli here.
Jesus Shaped People is a programme and a resource to help churches deepen their presence in communities including 'special priority for those ‘on the edge’, and 'teaching that is story based, principled and visionary'. Growing out of the Holme Wood estate in Bradford this may include resources and approaches useful for you. There's a big explanation here.
The Incomplete Activist is a short film that may be useful to sit and watch with the usual suspects, the weary, exhausted volunteers and activist in your church - or even just you! Touching on what motivates and mobilises activists along with the challenges we face - including our frustration and burn-out - this may be something worth showing to a group and discussing afterwards. Have a watch of this brilliant 5-minute animation here.
Spirituality and conflict is a brief introduction to a dynamic rarely absent from congregations or communities. Presented by Padraig O Tuama this brief little clip includes useful insight and challenges - worth a look here. "The gospel texts are replete with dynamics of conflict: occupation; internal conflicts; about the inclusion of others; about the role of leadership; and the role of popular voices. To be a person of faith, it is worthwhile having a spirituality that addresses how we live while conflict is ongoing..." There is a larger series of short videos forming part of a resource called 'Spirituality of Conflict' here. Maybe something to use with church groups during Lent?
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Church to the moon and back! “Few people have been before, to explore within a sacred space these really big questions we’re faced with… we want to bring the moon to the public and invite them to take their own small step across it. We just want to encourage people to explore possibilities, to reach for the moon and be in that space, and to reflect on what that means for them and for all mankind.” Lichfield Cathedral will be hosting moon walks - sounds preposterous? We love the idea and ambition - detail here and here.
Artworks is a resource making a "significant contribution to many churches, whether as stained glass, paintings, altar frontals, sculpture or another art form. At their best they will aid worship, inspire prayer or help us experience the presence of God." Interested in ambitious new art for a church? This is worth a look here
How do you curate art in a church? Lots of practical ideas here. "His curatorial method involves the writing of a concise brief which he circulates to artists roughly one year prior to the exhibition’s proposed opening date. This year the brief was premised on the decision to present ten events from The Passion... each scene represented by four different artists..." A good example here.
‘Reconciliation’ is a group show by commission4mission artists in the Chapel of Christ the Servant at Coventry Cathedral (1 Hill Top, Coventry CV1 5AB) from 10 March – 12 April 2019. Artists involved have reflected broadly on the theme responding with imagery from various forms of embrace, through pardoning and connections to aspects of the Life of Christ including Annunciation, Crucifixion and Glorification. Contemporary issues addressed include conflicts in the Middle East and plastic pollution. There is a great use of the building attracting lots of interest.
Collaborate? How about working with a local art college to access space for exhibiting art? Worth exploring? Since 2011, the Swiss Church in London and the Curating programme at Goldsmiths have partnered running a yearly competition for first year contemporary art students. Students submit a proposal for a curatorial project using the space for one-two weeks, and winner delivering the project in February / March. All coordinated in collaboration with the Swiss Church team who view and assess each proposal. It's a great example of collaboration that generates new interest and audiences for the church. More here.
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Last Word: Faith in the Saddle
12 March 'Moving Stories, Migrant God' with Indejit Bhogal - part of a two year project of the London District of the Methodist Church. The purpose is to change the narrative of fear and suspicion of migrants, to one of celebration and recognition of the contribution migrants have made to London, and to Methodism. Lectures form part of the culmination of this project. In the light of the current political discourse, the need for Christians to articulate positive stories of migration is an urgent one. Details here.
11 April 'Deepening Spirituality - Explore approaches to deepening the spirituality of congregations including accompanied prayer, art, Godly Play, lay communities, open door retreats, spiritual direction, and more. An opportunity for personal refreshment also. The day is being running in partnership between members of the team from London Centre for Spiritual Direction and HeartEdge members. Contributors include, Neil Evans, Director of Ministry, Diocese of London, Alison Christian, Advisor and Advocate for Spiritual Direction, Richard Carter, Associate Vicar for Mission, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Julie Dunstan, Director for Formation and Professional Development, LCSD and Antonia Lynn, Community Warden and Referrals Coordinator, LCSD. Book in here.
