Church Related Community Work

August

Church Related Community Work is a distinctive and recognised ministry within the United Reformed Church and CRCWs play a vital role in the denomination’s community involvement. URC CRCWs are called by God, professionally and theologically trained and then commissioned to help the church to live out its calling.

They use the principles of community development to respond to and challenge the issues facing their particular neighbourhoods and communities. CRCWs work alongside a wide range of individuals, groups and organisations, developing initiatives and projects to transform individuals, churches and communities.

There are currently 16 CRCWs ministering throughout the synods of the URC. Between them, they enable churches to widen their mission by: identifying local needs and opportunities; confronting injustice; organising community action; developing and supporting initiatives that improve the lives and wellbeing of local people; and theologically reflecting upon that action.

CRCW ministry brings many new challenges to existing church congregations.  Engaging with the local neighbourhood opens up the possibility of seeing and hearing God for those outside the church, whilst allowing such Good News to transform and enrich our own churches and communities.

Project Development Grants and Funding

News and Information

The 2017 Project Development Grants Programme is currently open
"The Project Development grant programme is a pilot grant programme offering awards up to £10,000 to support churches to become more sustainable through the diagnosis of issues affecting the church, by testing the viability of proposed solutions to improve sustainability, and through development of guiding policies and plans that will be implemented through an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, or other large church heritage funders."

Please note that the next deadline for applications (due to have been 27 February) has been extended to 10 May 2017. For more information or to download the application form, please click here.

Alison Micklem Community-minded

“Letting go is hard, but we hope to leave a legacy of transformed communities”

AlisonMWeb

Writing this last column for Reform had reminded me that letting go is always hard. There came atime when Jesus had to entrust the task of continuing his work to the disciples – whether they had really grasped the full impact of what he had been teaching them or not. Fortunately, over time, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, they not only understood, but developed and spread his message.
   All of us face times of letting go. In the church-related community work programme we have fixed contracts, so we know when that time will be and can put an “exit strategy” in place, aiming to ensure that at least some of the activities with which we have been involved will be sustained. Perhaps more important, yet harder to quantify, is the legacy we hope to leave, of changed attitudes and transformed communities.
   When reflecting on our work at our recent residential, the list of activities in which we engage was long and varied. Even more telling were the responses concerning: how we think the church benefits from our ministry, the impact of our work on the community, how we see ourselves, and what we would like to tell the wider church. The following selection does not do justice to the range of responses, but it gives a flavour of our hopes, intentions and commitment:
   
Church-related community workers are urban missionaries and practical theologians, meeting people where they are, reaching places and people that other initiatives – both church-based and secular – do not reach. Our ministry is transformational, not simply making a difference to people’s circumstances and environment, but changing the way in which they see themselves and understand life.
   We have a prophetic role in challenging the church to change – not least by prioritising kingdom growth over church growth (we are called to share good news, not fill pews!) It strikes us that people come to our projects because they want to, bringing anticipation and joy that is often lacking from even the most regular churchgoers – many of whom list a sense of duty and force of habit among their reasons for attending.
   We are able to challenge some of the traditions and expectations with which the church is burdened; not to undermine it, but rather to broaden its horizons, showing that despite popular belief, it might still have something valuable to offer. We believe that the church has the potential to be so much more than it currently perceives itself to be capable of, because church is about people, not buildings, and people – all people – are offered the transforming gift of God’s love and invited to share in life in all its fullness.
   
