National Estates Church Network conference summary

The National Estates Church Network (NECN) annual conference focused on developing leadership on urban estates. Our Project Development Worker Dr Naomi Maynard has written a summary of the conference with links to the online presentations.

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National Estates Church Network Conference 1st July 2020

NECN Director Andy Delmege, delivered the keynote address. Andy is stepping down from this position at the end of July to take up his new role as Canon Missioner at Birmingham Cathedral.

The remaining presentations were given by Helen Shannon (London Estates courses), Steve Summers (URC), Ricky Sandiford (Participants on Birmingham Learning pathway) and M:Power (Blackburn diocese).

The conference videos are available on the NECN YouTube channel, with timestamps on where to find particular presentations in the summary below.

Main conference video:

Panel discussion:

Revd Canon Andy Delmege – Director of NECN

Find the presentation: from 11 minutes – 29 minutes

Why do we need to have Local Leadership as a priority in our churches?

  • It has not often featured in our churches: the Black Lives Matter movement reminds us of the “cultural whitenessness and racism of so many of our churches”. “Churches are often middle class and suburban in outlook” – there is class bias and discrimination in some leadership selection processes. Andy says “we need to escape the middle class captivity of the church and make it look like a place where all people can belong and everyone feel genuinely at home”
  • Everyone is created in the image of God – the Christian journey is about discovering, recovering and uncovering that image, we all bare the image of the Creator. Jesus had particular compassion for those who are neglected, those on the edges.

How can people on our estate churches live life abundantly?

In urban estates people often have difficult relationships with formal education, stable jobs disappearing, unions have withered – the church may be the only place where people are supported to grow.

Not everyone is called to be a leader in a church, but everyone should be fulfilled and stretched and growing to discover their part in the body of Christ, and be able to fulfil their God-given calling.

“If the Church fails to see this it is failing God and failings God’s children.”

Andy explains that we are beginning to see that the local leadership pilots featured in today’s conference are working. They are a different form of training, not second class.

“The Holy Spirit is at work here, there is a move to life”

A Challenge to the Church

NECN are not arguing that we should only have local leaders on urban estates, but is arguing there is a clear need to prioritise local leaders.

NECN are not saying that if you are on an urban estate you should only do urban estates specific training, the traditional academic pathways should also be open to you.

NECN are issuing a challenge to the Church:

“Every estate church in the country needs to have a culture where people expect to grow and develop, make sure yours does! This is often slow work but it is vital. God does not just call the middle class and we need to do a proper job”

Revd Helen Shannon– London Estates Course

Find the presentation: from 32 minutes - 44 minutes

The vision in London is for a worshipping community on every estate – this vision needs returners, incomers and remainers. It needs local leaders.

This presentation explores the values being nurtured through the course and outlines the structure of the London Estates course.

The London Estates course is an 18 month course that meets once a month on a Saturday morning (it is currently meeting online). It is a practical course centred on worship, sharing and food. Participants have learning mentors, supporting them through the course. During the course they are supported to grow in confidence in leadership.

The vision of the London Estates course is for each course participant to know:

  1. They are called and commissioned by God – and that calling is recognised by the Church
  2. They are made in God’s Image
  3. God has called us all to share in His ministry
  4. God has got good work specifically for each course participant to do
  5. The Church needs local leaders
  6. The Church should reflect everyone (all classes, backgrounds, race, rich and poor)
  7. There are no forgotten places and no forgotten people to Jesus

The London NECN conference is on Thursday 8th October. The conference will focus on leadership from a BAME perspective

URC: Church Related Community Work

Find the presentation: from 45 minutes to 1 hour 2 minutes

Church Related Community Work (CRCW) use the principles of community development to respond to and challenge the issues facing their particular neighbourhoods and communities and work alongside a wide range of individuals, groups and organisations, developing initiatives and projects to transform individuals, churches and communities.

CRCW workers support local leaders to develop their leadership skills.

The slides from the presentation are available here:

Ricky Sandiford – Lay leader, on learning pathways Birmingham diocese

Find the presentation: from 1 hour 3 minutes to 1 hour 8 minutes

Rick is a Mission Apprentice in Birmingham Diocese. He is a member of the learning pathway in Birmingham diocese that began in September 2019.

Ricky speaks of the challenge of imposter syndrome – being lay and not from a university background.

Ricky praises the learning pathway, acknowledging the support of the group, and it being a safe space to share frustrations and challenges. The learning pathway has validated the lay ministry and helped him understand God’s call.

M: Power, Diocese of Blackburn

Find the presentation: from 1 hour 8 minutes to 1 hour 23 minutes

M: Power is an established local leadership course in the Diocese of Blackburn.

During this video the course participants, stakeholders and those attending a Pop Up church share about their experiences of M:Power.

YouTube Panel discussion

Panel discussion including contributions from Andy Delmege, Ricky Sandiford, Lynne Cullens, Rob McGibbon, Steve Summers, Helen Shannon.

Questions during this discussion included:

  • How as estate churches do we help people have the confidence to be local leaders?
  • How is COVID raising up local leaders?
  • Why have we needed to develop separate training for urban estates rather than it being the responsibility of existing theological institutions to improve access?