Wednesday, 29 April 2009

on the streets of Sheffield

I've been in Sheffield over this past long weekend. I began by visiting the leadership team of the Bolsover & Staveley circuit. They've been going through a hard time recently with a minister being off work on long term illness so it was good to share food and conversation with them. There are some exciting things developing and I hope our time together was one of encouragement.

I stayed with the chair, Vernon and his wife Meg. Beth, their 16 year old daughter is about to do her GCSE's and it was great getting to know them all as a family plus their other daughter Jo, at Chester uni, who popped home for a night. Their son Tom is a drummer in a rock band based in Germany.

Friday was spent looking at a number of church related community projects. We met at Victoria Hall in the city centre and heard about ASSIST which works among asylum seekers and refugees offering short term accomodation in the 3 houses they own. They support about 70 asylum seekers a year. This was a vision of a Local Preacher, Robert Spooner and other Christians and they now have 50 active volunteers working in a number of different teams. The quality of their work is seen in that they are the first such organisation to get help from Muslim Aid.

Inderjit Bhogal was also with us and he shared more about the 'City of Sanctuary' initiative. Sheffield became the first city of sanctuary offering a welcome and hospitality to all people. It was great to hear how this grass roots initiative is growing exponentially. Some of you who were at Conference in Scarborough may remember Inderjit spoke about this in the 'resourced debate' and I mentioned it in my Conference address. Please support this initiative in your own village, town or city.

We spent the rest of the morning looking at a couple of chaplaincies which the Mission is involved in. Firstly the superintendent minister, Noel Irwin, showed us the paintings by Ros Norsworthy 'Faithful City' which were featured in the Methodist Recorder recently. They were very impressive oil on board (40 x 7 foot) modern day Sheffield city scenes depicting the Easter Story.

We popped in to the John Lewis Partnership to listen to how apprecited the chaplaincy to the Store is. Then a walk to the Sheffield Hallam University multi-faith chaplaincy centre where we met with5 of the 16 strong team.

Noel with Yusef, one of the Muslim chaplains.

Over lunch I had the opportunity of meeting with the District leadership team and hearing of some of the exciting and creative things happening across the District......and an insight into the following days Synod!

Parsons Cross is a 1930's and then 1950's large housing estate with around 30,000 residents. The original community moved here to be 'above the smog' with new housing and lovely wide roads. More recently it has become a depressed area of Sheffield and the Council have major plans for renovation to try and create a sense of community.

So we met up with the local minister, Judith Jessop and one of her Anglican colleagues Ian who is also Diocesan Missioner, to walk the streets and hear some of the plans and dreams. We ended up at Mount Tabor !!! one of three Methodist churches on the estate.

It was good to chat to some of the church members from the three congregations and then to share with the circuit leadership team some of their plans. Like many churches they have had a 'glorious past' but are now seeking to find the best ways of responding to the needs of their communities today. Please pray for them.

About 8.30pm we went to the Anglican cathedral for a Sheffield wide ecumenical youth event with over 200 young people there - lots of loud music, street dancing, bouncy castle jousting and an artist in residence...and Vernon was desperate for one of the extra large hamburgers that were on sale...we left before the midnight finish!


Anonymous said...

Please continue your prayers ..... from 4th January 2010 I will be starting work with the Methodist Church as Fresh Expressions Community Worker, working ecumenically with the churches of Parson Cross.

Anonymous said...

Please visit the website of the new Parson Cross Initiative, and details of the Fresh Expressions work being undertaken.