You are here

Pioneering on estates and new housing developments

Date: 18 July 2017

Time: 10am - 4pm

Venue: Church Mission Society, Watlington Road, Oxford OX4 6BZ

A day conference at the Church Mission Society, in partnership with Methodist Pioneering Pathways, for all those 'being good news' on estates and new housing developments in the UK. This was an opportunity for practitioners to network and share their experience across different denominations and church streams.  

We considered four topics - estate culture, estate power, estate wisdom and estate networks.

We had an impressive list of contributors including Ali Boulton, a Baptist Pioneer, Bart Woodhouse from the Methodist Church, the Rev Helen Shannon (London Diocese in the Church of England), Cathy and John Wheatley of Streetspace, Chris Baker, Chair of William Temple Foundation’s Faith and Flourishing Neighbourhoods Network, representatives from The Lab in Newport and Lynne Cullens from the National Estates Churches Network.

Each contributor spoke for about seven minutes, and then questions raised by their experiences were discussed in small groups.

Conference speakers

Alison Boulton

“I am a Baptist minister. Along with my family and with the support of three couples, I’ve lived incarnationally on a new housing estate for over eight years responding to God’s call to unconditionally bless the community.

“In partnership with Fresh Expressions, Churches Together in England and Baptists Together, I am facilitating a National New Housing Hub with the Rev Penny Marsh. I’m excited by what God is doing in new housing across the UK.” 

Video: Discussing her Grove Book on Pioneer Ministry in New Housing Areas

Story of The Stowe on Fresh Expressions

Bart Woodhouse

Bart is a Venture FX pioneer with the Methodist Church at The Beacon church in a new development at Dartford Bridge.

“I'm currently working on a research paper using the work of Adorno, Eagleton, and Debord to ask questions around the 'commodification of community' and whether we collude with a late capitalist understanding of community, particularly within the missional context of new housing.”

Story of the Beacon on Fresh Expressions

Helen Shannon

Helen and her team planted a church on a North London estate in 2010 called church@five which she still leads today. She is also one of the founding trustees and projects director for Hope North London and is an associate minister at St Barnabas North London. Recently Helen became a Bishop of Islington's Associate helping to plant new worshipping communities on London estates and in September will be partnering with Eden to plant a new worshiping community in their neighbouring estate in East Finchley.

"I'm really looking forward to sharing the story of what God has done here in North London with all its highs and lows."

Cathy and John Wheatley

“We live in Bournville, Weston-super-Mare. We run a youth and community project from our doorstep, meeting children and young people in the parks and on the streets of our estate. We’re part of the StreetSpace Community of Practice that supports us and our work. We are both graduates of the Centre for Youth Ministry. John works for Frontier Youth Trust supporting other pioneer youth workers and has an MA in Pioneer Leadership from the Church Mission Society. Cathy works as a work and wellbeing worker supporting residents in Bournville, and does lots of work with young parents and families that we have met over the years.”

Cathy will present on the tension of cross-cultural mission across class and income lines. In particular the power dynamics of attempting to work alongside and with people. What does it mean to give up power and prestige? How do you self-empty without becoming useless? 

John will present on StreetSpace as a network for pioneer youth workers. In particular the importance and methods of learning from others experience and contexts, building genuine mutual relationships with other practitioners that will sustain, and in embracing diversity within your network to hear off-the-radar voices.

Chris Baker

Professor Chris Baker is William Temple Professor of Religion and Public Life at the University of Chester and director of research for the William Temple Foundation. He is also director of the Centre for Faiths and Public Policy at the University of Chester. He is an experienced researcher and widely-published author in the field of religion, belief and public life, focusing on the relationship between religion, belief and urbanisation, public policy and social welfare, civil society, and the reshaping of ‘church’ within the urban environment. His work explores ideas of the postsecular city and postsecular citizenship, religious and spiritual capital and moral freighting. His work focuses on UK experience, but also contributes to research in Europe, the US and Australia.

Matthew Davis

Matt is a leader of The Lab, Newport, and a pioneer ordinand for the Church in Wales, training with Church Mission Society’s Pioneer Mission Leadership.

He will share his reflections on making things up as you go along and letting the community and the Holy Spirit lead you.

“The Alway Estate is found on the outskirts of the east side of Newport, South Wales. It was built as housing for Steel Workers at Llanwern in the 1970s.

“In 2008 a small group of young adults moved into the old vicarage on the estate with the aim of loving and serving each other and the community.

“I arrived in Alway six years ago and lived in the community house for four years before moving out to live locally just before my daughter was born. I oversee the house and activities where we explore faith with young people and adults.”

Lynne Cullens

"We at the National Estate Churches Network (NECN) were delighted to be invited to take part in the Pioneering on Estates Conference. I'm NECN's vice-chair and also C of E priest-in-charge of the parish covering central and south Crewe. We'll be leading the conference discussion on Estate Networks, explaining more about NECN's ethos and activity and setting out some ways that a network approach can provide both support and a vehicle for sharing. 

“As someone from a working class background and as a single mum I'm also interested in how who we are in ministry touches those around us, perhaps as much as anything we do.

Richard Martin

“I'm a CYM youth and community graduate, studying the MA at Church Mission Society, I work in a children's home in South Bristol and have just started a StreetSpace project in a shop in Filwood (central ward of Knowle West).

“We do values based art and music projects, learn to lead, and a life recovery group for addicts. The core principles are availability, and spiritual development through being with young people and self expression through art and music.

“We try to develop a missional posture of openness and we are exploring how to be vulnerable to the people we meet and allowing the community to be our friends, not just us being their friends.”

Sue Martyr

“I have been employed part time since last August by the Tolladine Mission. The Tolladine Mission is a small missional community rooted in Tolladine, a 1930s social housing estate in Worcester. It is known as an area of high deprivation.

“My remit is to see where God is, and to nurture this. I hope to help build/rekindle relationships, individually and communally this enhancing people's connection with their maker contributing to the Kingdom of God.

“I have lived in the area for 18 years doing basically doing the same as I do now, but in the last year I have moved with my husband into the fomer vicarage which is becoming a valuable resource.

“I am commissioned in the parish as a pioneer missioner mainly for Tolladine. My other job is a Living Well Adviser, which helps people make behavioural changes. I am interested in what motivates people, and how they may move towards being a full human being.”

Penny Stradling

I currently work as a lay pioneer minister for an Anglican church in Fulham, west London. About one-third of our parish is made up of two estates that are scheduled to be redeveloped to make way for lots of luxury flats. This situation has obviously caused huge controversy and my role is to help work out what our response as a church should be. Day to day this looks like lots of youth clubs, community projects, cups of tea with all sorts of people and working to find ways of bringing people together.

“My background is in youth and community work as well as some time in cross cultural mission. I have just finished a post-graduate diploma in pioneer ministry with Church Mission Society.”

Ruth Sayers

“I am a Lay Licensed Pioneer Worker in Devonport, Plymouth. 

“After placements in the Middle East for almost 10 years, I returned to the UK around five years ago. I work in an area that has been the object of redevelopment and now is the home to a new housing estate. The main area for development was the redundant dockyard. 

“The closure of much of the dockyard has created nearly 40 per cent unemployment, so Devonport Work Club was brought into being. We offer to write CV's, help with interviewing skills, signpost to further training and education and job search amongst other services. We also offer tea/coffee and cake and a chat. This often results in some kind of pastoral care and social interaction amongst the members. I plan to share about this on the day and mention some of the other activities that I am involved in. I will also talk about 'being church' in Devonport and what that means in practice.”