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Urban Parishes – Faith in the City

Wednesday 2nd March 2016

The Archbishop of York’s Office at Bishopthorpe Palace yesterday welcomed 76 delegates from most of the dioceses in the Church of England, for an evangelism consultation day focused on urban estate mission across the Church of England.


The Rev Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission & Public Affairs said: “On many urban estates social issues of generational unemployment, related poverty, lack of educational aspiration, all of which are present elsewhere, become magnified.  The greatest thing that the Church can offer is hope.  However we must rise to the challenge of making that hope visible through our actions, our words, and the priorities for the church as a whole.”

In his key note address, the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North spoke about the crisis that faces the church on the outer estates. “A Church that abandons the poor has abandoned God. In order to address this crisis we need to confront the huge gulf between the culture of the Church of England and that of the estates. We need to find ways of developing local leadership and create contextually appropriate resources. We need to think afresh ‘What is the Good News on the estates?' and nail the false dichotomy between service and proclamation. To withdraw from the estates would be an utter catastrophe because it is the poor who recall the Church to its purpose and to the vocation of Christ himself who came to preach good news to the poor.”

Practical examples of effective inner-city and estates ministry included debt advice and budgeting courses, self-help groups as part of parish work, messy church services, detached youth work, community choir groups, film nights, support with refuse collection and sharing faith with different ethnic groups. Churches which engage with their neighbours real needs, hopes, and fears are more likely to connect and enable people to make Christian faith their own. 

The Bishop of Hull, the Rt Revd Alison White said: “Whilst acknowledging the challenges faced by our urban estates, there was a real sense of possibility during our discussions, and everyone left encouraged by stories of transformation that are taking place across the country.  The solution to so many of these issues already exists in the people living on our estates. As a Church we need to learn how to nurture what is already there, remembering that with God, everything is possible!”

Presentations made by Revd Kate Wharton - Everton; Revd Andy Delmege - Birmingham, Revd Jane Winter -Orpington, Revd Abi Thompson – Rotherham, Revd Canon Peter Hapgood-Strickland -  Burnley and Revd Gary Hodgson – Leeds.

To watch the video:

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu was not present at the event as he continues his Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing across the Diocese of York. He is journeying through the Beverley Deanery this week, and next week will be at Hull Central and North.  For opportunities to walk with the Archbishop, to pray with him and to follow and share in his journey, please visit:


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