• CRCW helps build Luton up from the grassroots

    Karen reflection photo 002‘Luton gangs to be targeted by Bedfordshire Police,’ screams one headline. ‘Luton fast food owner jailed over drugs in takeaway bag,’ shouts another. ‘Luton terrorism hotspot,’ cries one more.

    For those unfamiliar with the area, it would seem, on first appearances, to be a place to avoid.

    But Karen Campbell, United Reformed Church Related Community Worker (CRCW) for Grassroots – a Luton-based ecumenical charity that supports community work through its involvement with the Bury Park Beech Hill Council of Churches (BPBHCC) – shows just how much work is going on behind the negative headlines, to build community and celebrate multiculturalism. 

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  • In CRCW ministry - you change the world one person at a time

    According to a recent Smirnoff Vodka campaign: "Labels are for bottles not people". This got our very own CRCW; Rosie Buxton thinking... Man Image Rosie Reflection web

    The second reflection we offer you this month is all about the labels we put on people, intentionally or not. As Rosie says in her reflection:
    "It does not matter which way you find information; labels are the first way people are defined. Vulnerable, disadvantaged, troubled, challenging, disabled, celebrity, addict, Christian, Muslim, lonely, financially inactive, refugee, asylum seeker… to name but a few. We get so caught up in labels, we forget the human being behind that label."

    Rosie is currently the church related community worker at the Swansea Region project in Wales. Rosie's reflection this month, provides a great insight into the life of a CRCW and shows us that we really should try to see the person before the 'label'.
    To read the article in full click here.

    If you would like to know more about CRCW ministry, please contact the CRCW office via our main switchboard: 020 7916 2020 or email us at crcw.admin@urc.org.uk

    Image credit: photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

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  • Holiday on a submarine...

    Simon reflection photo web crop"I got out of bed, to discover I was paddling. To our alarm, the boat was full of water and sinking! We quickly got everyone up and abandoned ship, then phoned the marina for help."    

    In the first reflection of 2018, we are treated to a collection of short stories by CRCW Simon Loveitt. If you would like to find out what  on earth happened in: 'Holiday on a submarine…'and read more amusing tales from Simon's time in ministry, you'll find them in a PDF here: It was one of those days...

    Simon Loveitt is currently Church Related Community Worker (CRCW) at The Manor Church and Community Project in Sheffield and has been a CRCW for nearly 3 decades! Simon is also the Chair of the CRCW Programme Sub-committee and has written a document called: 25 Years of Creating Change in Communities which provides a really useful insight into the ministry.

    If you would like to find out how your church could get more involved with its community or you yourself are keen to find out about what is involved in becoming a CRCW, please email me or call the URC switchboard on 0207 916 2020 and ask for the CRCW office.

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  • The run up to Christmas for a Church Related Community Worker

    We are lucky enough to have 2 reflections at once this week! This second reflection has been written by CRCW Alison Dalton, who is based at the Building Bridges projectat Tonge Moor, Bolton. This time of year can be busy for anyone, as there is so much more to squeezeAlison Dalton Dec Reflection into the days leading up to Christmas and being a Church Related Community Worker is no different!

    One example was to help organise Christmas gatherings, as Alison explains: "On the Friday of this week I had great fun with our partnership lunch club (Age UK, Church at the Centre and Tonge Children’s Centre) before I find myself acting as entertainment officer for a local community group: FUSION. This evening they held their Christmas dinner, 4 courses, for 30 local residents. Luckily another CRCW kindly shared some quiz questions with me, thanks Mal!" (Mal Breeze CRCW of the North East Blackburn Group).

    If you would like to take a look back with Alison, over the last couple of weeks, to see just how busy herself and those at the Building Bridges Projecthave been, take a look at this: The run up to Christmas for a Church Related Community Worker.

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  • Church Related Community Work is not about projects it’s about people

    This month's reflection comes from CRCW Helen Stephenson and it is a very important one because it will be the last we will hear from Helen for a while (perhaps ever!) whilst she explores a new career pathSunderland and Boldon Picture2Amend and undertakes new training. We will miss her enormously, as I am sure many of the people she works with will but we wish her the very best in the future and who knows, we may be lucky enough to see her return to the ministry of Church Related Community Work one day.

    If you are in any doubt about what CRCW ministry is all about, this would be a good reflection to read. Helen really sums up what it means to be a Church Related Community Worker and what riches can be brought to a community when everyone pulls together. Helen writes:

    "The joys of the ministry for me have been all the things that lead to project work as a result of journeying with people. Meeting people, hearing their stories, sharing in their celebrations and struggles, bringing people together, making safe spaces, making creative spaces and seeing ideas grow, people grow, challenges faced, struggles overcome and lives transformed."

    This really is a heartfelt piece by Helen, where she explores 4 themes within her CRCW career and you can read her full reflection here: Church Related Community Work is not about projects it’s about people

    To read a brief overview of the CRCW project in Sunderland and Boldon, click here.

    If you would like to know more about becoming a CRCW or about setting up a Church Related Community Work project, please email us at crcw.admin@urc.org.uk or call 0207 916 2020 for more information.

