Greg has strong opinions about life on an inner city estate and how the church, local politicians and government need to better understand working class culture. The story of how churches have changed over Greg’s lifetime and how ‘the Spirit’ can be rediscovered will prompt many responses. Greg might evoke admiration or disagreement but certainly food for thought!
Wythenshawe is like many inner-city areas across the UK, there is no recognised leadership… the pub landlords, the owner of a boxing gym are seen as leadership quality.
Why might Greg make these kind of comments? What is authentic leadership?
Decisions will be made about working-class estates from Westminster, from Parliament… they have no understanding of the affairs, the dreams, the aspirations of local people.
What are your experiences of the ways in which some communities have been marginalised?
Of a newly opened gym: it was the spirit, the banter, the noise, the crowd, the people.
Does this touch upon feelings of isolation in some communities and why is this?
We are relevant to the community we serve.
Is this true of many churches and if so, how do they achieve this? (If not, how could they?)
I want to see a church that’s dirty and bruised, because it is on the streets (quoting Pope Francis).
Is this our experience of church or is it more like (in Greg’s words) ‘a museum of sinners’?
The church has become middle class.
What does this mean, what does it look like and has it always been so?
We invited the spirit back in and he came luckily.
What might this mean?
The Church Urban Fund was established by the Church of England as a practical response to unmet need and has been active in local communities for over 30 years. CUF supports a whole range of urban neighbourhood projects.
The National Estate Churches Network began in 1998 in response to the famous Faith in the City report from the CofE. Its stated vision is:
‘Working with residents and practitioners to promote and support estate ministry. Partnering with policy makers and organisations so that communities on estates can flourish, bringing God’s love and hope to those in need.’
Church Action on Poverty is a national ecumenical Christian social justice charity, committed to tackling poverty in the UK. CAP works in partnership with churches, and with people in poverty themselves, to tackle the root causes of poverty.
Christians Against Poverty offers people through local churches debt counselling and money-advice courses.
Urban Theology Union in Sheffield has a wealth of resources built up by its founder John Vincent, including many of John’s books.
The Church of England’s ‘Faith in the City’ and ‘Living Faith in the City’ are still worth accessing.
Books by Dave Tomlinson cover many of the features of Greg’s story.