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#37 | April 2020

HeartEdge is an international ecumenical movement: 

  • Churches and other organisations developing mission. 
  • Focused on commercial activity, congregations, cultural engagement and compassion.
  • Join here. Get the mailer here. Get back issues here.

This month: 

  • Bryony Taylor on tips and tactics for online church, Maggi Dawn on lockdown, Cormac Russell on Covid-19 and community engagement, a benediction from Jane Manfredi and Sherry Maddock on going deeper.
  • Amsterdam on a holistic 'donut' response, the challenge of managing a business in the pandemic with 'Clean for Good'. And phone trees!
  • 'High Profile' interviews including Patti Smith, all the Greenbelt talks since 2001 and Arvo Pärt. Also, three brilliant short films to share. And free cards to share via 'Out-of-the-Box'
  • Plus an extract from Harvey Kwiyani's excellent new book 'Multicultural Kingdom: Ethnic Diversity, Mission and the Church'.

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


"If we all committed to phoning up to 5 people every week, just think how many branches we'd create between us..." Group of local residents and institutions in Shadwell (churches, mosques, community groups) and their fabulous idea to connect with each other via five phone calls. Here are tips on conversations - "regular (weekly is best if possible)". Plus a page of useful links in lock-down. We love the generous vibe to this. (We also love this short film made in isolation capturing some of the complexities of phone calls and social media!) 

"I believe now is precisely the time we need clear and positive messages in our shared spaces – to bring a smile and counter the perpetual bad-news..." This Birmingham Design Festival has great ideas here! Thanks @MicahPurnell for this (and do talk to Manchester, UK-based designer Micah if you've ideas you want to explore!)

"Blessed are the refuse collectors, for they will see God despite the mountains of waste..." Beautiful animation of the popular Dave Walker 'Beatitudes' cartoon - here. One to send around your WhatsApps...

"How best to pivot from an exclusively deficit-based response to the crisis, towards an asset-based community driven approach..." Great question and lots of tactics and tips here... "I propose 11 shifts in narrative and approach..." Cormac Russell on community responses to Covid-19 here. Plus finding local resources 'on tap, not on top' here.

In lockdown how do community organisations keep connected, engaged and listening? Check out the new blog from East London's Centre for Theology and Community here. The piece refer to the excellent resource from Caritas Social Action Network

"We feel lonely and odd because we mistakenly assume that the kind of thoughts and fears we have will have no echo in other people. They do; it’s just we haven’t found a way to speak to one another honestly about who we are..." Short film on loneliness by the School of Life.

"To accompany another is to give companionship against despair, dissonance and desolation..." The gift of the accompaniment is the greatest gift. If you read one thing - great insights from the US.

"Certain forms of help do more harm than good..." An assets approach starts with what's strong in a community. "We need to help people discover what gifts they have and to use those gifts to enrich those around them..." Cormac Russell at TED here.
"The coronavirus will not reverse... an even more desperate future. But it is allowing us to see with our own eyes how ready the natural world stands to reclaim the planet we have trashed, how eagerly and how swiftly it will rebound if we give it a chance..." Margaret Renkl on an environment made more visible.

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

Managing a business in the pandemic? "Our aim is to keep every cleaner on payroll and pay them a full 100% London Living Wage, and also to keep and help every customer, many of whom are also in shock. We have sought a fair approach that shares the current burden between employees, business, customers and taxpayer..." Tough times and great insight from church related business 'Clean for Good' on managing the business during through the pandemic - here.

"Planted Places operates a unique indoor garden on level 1... it's where we propagate indoor plants for distribution and sale..." We want to know more about this innovative Australian social enterprise - part of the work of the Baptist Union of Victoria - and others. Growing plants indoors and selling the produce? Find out more here.

Home working a nightmare? Or are you loving it? Enneagram Types and working from Home... watch here (we laughed!).

"I have not seen a good, sound conversation about NOT restarting our churches. Rather, let us relaunch our congregations. Let us be nimble church plants in gorgeous 150-year old buildings. Let us dream a new church into being, one that is not modeled on the way church was. Rather, on what it could be. What if church services were held on other days than Sundays and thus allow more flexibility for families whose weekends are over-scheduled?" We love the imagination and challenge from US HeartEdge parter TryTank - and this is great reading! Got ideas? Hook up via our website and HeartEdge practitioner page. 

We love this brilliant offer from social business - 'Out of the Box' cards. "We've created four postcard designs that children (or adults) can colour and send to friends and family." Download for free. Then have a look at all they make (and sell) here.

