Churches that Change Communities 2021
While the pace of the vaccine roll-out and the Government’s road map may have given many of us hope for the future, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, especially for the poorest in our nation. At the 11th annual Jubilee+ Churches that Change Communities conference, we began exploring what comes next. With many of our churches already at the forefront of social action and justice in our communities, what will we do if the needs around us rise significantly? How will we support those who were already in poverty and those who have been plunged into it by the economic impact of the pandemic?
New CEO Natalie Williams and the Message Trust’s Sam Ward delivered the keynote messages, which took place in person and were live-streamed to online delegates.
God delights to show mercy (micah 7:18)
Natalie draws on her own testimony of the transformative power of Jesus, as she asks... is change really possible, and does God delight in bringing it about?
Natalie Williams grew up in relative poverty in the deprived seaside town of Hastings. She has been involved with Jubilee+ for over 10 years, and recently took over from founder Martin Charlesworth as chief executive. Natalie is co-author of the three Jubilee+ books about poverty in the UK, including A Call to Act (2020), and has a book on class issues in the church coming out next year. She is passionate about churches being places of overflowing mercy, especially for the most vulnerable.
Faithfulness and fruitfulness (psalm 37:3-5)
What is the secret of keeping going year after year? Sam suggests that the answer rests ultimately in God’s faithfulness, rather than our own.
Director of Ministry, The Message Trust
Sam Ward is the Director of Ministry at The Message Trust, overseeing creative mission and community transformation across the UK and beyond. He has been involved in the Eden Network for over 20 years, initially as a volunteer and subsequently leading the team and a local church plant in the deprived neighbourhood of Openshaw where he continues to live with his family. He speaks at many national events about his passion for urban mission and the reality of living it out. We are delighted Sam is our guest keynote speaker this year.
POVERTY AND THE PROPHETIC
What is the role of the prophetic in social action? How do we hear what God is saying, and do what he says? God speaks to his people and so we can expect to be shaped by the prophetic, and to see the prophetic unlock situations in the lives of the people we're helping.
Rob leads the team at Jubilee Church in Solihull and is passionate about pursuing the presence of God and helping others to do the same.
Increasingly Rob is helping other churches to develop leaders and laying prophetic foundations.
Rob is married to Alison and they have two adult children and love holidaying together in France and eating a good curry.
BRINGING PRAYER INTO YOUR PROJECTS
Matt led us in looking at some innovative ways to pray for projects and people, and included opportunities for delegates to try out and apply the principles and ideas shared.
Matt Wilson is on the leadership team at The Connection Church, Northwich (a church that exists to honour God, love people and produce disciples that produce disciples). Matt is also part of the core team of Prayer Storm, a movement of worship and intercession which equips the church in prayer and fasting and gathers people together for a great awakening in the art of intercession.
Matt previously worked at the Message Trust (an evangelistic youth movement led by OBE Andy Hawthorne based in Manchester) as a Graphic Designer and Illustrator.
He has been married for ten years to his wonderful wife Beth, and has two daughters, Isabella and Jola.
EXPECTING SUPERNATURAL POWER IN OUR PROJECTS
When Jesus met people during his ministry, his love for them motivated him to meet their practical needs. His love for them also moved him to bring supernatural breakthroughs to their physical/spiritual/mental needs. How can we increasingly expect to see God's power flow through us as we serve those most in need? Without him we can do nothing, but with him anything is possible!
Wendy is based in Bedford where she leads her own ministry called Wendy Mann Equip. She is passionate about churches being family and full of the presence of God. She also loves seeing believers equipped to extend God's Kingdom wherever they have influence. Wendy is part of the King's Arms church. She enjoys good coffee, walks with friends by the river and being an aunty and a godmum.
OFFERING HOPE AND SALVATION
We have more to offer to people in crisis than anything the world can give. Angela encouraged us to step out in trusting God to provide and intervene miraculously, and see people's eyes opened to the reality of Jesus; and to believe for people coming to faith.
Angela is originally from Cape Town where she helped pioneer multi cultural church during the time of Apartheid. She is passionate about the Church and the advance of the Kingdom wherever she goes and enjoys equipping others to do all God has prepared for them to do.