11 June 'Newcastle HeartEdge Day' with Sam Wells and guests. A unique programme of theological reflection and local contributors. HeartEdge days focus around our HeartEdge 4 Cs with an emphasis on practical insight and ideas to take away. Full details to be announced - don't miss out, we get great feedback about these events. Book in here.
In an extract from her book 'Holy Spokes', Laura Everrett writes about how the daily habit of cycling impacts on our view of community: Staying in the saddle takes intentionality. Cyclists choose this acceptable amount of pain over the ease of a car or a bus.
We make the decision to keep our butts in the saddle, to stay put. Some Christian monastic communities also make an intentional decision to stay put. In addition to their vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity, they make “vows of stability.” Monks and nuns in the Benedictine tradition pledge stability to a particular community, a particular place, sometimes a city.
A city is, almost by definition, a place of flux. People come and people go, out of choice and out of necessity. During my twenties in Boston, I seemed to move every two years. I didn’t really start to feel connected to the city until I lived in one neighborhood for five years. It’s hard to build “thick” neighborly relationships when you’re moving all the time. To live here responsibly and faithfully invites a vow of stability.
If you look at it closely, the city will break your heart. But you’ve got to stay in the saddle long enough to see it.
When I cycle through all of Boston, not just the “good” parts where the tourists visit or the bike paths guide, the collective pain of our city becomes visible. Because I’ve been riding these roads for so long, my eyes have become familiar with my city’s grief.
My temptation is to choose the clear paths that avoid the blatant displays of suffering. My temptation is to take another route to avoid seeing the same man, already drunk by ten A.M., who sits with his backpack and his dirty toupee on the same street corner every day.
By bike, I’m learning to resist my temptation and become more deeply acquainted with my city’s suffering, slowing down enough to see all the small crucifixions on street corners. Lampposts become memorials to the city’s dead, with offerings of teddy bears and candles and liquor bottles.
Roadside memorials fade exponentially from the first day they’re erected. Teddy bears don’t weather well in Boston snow. Grief gets dirtier and more embarrassing, until the offerings to the dead are cleaned up and cleared out late some night.
By bike, it’s easier to see the public pain. Foreclosed homes shutter their former occupants’ dreams inside until they’re bulldozed into the ground. Empty lots bear the claw-marks of bulldozers so that not even empty houses stand in memorial. Photocopied posters of lost dogs and lost humans fade as the winter wind slowly peels away layers of ink and memory.
Even by bike, what is harder to see is the hidden suffering: the invisible damage done to every child in the neighborhood who has learned to recognize the sound of gunshots by the age of three. What is harder to see is the hidden trauma of the sanitation workers who are unwittingly tasked as shrine undertakers, dismantling the decaying roadside memorials late at night. How do we learn to see the hidden suffering of the EMTs who have revived the same addict seven or eight times, and then never see her again? How do we learn to see the hidden suffering of that addict, who has been scuttled away to a shelter on an uninhabited street?
We stay in the saddle.
We stay in the saddle. We become accustomed to the suffering, to build up some wherewithal to keep looking, but not so accustomed that we no longer see. We build up capacity to see the pain, but are not so blinded by it that we can’t keep moving.
To get acquainted with the grief of this city, I’ve biked it for a long time -- for so long now that I see ghosts, ghosts of ghost bikes, those stark white bikes that mark the places where cyclists have been severely injured or killed.
This is the spiritual discipline of the bike: Look. Stay. Do not look away. Do not take a different route. Do not cross to the other side of the road. Accompany your neighbors in their suffering. See as you wish to be seen. This is the urban spiritual discipline of seeing.
Laura Everett is author of 'Holy Spokes: The Search for Urban Spirituality on Two Wheels' available here. A pastor in the United Church of Christ, Laura is the executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches.
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