     

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  • So, the question is: What am I doing here?

    "When asked to reflect on my work as a Church Related Community Worker, I wasn’t sure quite what I would reflect on? Having completed my training this year (2017); not inducted nor LisaW Photocommissioned into an accredited CRCW Project, I felt I would struggle. I have thought long and hard about what and where reflecting might take me, it took me back to first hearing the call to Church Related Community Work and to what I have achieved since then."

    A very personal and honest piece by CRCW Lisa Wigfield this month, reflecting on how tragic personal circumstances have shaped her journey through CRCW ministry and led her to a very familiar setting.

    Read the full article here.

    If you have been inspired by Lisa's story and would like to know more about CRCW ministry, do contact the CRCW office at crcw.admin@urc.org.uk or call 0207 916 2020.

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  • Befrienders - In the heart of Manchester city centre.

    "In this modern society, it is hard to find a place to be welcomed and to meet a person who may embrace you as you are, especially in a big city."BefriendersPhoto web 002

    In this new reflection by CRCW student Maria Lee, we hear about the impact 'Befrienders' is having on a community in the heart of Manchester. Maria is in her final year of training and this placement, at Befrienders, is so very different to work she has been involved with before, now working alongside vulnerable communities.

    Maria writes: "The Methodist Central Hall chapel is open alongside Befrienders and is the place to reflect with quiet music on, perhaps to light a candle and people can write down their struggles or prayer requests on the board. This kind of ministry of presence is vital, as an oasis in the midst of a noisy city life."

    To read Maria's reflection and find out about other agencies who work with Befrienders in Manchester, click here.

    If you are interested to find out more about Church Related Community Work (CRCW) and are perhaps inspired to find out more about training opportunities, please contact us and we will respond with all the information you require.

    We also have a CRCW facebook page and twitter account: Enabling Change where you can follow news and updates.

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  • Community Project Awards 2018

    Is your church doing something amazing in its community? families matter 2016 winner

    Tell us – and win up to £4,000!

    For more information on the Community Project Awards 2018, click here.

    You can watch an incredibly inspiring film, created by Prophet Motive Films, which shows the impact of four projects on their community. Mark Pickering, who talks about the Feel Better, Enjoy Life More project at Broadway URC says: "We find practical ways that all of the congregation can engage in mission by getting alongside people in the community, getting to know them and building trust".

    Julia Cross, who helps to run the Families Matter project at Cornerstone Hythe URC says: "We have a SWANS group, which is supporting parents with children with special needs. Parents come along to that group, really worried about their child, not knowing who to turn to and they find friendship, support, they find people who can include them and value them."

    View the film here.

    Picture caption: Families Matter, a project based at Cornerstone URC in Hythe, was the overall winner in 2016 ©URC/Chris Andrews

     

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  • Winson Green in Bloom

    For our latest CRCW reflection, we have a wonderful film created by Kevin Snyman, which shows 'Winson Green in Bloom'. WinsonGreenComGardenWebCropAdella Pritchard, who is the Church Related Community Worker (CRCW) for Bishop Latimer United Church in Birmingham talks about how important Bishop Latimer Community Garden is to the local area and how it not only brings people together but also provides people, many of whom may not have a garden of their own, to learn, share and grow produce and flowers, as well as making friends:

    "For me, it was a fast realisation. It wasn't just about coming and gardening, it was about building friendships between the gardeners".

    Andrew Simons talks about setting up the community garden in 2009 and how he helped enable volunteers and community groups to establish 'grow sites' and provides an insight into the impact it has had: "It's a great way of bringing the community together to share knowledge, to share experiences and to get to know each other."

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  • A bit of a do...

    "Sometimes, in my job, the hardest thing to do – is nothing."Ann Honey Reflection web crop

    "Recently the congregations who worship in the building decided they would like to have a combined event. They wanted to organise something that people in the community would come to, to have fun and to meet new people."

    It's time for another reflection and this month, CRCW Ann Honey talks about what happens when you are nearing the end of your CRCW Project and you realise that you now have to step back...even if you don't always want to!

    Read Ann's reflection: A bit of a do... here.

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  • What do I prepare for the end of my life? - Challenging topics for the Seniors Community Group.

    Jo patterson is currently in the second of her two-year placement projects at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Brixton, South London and enjoying the challenging diversity it brings on a daily basis. Seniors photo for blog WEB

    One of the groups that Jo works directly with is the Seniors Community Group, who meet regularly and have a varied program of visiting guests, bible study, reflection and food! Many topics are discussed and the latest one has been around a theme that for many people, can be a difficult to talk about: “What do I prepare for the end of my life?”

    Read Jo's reflection here.

     

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  • An interesting place to be!

    Luton photo web crop

    Church Related Community Worker (CRCW) Karen Campbell works with the Bury Park Beech Hill Council of Churches - an ecumenical group of churches in Luton and it is a very interesting place to be.

    "It is a town where some families have lived for several generations, whilst others are simply passing through. It is a town of very many colours and cultures. A town where faith really matters. It is a town where difference is widely valued and respected, but where some people seek to use difference as an excuse for hatred and division."