Amsterdam take a lead with a rounded response to the economy... “When suddenly we have to care about climate, health, and jobs and housing and care and communities, is there a framework around that can help us with all of that?... Yes there is, and it is ready to go.” Some intriguing ideas here.

HearEdge is about
catalysing Kingdom communities,
We focus on 4Cs:

commercial activity, 
congregational development,
cultural engagement 
and compassion.

Join here!


"Five tips on preaching for audio only..." Bryony Taylor has an excellent website groaning with ideas helping with the new Covid-19 norms. From creating a podcast for church to the art of WhatsApp audio - and managing Sunday services. All here. Thanks for this Bryony T!

We bang on about this inspired list every few months - because there isn't anything else like it! We're grateful to Maggi Dawn for creating it - here. Talking of lists - Hannah Malcolm has a recommended reading list on Eco theology / Environment and Christianity. All up to the minute resources to track down here

"I congratulate those of you who have written your new novel since lockdown began..." And while you're at Maggi Dawn's website this is a reassuring read...

"I’d do anything to protect you from pain but it’s just not within my power, and that’s the single greatest sadness of motherhood. What I can give you is a benediction; a blessing..." Jayne @TheWomanFredi writes powerfully and movingly on life and blessing.

"This break in the normal proceedings has also provided a welcome opportunity for some ecclesiastical spring cleaning..." You may have caught this sharp snapshot of online church via the Spectator doing the rounds. Also, this from 1843 on upset at the restrictions on funerals a creative response using Zoom - "the whole thing was a lot more moving than I was expecting it to be.” See what you think here.

"There is a force in nature called 'geotropism.' It simply means the movement of plant parts deeper into the earth..." Sherry Maddock of Collins Street Baptist, Melbourne on the challenge to dig deeper, in unfamiliar territory here. We feel this challenge - and love the encouragement to dig deeper!

This resource is for youthworkers working with young people 'bereaved during the Covid 19 crisis.' It's a great resource developed by Church Army here.

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High Profile interviews engage with people who help to shape our world or the way we perceive it. "We want to learn more about their values and beliefs and the experience of life". Originally part of 'Third Way' magazine - their online back catalogue has a host of fascinating interviews including Quaker activist Alastair McIntosh, singer Patti Smith and comedian Ruby Wax. Essential!

"In a way, it is like a 'total fasting' for the whole world..." A brief, rare interview with the Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt here.

"The storm will pass, humankind will survive, most of us will still be alive — but we will inhabit a different world. ..." Anthropologist Yuval Noah Harari on how society must pull together in our changed world. Where do we start? HeartEdge Manchester's Azariah France-Williams has some ideas. "The problem with the battle imagery is that once we have our idolised heroes, everyone else is potentially a villain..." Read more about the opportunity of different language and a new vision - here.

We are sad there is no Greenbelt festival this year but we love their alternative! A global, local digital festival 'Wild at Home'! We hope it's the first of many! Free and full of ideas - details here. See you there!

Plus Greenbelt's archive of festival talks going back to 2001 are all up for you to listen for free! What a gift! To get started find their impossibly rich and eclectic back-catalogue all here!

Chaiya Art Awards are postponed till 2021, but selected 35 plus visual artists to view online on the theme “Where is God in our 21st Century World?’. Another treat here.

An Easter pilgrimage, from Jordan to Jamaica, to find a multiethnic image of Christ, offers important insights here. And a piece from Inclusive Church here.

The Spiritual Exercises is an online exhibition, inviting you to create work on the theme ‘far-off country’, combining real or imaginary places with those you can only visit in your current situation, ie for your daily exercise. Weaving the two together, are there common threads? Work can be made in any medium, be digitally reproducible for online display. To submit work or for further detail visit here, or contact Mark Dean here

Heal The World exhibition is a visual expression by artists about mending the brokenness of our global family, as well as of their desire to repair our world through art itself.  Artwork is submitted through an Open Call to all artists globally at any stage of their careers for two or three-dimensional artwork representing the theme of the online exhibition. Sounds like you? Submissions deadline is 16 May 2020. A panel of judges will select 25 artworks for exhibition to be showcased here on 15 June  - 18 August, 2020. 

Finally! We love these thoughtful, beautiful short films - good to share...

  • 'Just Checking In', friends and family self-distancing from the world here
  • 'If You're Ready', a short story about a mysterious package, coincidence, love and (we thought) hints of the divine here.
  • 'Delivered' - stories of delivery people in New York during lock-down here.

