Ministry in the margins

Thick group photoMore than 50 people from across Britain attended a special event in the Yorkshire Dales to explore what ‘ministry in the margins’ meant to them.

Organised by the United Reformed Church (URC), ‘In the Thick of it’ took place at Scargill House between 22-23 May and was designed to bring people engaged in mission and ministry in marginalised places together to discuss similar challenges, solutions, to learn from each other and be encouraged.

Representatives from Together for the Common Good, Church Action on Poverty, the Catholic Association for Racial Justice, the Methodist Diaconal Order, (URC) Church Related Community Workers, the Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT), HeartEdge, Germinate and many more also attended to provide first-hand accounts of the challenges facing Christians and others in diverse situations across the country.

‘The conversations that took place were intensely honest and felt significant,’ said Roo Stewart, Programme Support Officer for the URC’s Church and Society department. ‘We explored the impact of Universal Credit, rural, urban and estate concerns, prison chaplaincy… and it was plain to see how God was to be found and at work in places often overlooked by many in our society. It was vital to us that the voices and experiences of ‘the margins’ would being heard in decision-making, and there was a hunger to investigate how we could bring about changes to unjust systems.

Thick artwork credit Elizabeth Gray King‘The participants were able to network, gain awareness and understanding of the national picture for ministry in marginal communities and glean ideas for how they can develop their own practice, but perhaps most significant was the chance to express their own stories, and to be listened to by people going through similar experiences in a range of contexts.

‘The event was made possible thanks to sponsorship from the Council for World Mission (CWM) and we are very grateful. Its sponsorship enabled us to meet without fear of excluding those for whom the cost of attending would have been too great and to bring support and attention to an area of ministry which can often feel isolated for those living and working ‘in the thick of it’.

Top picture: Conversations where people discussed their understanding of what is meant by ‘the margins’. Questions and comments from the audience followed.
Bottom picture: Detail from the visual notes, taken by the Revd Elizabeth Gray-King, Visual Theologian, charting the group’s journey of understanding and sharing through the event. 
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ublished: 30 May 2019