BLESSING AND INFLUENCING THE COMMUNITY AROUND YOU
How do we as a local church build a real connection with the local community and have a voice to speak into the issues that affect our town? That was the first question that Ben asked when he joined the leadership team at his church in Lowestoft and took on the responsibility for developing their Community Outreach work. During his seminar, Ben outlined the journey that they have been on as a church in attempting to answer that question; what has gone well, what could have gone better and how they want to develop in the future.
Ben is part of the leadership team of Lowestoft Community Church (Suffolk) and splits his time between developing the Community Outreach work of the church and working as a Physiotherapist in the local NHS. He is married to Mel and has the privilege of being a birth/adoptive father to 3 children. For fun he loves to watch and play sports, but isn't sure whether his lifelong support of Portsmouth FC has always been that fun!
RAISING LEADERS FROM THE MARGINS, UNEARTHING THE TALENTS
During her seminar, Rosie shared personal stories and illustrations from her experience to talk about the importance of seeing leaders raised from the margins. Based on Jesus’ parable of the talents, she identified challenges, and shared principles and practice on how to raise leaders from the margins.
Rosie Hopley is founder and former CEO of the charity Beloved, co founder of a social enterprise LoveWell, co founder of Bristol prayer gathering Vision for the Vulnerable. She is passionate about gospel transformation, development of people and seeing those overlooked in society take their place as loved, dignified and flourishing individuals, and stepping into leadership.
She loves writing, hosting and learning about God’s reconciling love. Prior to Beloved, she ran her own communications, PR and research business, mainly working with government bodies, NHS and private healthcare organisations, and Universities.
STRATEGIC PREPARATION FOR GREATER NEED POST-PANDEMIC
Many of us having been working flat-out in social action for a long time. We stepped up even more during the pandemic, but it's anticipated that the lives of the poorest will get harder in the coming months and years. How can we go beyond what we're already doing? The key is not working harder, but being strategic. During this seminar Natalie offered some practical thoughts on how to plan for greater need in our communities.
Natalie Williams grew up in relative poverty in the deprived seaside town of Hastings. She became a Christian at 15, which changed her life completely. Natalie has been involved with Jubilee+ for over 10 years, and recently took over from founder Martin Charlesworth as Jubilee+ chief executive. Natalie is co-author of the three Jubilee+ books about poverty in the UK, including A Call to Act (2020), and has a book on class issues in the church coming out next year. She is passionate about the church being a place of overflowing mercy, especially for the most vulnerable.
STANDING WITH THE SUFERING IN POST-PANDEMIC BRITAIN, BISHOP PHILIP NORTH
Bishop Philip addressed the question of how we can continue, and grow, in crossing the lines of inequality and expressing solidarity with those who suffer in post-pandemic Britain.
Philip North is Bishop of Burnley in the Diocese of Blackburn. He began ministry in the Diocese of Durham, serving outer estates Parishes in Sunderland and Hartlepool, and then spent six years ministering to pilgrims to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham as Priest Administrator. He returned to parochial ministry as Team Rector of the Parish of Old St Pancras, serving a large area of North-west London around Camden Town, and was consecrated Bishop and moved to Lancashire in February 2015. He has a strong interest in issues around poverty and social justice and in the vitality of the urban church and is Chair of the Church of England’s Renewal and Reform Estates Evangelism group. He is a member of the Company of Mission Priests, a dispersed community who live to a rule in order to focus their lives on the mission of the church, especially amongst the poor.
HELPING YOUR CHURCH TO HAVE GOD'S HEART FOR PEOPLE IN POVERTY, MARTIN CHARLESWORTH
It is one thing to ‘do social action’ but it is another thing altogether for a whole church to embrace God’s heart for those in poverty, to engage relationally with those whom they seek to help, and to share the life of faith with them. This seminar helped leaders forge a way forward.
Martin is married to Jane and has three adult daughters and a growing number of grandchildren. Martin led Barnabas Community Church in Shrewsbury for twenty years where he developed its focus on social action. He founded Jubilee+ in 2011 and led the team until 2021. He is co-author, with Natalie Williams, of ‘The Myth of the Undeserving Poor, ‘A Church for the Poor’ and ‘A Call to Act’. Martin is also involved in leadership training. His pastimes include travel, various sports and his wider family. He still actively supports the work of Jubilee+ as a board member.
VALUING DIVERSITY AND BREAKING DOWN DIVISIONS, RAJ SAHA
Raj shared his personal experience of the journey he has been on, being part of and now leading a diverse church. He shared stories of challenges, successes and joys; and principles and keys to both becoming and sustaining a healthy diverse church.