HeartEdge is a movement 
focused on renewal and mission.

Join us here!


It's the people that make a place. We love HeartEdge Joineriner-rers. Joining up is now simple via our website - here

  • Lancashire West Methodist Circuit, UK are here
  • St Mary’s Heworth, UK here and on Twitter here
  • Christ Church Aughton, UK here
  • Holy Trinity Brussels here
  • Parish of Ascension, Port Perry, Ontario, Canada, are here.
Joined? Then join-in. It's all about your story and all you bring. Share ideas and issues on the new HeartEdge Practitioners page and the website. 

Take part in our Wednesday afternoon 16.30 BST 'HeartEdge Practitioners Circle' - "This is my abundance..." "Please will you carry this on each week once the lockdown ends?" "Refreshing!".

Here's our emerging programme of ideas and discussion - all open and easy to join: 
  • 7.30 - 9pm BST Monday: Bible Study - Simon Woodman at Bloomsbury Baptist, London for a Biblical Studies masterclass on New Testament Epistles - Register for free here.
  • 4.30 - 5.30pm BST Tuesday: Preaching Prep - Sally Hitchiner and Sam Wells at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London on lectionary readings - live-streamed on FaceBook here.
  • 4.30 - 6pm BST Wednesdays: HeartEdge Practitioners Circle - stories, ideas and support. Email for a Zoom code here.
  • 6pm BST Sundays: Theology Group - with Sam Wells and Hannah Reed (St Martin's PCC). Open to all - for joining instructions email Ben here.
Want to run an online workshop or series with HeartEdge? Be in touch and let's plan.

The annual HeartEdge gathering returns in September online - with talks and workshops - details next time.
Last Word: Mosaics and the Kingdom!

More than 85% of congregations in the UK are made up of the same race and class. Harvey Kwiyani, in an extract from his new book Multicultural Kingdom finds the joy of the mosaic and the jigsaw in mission and worship:

I usually discuss my missiological writings with my mother. Her name is Hilda, and she lives in Malawi where she has led a congregation for more than 30 years together with my father, Jonathan. I find her to be a great critical sounding board who helps me disentangle some of my thoughts when they become convoluted. Her experience and wisdom have been significantly helpful to me along my journey of thinking about mission in a context that is extremely different from where I grew up.

The first time I brought to her the argument of this book, she was both excited and perplexed. She was excited because she hoped to get some theological insights out of this book to help her shape the multicultural community that she leads in rural Chiradzulu, in southern Malawi. Diversity for her and her community is a social phenomenon that happens naturally with-out any theological intentionality, and she hoped that in this endeavour she could find ways to embed her praxis in solid theological foundations.

Yet she was also perplexed, because to her cultural diversity among Christians is a given. There is no other way to conceive of the ­ekklesia apart from it being a multicultural community of followers of Christ worshipping and serving God wherever they have been scattered around the world. After a few days of careful reflection on the subject of this book, she asked me: ‘What do you mean when you say a multicultural ­kingdom?’ She needed an explanation because as far as she is concerned it does not make sense for one kingdom to have two cultures. The kingdoms that she knows, especially those in southern Africa, have one culture, or something extremely close to one culture. They are established around a set of kingdom-wide values and languages that make it impossible for people to have more than one culture. No sane king would allow a multi­plicity of cultures in his kingdom. A few days after this conversation, my mother called me to correct herself. She had realized that cultural diversity­ among Christians in the world means exactly this – the kingdom of God is elastic enough to hold all cultures of the world. Indeed, the kingdom of God is one in which all nations, tribes and tongues belong. She gave me an example that drove the point home; the United Kingdom is one such kingdom. The English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish live together under one monarchy.

Still, she was bewildered to hear that Christianity here in Europe and North America has not yet figured out how the nations, tribes and tongues can belong together in worship, that the body of Christ in the West is segregated, that even among African Christians in Europe and North America it is almost impossible to have a multicultural church. She could not understand that in the West, generally speaking, black ­Christians ­worship with fellow black Christians; white Christians worship­ with fellow white Christians; the same goes for Latin American­ and Asian ­Christians. She was taken aback when I told her of the ‘black majority­ churches’ in London (which is a more generous way of describing ­Nigerian congregations, Ghanaian congregations, Congolese congregations, and many others). ‘Why do you have to qualify the nature of a congregation by race, ethnicity or nationality? How can that be?’ she wondered. I told her that both in the United Kingdom and in the United States, more than 85 per cent of all congregations are made up of people of the same race (and usually of the same social status). Suddenly, she remembered some words of Martin Luther King: ‘Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week.’ I said that Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour today, just as it was 50 years ago. She went quiet on the phone for a few moments, and then, in a disappointed motherly tone, she said, ‘Tell your friends, you do not know what you are missing.’