    In this month's reflection, read about the Same Difference initiative, which explores various themes in life which make us at once the same, and yet different.

    Read the full story here: Luton - An interesting place to be!

    For more information about this project, visit: BPBHCC, Luton

     

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  • Festival plaudits for United Reformed Church at Greenbelt

    big top News images 554x415The United Reformed Church made itself ‘More than Welcome’ at sun-kissed Greenbeltduring the August Bank Holiday Weekend; attracting many a compliment for its thoughtful, and thought-provoking, presence – and wide-ranging activities.

    The URC’s ‘More than Welcome’ theme for 2017 proved to be fertile ground for conversation and action during the festival of arts, faith and justice. From a knitted food treasure hunt through to intentional conversations, cake and debate, poetry, story-telling, a panel discussion and much more; the URC – with a Greenbelt team of 51 –based its programme on the question posed in Luke 14:15-24: ‘Who’s missing from the banquet?’  This led to further questions: ‘Who’s missing from our conversations, our communities, our churches?’ The challenge was then thrown down: ‘Jesus invites everyone. Do you? What will you do to fully include others – and allow them to replenish and change you?’

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  • The Day That God Came Into Church by poet-minister Lucy Berry

    man in church Lucy Berry News images 554x415The theme which the United Reformed Church has chosen for this year's contribution to Greenbelt is “More than welcome". It's an interesting phrase. I'm not even sure what it means! What could be more, or better, than sincere and authentic welcome? Many people feel that churches can be hostile, judgmental places. I believe many of them aren't but we're highly complicated – often without realising it. This poem looks at the disconnection which can so easily exist between God and Church.

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  • Affectionate farewells to long-serving Church House staff

    david tatem News images 554x415Colleagues and staff, past and present, gathered to say farewell to two United Reformed Church ‘stalwarts’ in July. Wendy Cooper, Administrator for Church and Society (Mission), and the Revd David Tatem, Secretary for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, both retired after collectively serving 74 years with the URC.

    Wendy, the longest serving member of staff at Church House, retired on 31 July after 36 years’ service with the URC. David was honoured for his 38 years of ministry with the Church.

    Wendy’s faithfulness and professionalism in her work spanning more than three decades was at the heart of the tributes during her farewell lunch. Opening the proceedings, Francis Brienen – Deputy General Secretary (Mission) – praised Wendy for having ‘survived’ at least six Church and Society Secretaries and 32 General Assemblies.

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  • Thanksgiving service for Windermere Centre: ‘All have played their part’

    windmere thanksgiving 2 News images 554x415Carver Uniting Church hosted a thanksgiving service on Saturday 15 July for the life of the Windermere Centre, which has closed after 31 years as a much-loved residential training, retreat and hospitality centre for the United Reformed Church.

    The congregation represented people from across the denomination, including former staff, members of the Windermere management committee and its predecessors, members and friends of Carver Uniting Church who had volunteered at the centre and supported its work, as well as people who have run and attended courses over the years.

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  • From church hall to community hub with ‘Mead 500’

    Mead News images 554x415Why resurrect an old church hall when you could build a new centre for local people instead? The Revd Jenny Mills explains how the Newport Pagnell United Reformed Church family has come together to fundraise for a community building. 

    It is an exciting time in the life of the church and we have just launched the final phase in our fundraising efforts to create a wonderful community resource in the centre of Newport Pagnell.

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  • New Beginnings

    I have consumed vast quantities of bacon butties, scones, sausage squares, sausage links as every activity seems to be MarieCrop2 Web 002accompanied by food.  But as Revd Peter Brain, a former Synod Moderator and Church and Society secretary once observed ‘a church and community that eats together, also grows together’.

    CRCW Marie Trubic talks about New Beginningsas she embarks on a new term in Glasgow with the recently accredited CRCW project at Priesthill and Shawlands URC's. Read her reflection here: New Beginnings.

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  • Levenshulme Women's Group - A reflection by Liz Kam

    “One of the privileges of being a CRCWM (Church Related Community Work Minister) is having time. Knowing that your post willinspire Levenshulme WebPhoto last at least 5 years, and may be even 10, gives a CRCWM an opportunity to develop strong working relationships and trust with local people, and to walk with them through journeys of transformation.”

    In the second reflection for June, CRCWM Liz Kam talks about her work with an inspirational Women's group in Levenshulme: "...they are a flourishing group of women committed to breaking down barriers of difference, ethnicity, age, culture and religion".

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  • As the dust of the election settles, much remains uncertain

    Four days after the country went to the polls, Grace Pengelly, the URC Secretary for Church and Society, reflects on the uncertain political landscape we are currently inhabiting.

    Since Theresa May called the snap election on 18 April, politicians and political parties have campaigned intensively, seeking to secure their place in our next government. Voters were encouraged to reflect on the challenges that face the whole of the UK, as well as those specifically affecting our most marginalised individuals and communities. Many of our churches will have played a crucial role in this process, hosting hustings that provided a platform for parliamentary candidates to present their policies to the local electorate.

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