Raj Saha was raised in a Hindu, immigrant family of Indian descent in one of the most deprived parts of the UK. In the midst of tragedy, depression, and bereavement Raj found a family again in the Church at Jubilee Church Teesside which he now leads and describes as a ‘Multicoloured Church’. Raj is a local GP who has worked with deprived and hard to reach populations. He is married to Charlotte with 3 mixed-race beautiful kids.
Over the years Jubilee Church Teesside has become multi-ethnic with 30-40% of its worshipers coming from other nations and languages. With diversity very much at its heart, the church aims to be a home from which its family members are sent out ‘Bringing the Joy and Good News of Jesus to Everyone Everywhere!’ It is also affiliated with large social engagement projects aiming to bring Kingdom transformation to communities of need as well as breaking down social, religious, economic and cultural barriers (hope-foundation.org.uk and opendoornortheast.com).
CHANGING CHURCH FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE, CHRIS FROST
Why should you and your church care about climate change? Why is it a justice issue? And what can you do to play your part? Chris and church member John Davy explored these questions, as well as giving practical examples of how they have changed their church in light of climate justice.
Chris has been based at Gateway church, Leeds for 20 years, which God is growing into a large, ‘all-sorts’ family, that impacts their community and the nations. Following work in television and marketing, Chris went full time for the church in 2008 and now leads the team. Chris serves other churches with teaching and training in a wider context as a part of the ChristCentral churches apostolic team and the Ekklesia conference team. Married to Jo with two kids, he has an MA in Mission and is currently undertaking an MSc at the University of Leeds in Senior Leadership.
DISCIPLESHIP FOR EVERYONE, PAUL BROWN & JIM HARPER
Discipleship is not a quick fix, but is about the long-haul. Some of our discipleship models are difficult to access for some of those who come to Jesus through our projects. Paul and Simon explored ways in which we can disciple people from all walks of life.
Paul is married to Denise, they have five adult children and at the last count 14 grandchildren. He has served on the staff team of City Hope Church in Bermondsey, London for twenty-seven years having previously worked as a bricklayer. His claim to fame is playing a vicar in a movie starring Ray Winstone! He has a passion to connect with his community and make Jesus known to all, whatever their background. Paul has an interest in art; enjoys watching boxing and football and having a pint with his mates.
EMPOWERING THE JOB CREATORS, CHRIS PAGE & MICHELLE SAFO
In the post-Covid world into which we're emerging there is hardly a greater time in our lifetimes for us to use our influence to empower the job makers in our midst. Unemployment is rising in the UK, and it can be utterly demoralising. In this seminar, we discovered a little more about God’s heart for business, heard stories of how he used it for his purposes, and discussed some practical steps we can all take to inspire job creation.
Chris Page & Michelle Safo
Chris has been following Jesus for 30 years and God has given him a heart for helping the poor through business. He is a start-up entrepreneur, has trained as a business coach and is passionate about helping believers start up their own businesses and discovering with them what business with God looks like.
Chris met his wife Rosie during the covid pandemic and got married in June this year. He loves walking his dog each day and playing underwater hockey.
Michelle Safo is the founder of a business aimed at helping micro businesses, particularly young women, to scale up their business. Dedicated to raising the aspirations of young people, Michelle also leads a church youth project focused on transforming the lives of young people and is a Prince’s Trust mentor.
Chris and Michelle are part of Relational Mission’s Business Link team.
EQUIPPING PEOPLE TO GET BACK ON THEIR FEET, STEVE WHITTINGTON
Steve shared his heart and vision for empowering people who have experienced brokenness, and shared stories of individuals, projects, and church planting in deprived communities. He focused on how to help people rebuild their own lives, in the context of the challenges of post-pandemic Britain.
Steve Whittington formally led Jubilee Church Hull but is on the move to Birmingham. An amazing but spiritually needy city, with less than 4% regularly attending any church, and less than 1.5% attending an Evangelical Bible teaching church. He has a vision to see many churches planted across the City, particularly in areas where there is little church presence and are in areas of deprivation. Steve and his wife Jo have previously helped plant three churches and have a passion to come alongside the most vulnerable.
Churches that Change Communities 2022
Saturday 12 November, Milton Keynes
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