My mother lives in rural Malawi and so her concern for cultural ­diversity is not based on racial segregation – she probably has never had a racist encounter in her adult life (she spent her first 15 years on a ­colonial farm in Zimbabwe). Her immediate context understands cultural diversity in ethnic and tribal terms. (And yes, I use the word ‘tribe’. It is high time we redeemed it from its pejorative colonial baggage. My evangelical friends will be glad to hear that it is also biblical.) Indeed, cultural diversity for most of the world is a tribal or an ethnic phenomenon. I still remember the child in Austria who almost fainted when he saw me because he had never seen a black person before. He could not resist the urge to touch me to see if I was real, and then in utter amazement looked at his hand to see if it was black from my skin. An overwhelming majority of the world’s population never have to deal with significant cross-racial relations.

Yet, my mother’s concern is not even about tribal segregation. People in my home area do not segregate or discriminate neighbours for ages even though they belong to different ethnicities­ and, sometimes, religions. They have shared their lives together for generations – many have intermarried across tribal lines and cannot certainly say what their tribal identity is. They may speak several languages, some of which are not their own tribal languages, and they do this just to be able to communicate­ with their neighbours. My family is a good example. My mother is a Yao by tribe, and is married to a Lhomwe, but neither she nor my father speak their tribal languages well. My siblings and I were raised speaking chiChewa, a tribal language of the Chewa peoples. My mother is aware that in other parts of Malawi, and in other countries in southern Africa, inter-tribal relations are not this cordial. She has there-fore often wondered about the power of the gospel to help tribal and ethnic rivals to reconcile. One day she asked me if I thought we needed to look to theology to find help to stop inter-tribal violence.

In my parents’ church and in the wider region of southern Malawi, Christians from the various tribes worship together several times a week. Worship in the congregations where my parents live happens in a mixture of languages. It is common for people to sing Lhomwe and Yao songs in worship, say their intercession in chiSena or chiTumbuka, and then listen to a sermon in chiChewa. When they sing Yao songs, the accompanying musical instruments and their body movements will mimic Yao music and dance – manganje worship is the best. This is normal – Lhomwe, Sena, Tonga, Nkhonde worship will also be shaped by their cultures. On any Sunday, in one service, people will experience some combination of these cultural expressions of Christianity.

My mother reflected on this beautiful reality for a while. It was one of those things that is there in front of your eyes, but you don’t see it until you are looking. Suddenly, it hit her. She exclaimed, ‘That is the point of the Church, and of Christianity­. I can assure you, there is no other platform in our area where people get to enjoy the best of other cultures as we do in our ­worship. This only ­happens in church.’ When I pressed her to explain how it all works, she said, ‘It is like a jigsaw puzzle. You only see the full image once all the pieces are in place.’ My six-year-old daughter then joined in the conversation: ‘I think you mean a mosaic, Grandma.’ My mother replied, ‘The kingdom of God is like a mosaic. The beauty comes out of each piece being in its right place and contributing its colours – and all the pieces, in their magnificent colours, are needed for the mosaic to be a mosaic.’

This was her concern – the full beauty of the kingdom of God can only be seen when the pieces line up. I realized that this is a very important conversation for Christians in the West to take on board. Our segregated Christianity is an anomaly and it is my sincere hope that we will not export it to the rest of the world like we have other aspects of our Christianity in the past.

Dr Harvey C. Kwiyani is lecturer in African Christianity and Theology at Liverpool Hope University. From Malawi, he has lived in Europe and North America as academic (teaching theology, missions and leadership), and mission practitioner and church planter. 
"Multicultural Kingdom: Ethnic Diversity, Mission and the Church" is available to order at a special discount here.


Thanks for reading.
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Keep safe and keep in touch!

HeartEdge is an initiative of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London. The church has always remained open for the people it serves, even through times of hardship such as the Blitz. Covid-19 has forced us to close our buildings for the first time in our history, but our vital work within the community and beyond simply must continue. To make a donation by telephone to our Emergency Appeal call 03000 33 7000.  Lines are open 8am until 10pm daily. Donate online here.
Small print. HeartEdge is an initiative of St Martin-in-the-Fields.
We are grateful to all our founders.
Also our funders Hymns Ancient and Modern and Allchurches Trust.
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