Life on the Estates

Oct 9

As part of the Renewal and Reform agenda, the Archbishops’ Estates Evangelism Task Group have been hard at work for the last two years*.  In the coming weeks I will post more about how things are progressing with the “commitment to action“.

Our estates projects are working toward a thriving, growing, loving church on every significant social housing estate in the country – through new patterns of ministry, sharing good practice and encouraging leaders.

I wanted to highlight the recent video that was released.  Unfortunately, most of the publicity came out whist I was on holiday so I am a bit late to the party.  But as they say, better late than never.

*well you would say that Robb, you’re part of it.

After Sanctum 2018

Jul 30

Sanctum held its fourth gathering of Sacramental Alt:Worshippers last week in the iconic if a little sun scorched grounds of the monastery church of The Community of The Resurrection.

What a melting pot for sharing good practice and cultivating ideas it has become. As I looked at the delegates eating lunch on the final day I realised, it wasn’t those of us who organise the conference that were important, it was those who came. A Canadian priest with a new intentional community forming in her rectory sharing experience with a vicar’s husband from a village in Wales. A guy from the USA coming on sabbatical to look at how the UK is blending the ancient traditions of the apostolic faith with the modern – or as Sue Wallace calls it, “Ancient Future Faith”.

Sanctum has grown and evolved in the last four years and begun to flourish. What was a place to come together with friends and talk about our passion for making accessible and creative worship that engages people is now a place to meet new people, new creatives and for new networks to be formed. Sanctum is now a place where fresh minds meet others with the same desire to see people engaging afresh with the Christian faith.

I’ll post about content in a later post when I’ve had chance to look at some of the footage. 

Once in Royal David’s City

Jul 25

We’re at Sanctum talking about music in worship. After a conversation about writing Mary’s Lullaby, Ruth Sutherland mentioned her reworking of Once in Royal David’s City to one of the other delegates. I was going to share it in the Sanctum group and discovered it had slipped through the cracks.

So here it is. A slight rewrite of Once in Royal David’s city to give it a bit more meat.

Once in Royal David’s City

Once in royal David’s city, stood a lowly cattle shed,

Where a mother laid her baby in a manger for His bed.

Mary’s courage brought to birth, Jesus, Saviour of the earth.


He came down to earth from heaven, who is God and Lord of all

And His shelter was a stable and His cradle was a stall

With the poor and mean and lowly, lived on earth our Saviour holy.


For he is the promised Saviour, bringing freedom, love and peace

Comfort for the broken-hearted, ever shall our joys increase!

In the darkness of this night, comes the Everlasting Light.


Not in that poor lowly manger, in a home in Bethlehem

We shall see Him, but in glory, in the new Jerusalem!

When creation is restored, there we’ll dwell with Christ our Lord!

Jesus’ Revolution from the Margins

Jun 22

Some words from The Christ.

Blessings on the poor in spirit! The kingdom of heaven is yours.

Blessings on the mourners! You’re going to be comforted.

Blessings on the meek! You’re going to inherit the earth.

Blessings on people who hunger and thirst for God’s justice! You’re going to be satisfied.

Blessings on the merciful! You’ll receive mercy yourselves.

Blessings on the pure in heart! You will see God.

Blessings on the peacemakers! You’ll be called God’s children.

Blessings on people who are persecuted because of God’s way! The kingdom of heaven belongs to you.

Blessings on you, when people slander you and persecute you, and say all kinds of wicked things about you falsely because of me!  Celebrate and rejoice: there’s a great reward for you in heaven. That’s how they persecuted the prophets who went before you; (Matthew 5:3-12)

The @twurchsteward and I have been listening to Tom Wright’s The Day The Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion as an audiobook and comparing notes.  I say “comparing notes” but in reality we’ve been having lengthy conversations about God’s Kingdom and how we are called as a church to be the “image bearers” of that Kingdom.  We are called to be a church that reflects the Kingdom of God into the world in the here and now.  After all, we daily pray “your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as in Heaven” and that has to mean something.

This morning I catch the (ridiculously!) early train to London to a further meeting of the Archbishop’s Estates Evangelism Task Group.  And as I pack my bag I have the words of Tom Wright ringing in my ears from chapter 10.