   Why am I attempting the impossible task of summarising all that our ministry is and aspires to be – all that I have been sharing through stories of our engagement over the past two years – in the space of a few short paragraphs? Others will continue to give an account of our particular ministry in a variety of ways, but I hope that understanding and connections will continue to develop through what has been told on this column’s pages. Having said that, I know one of the difficult things about letting go is that one has no control over what others will make of one’s legacy.
   I face the same issues as I move into the final phase of my time here in Liverpool. I ask myself: what difference has my presence made? And what lasting impact will there be? While it is important to ask the questions, it is not helpful to dwell on them too long – not least because many of the answers lie in the future. The results, like our efforts, are dependent on God’s grace and will unfold in God’s time.
   I leave you with an image of one of my achievements which I am fairly confident will last at least a few years. During a recent community initiative to give our local park a facelift, I spent many hours painting the railings of a bridge (pictured). With every brush-stroke I left a message for future park-users who enjoy the improved environment: I was here!

 

CRCW Student - Vicky LongboneVicky (2)Web

Hi, I’m Vicky and have recently started training for CRCWministry.

I’m married to Tony and have a 12 year old son, Harry. We live in Wolverhampton in the Midlands, but I’m really a Southerner, and Tony a Northerner! We are very blessed in our lives here, surrounded by wonderful people, and very much supported by our church at Lea Road. We are all massively into Scouting which takes up a lot of our spare time, but at least it’s a family activity! Cub camp and Scout Camp mean we’re lucky enough to have 2 family holidays a year!

My placement is at Wednesbury Baptist Church, and I’m loving it! The church has a shared vision for community outreach work and there are some exciting things happening, especially the luncheon club we started in October which is flourishing and really pulling different parts of the community together.

I have found the academic side harder, but am now starting to settle into a routine and becoming more accepting of the fact that not every question has an answer! The staff at Luther King House have been amazing and guided me through the difficulties, and I am starting to relish the learning I have ahead of me.
I feel very blessed to be in this position, knowing that my actions are making a positive difference to others and I thank God every day for calling me to community ministry.

Much Love
Vicky x

In this section you will find information you may find useful, for the initial stages of becoming a Church Related Community Work Minister. If, after reading the following documents you feel called to this ministry and would like to know more, please email the CRCW office or phone on 0207 916 8653.

URC CRCW Minister Initial enquiry

Questions for Candidates to Consider

Information about Training for CRCW Mnistry

Candidating Assessment

Could God be Calling You to Ministry

Kirsty NewCRCW Student - Kirsty Mabbott

My name is Kirsty and I’m about to start the second year of my ministerial formation as a Church Related Community Worker. I’m originally from the West Midlands but currently live in Manchester while studying at Northern College. I’m on placement at Nexus Art Café which can be found in the Northern Quarter in Manchester. Nexus is a community arts café and works to the motto of creativity, community and spirituality.

My first year of formation has been a rollercoaster ride, there have been highs and lows – as there are for everyone. I’ve learnt more than I can possibly list and feel that in terms of my preparation for ministry as a CRCW I have come a very long way, the exciting part being that the next three years will help me journey with God beyond my dreams and imaginings and even then a lot of the real learning won’t happen until I’m called to a project.

The more I learn and see the more I become passionate about challenging inequality and enabling others to enable themselves so that communities can grow closer and stronger and so God’s Kingdom can move close to being realised here and now.

When I’m not studying and working at Nexus or attending Northern College Governors Meetings, I enjoy reading, watching films, painting, writing poetry, singing, playing my tenor and descant recorders (they aren’t all squeaky things given to small children), eating strawberries and chocolate (but not together). I also like listening to music from opera (Tosca is my favourite) to heavy metal (Marilyn Manson, Korn etc) and everything in between. I am also trying to learn to cook, my girlfriend is trying to teach me but it’s very slow going and like gardening it isn’t one of my strong points.

During the last year I have gained a real love for Liberation Theology and have enjoyed delving into Freire, Gutiérrez, Radford Reuther, Cheng and many more. I have realized that I have a real love for queer and feminist theology, but also have a desire to see more Christian Hospitality and Radical Welcome for all in the communities in which we live, work, love and pray.

I have loved and hated the first year of my formation and hope that the second year provides as many opportunities to learn, grow, talk, share, laugh, cry and experience God in the small and large.