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Diocesan workshop focuses on estates ministry in Lancashire

A workshop led by the Bishop of Burnley, Rt Rev Philip North, and involving representatives from estates churches from across Lancashire took place recently at St James' Church, Lower Darwen.
The inspiring event was an opportunity for clergy and laity to get together, to network and share experiences.
As delegates gathered, the first of the Diocese of Blackburn’s applications to the Church Commissioners’ Strategic Development Fund for £1.3m for ‘Outer Estates Leadership’ was being submitted.
Rev Linda Tomkinson from Mereside; Rev Tim Horobin from St James’ and Rev Peter Lillicrap from St Mark and St Luke spoke at the conference about their experiences and achievements so far and looked to the future.
The day was led by Bishop Philip. Archdeacon of Lancaster Michael Everitt and Archdeacon of Blackburn Mark Ireland also attended.
Keynote speaker was Andy Delmege, who chairs the National Church Estates Network. Richard Cooke from The Church Army (an organisation that will partner with the Diocese to create a Church Army Centre of Mission on Grange Park, Blackpool if our Church Commissioners’ application is successful) also spoke about his own experiences on an estate near Selby in Yorkshire.
Other Lancashire parishes with speakers who shared about the challenges and opportunities of estates ministry at the workshop included: Rev Anne Morris, St Oswald, Knuzden; Rev Deborah Prest of Greenland St Anne and St Paul, North Shore, Blackpool; Rev Phil Hudd from Christ Church, Lancaster and Rev Guy Jamieson of Nelson, Little Marsden.
Meanwhile, Gill Beeley and Greg Smith from Together Lancashire (a grouping of Methodists, Anglicans and other denominations, working together to address poverty in all its forms in Lancashire) outlined work they have been doing on community initiatives in south west Burnley and Blackpool.
Bishop Philip explained the workshop’s three key aims during his introduction;
  • To clearly state the Diocese sees ministry on estates as vital; it lies at heart of spiritual renewal
  • To present new ways churches on outer estates can be supported, as the ministry in this context can often be simultaneously rewarding and frustrating
  • To share information about current Diocesan and national initiatives and offer the opportunity to network
Bishop Philip has been championing the importance of ‘estates evangelism’ on the national stage for some time now. He is also chairman of a national group focusing on the topic, as a strand of the CofE’s ‘Renewal and Reform’ programme.
The Bishop said: “You are here today because you work on the edges and that is where Christ located himself. Your work matters and we want to encourage you to take risks and to seize every opportunity and don’t be afraid of failure.”
A key outcome of the successful workshop was a pledge to create more opportunities to gather together and share experiences and best practice in the future.
The application process to the Strategic Development Fund for the £1.3m for ‘Outer Estates Leadership’ has two stages and the decision will be known later this year.
Speaking after the workshop, Bishop Philip added: “We have heard inspiring stories today and have also been challenged by some of the realities of ministering on estates. I was delighted with the strong message coming back from the delegates that they want to continue meeting together.”
Ronnie Semley

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