The key thing about so many of these “blessings” is that they demonstrate the way in which God’s kingdom will actually be put into operation: through the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the justice-hungry people, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the people who are prepared to face persecution and slander because, of their commitment to the way Jesus is pioneering. Some of these characteristics are more obviously “active” – the justice-hungry people, the merciful, the peacemakers – but the entire package is what matters. God’s sovereign rule will come to birth through people like this. They will learn to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world (5:13-16). They will learn the way of forgiveness and reconciliation (5:21-26), the way of purity (5:27-32), the way of truthfulness (5:33-27). And, in particular, as chapter 5 comes to its climax, they will learn the way of nonviolence, the way of love for enemies and prayer for persecutors (5:38-48). They will turn the other cheek; they will go the second mile; they will allow someone to strip them of both shirt and cloak. And they will thereby demonstrate that they truly are children of their Father in heaven (5:39, 41, 40, 45).’

So often those of us who live and breathe on the estates are viewed as a problem that needs to be fixed.  The outer estates are often seen as a forsaken place to which people can go to bring the good news, money, affluence and a better lifestyle.  Our society has an historic sense of Victorian paternalism in which the haves can stoop down to the level of the have-nots and bestow good things upon them, do good ‘to’ and ‘for’ them rather than with them.  But here in Tom Wright’s vision of Jesus Revolution he is once again insisting that the topsy turvy Kingdom of God does not arrive at the platform we were expecting.  Here he suggests that Jesus is instituting a Kingdom brought about by those very people you’d least expect.  A world renewed from the margins.

If we can recognise this within our midst that is truly revolutionary!

So tomorrow we go once more to pull together as a group embedded in and working with those places on the edge.  We call the wider church not only to invest in those fringe places but to recognise and seek what those places bring to the wider body.  To become a church that nurtures those who live in the forgotten places.  We’re not calling for a fix.  We are calling for the church to have vision to set people free to get involved with the mission God is already on in the places often deemed “too challenging” or worse “unimportant”.

If the Church of England is to play any part in the renewal of Christian life in this nation, it will come from the edges, from the margins, from the forgotten, and from the poor. – Philip North

A Creative’s Lament

Jun 11

Northern Spain in the Sun

I inherited a little bit of money so I am awaiting the delivery of a new camera.  I’ve been into photography for about 12-13 years now.  I have various equipment but I predominantly use a Canon DSLR.  As I sit here I realise that I’m going to have to relearn a lot of what I do.  The buttons will be in different places and it will have a different workflow.  Having an eye for a shot will be the same.  Composition, framing, focus, exposure and depth of field will all be the same, if I can find the buttons to use them on a newer camera.

Workflow is a necessary evil to enable the creative process to happen.  Whether it be a new piece of music gear or a piece of video editing software.  I feel like I spend more time working out how to use new buttons in new locations to do the same things I was doing before.

Sanctum 2018 – Come and Be Involved. #Pioneer

Jun 6

Come and experience a Church Year all within a few days!

24th-26th July 2018

Summer is nearly here and that means we are approaching Sanctum 2018! This is a fantastic retreat/gathering or sacramental alt:worshippers. If you have never been to The Community of the Resurrection, it takes place in the idyllic monastic setting of The Community of the Resurrection in the heart of the Pennines!This year we are exploring the seasons so you can expect a bit of Christmas, a bit of Easter and a bit of…. All of the seasons.What can you expect? Some new ways of engaging with worship. Every year, I find that someone introduces me to God in a new and exciting way. Some of those ways inform how we do it back in our own context – but that doesn’t mean it’s just for ordained ministers. Whether you lead worship or just want to come along and experience something different, this is for you!

The collaborative nature of Sanctum means that you can bring your own prayer station with you or get involved with acts of worship that other people are creating!  If you’ve always wanted to get involved but don’t know where to start, this is a really encouraging space to do that in.

Sanctum is a great space to explore where God is leading us as creative people who find Him in the sacraments. It is a place to be inspired to experiment with new ideas in the coming years. – Participant from 2017

There are also opportunities to share throughout the week with workshops and the obligatory socialising.

And the shameless plug is that Metanoia are doing the Christmas Service with added Rock!!

The Woman at The Well – Worship Resources

Nov 20

Last night at the Rock Mass we were looking at the interaction between Jesus and the Woman at the Well.  I know someone who works for Yorkshire Water so we had an installation of a stand pipe in the centre of church.  This linked in with the use of the well known “to be known is to be loved” monologue.

For the confession we used Holy Water by Inglorious.  As the God’s forgiveness was pronounced, the priest sprinkled the congregation with the holy water from underneath the standpipe.  After exploring what it means for God to welcome in the outsider, the stranger and the alien, we wrote our prayers on the giant blue paper cross with chalk whilst Metanoia played Where the Street’s Have No Name.