building community c

barn-raising.jpgThe other morning I received these words from my Richard Rohr daily thought:

I am interested to see many more forms of intentional community than what we see today. . . . I would like to see the equivalent of Jesuit Volunteer Corps communities connected to every parish, where young people might commit to live for a term of two or three years, committed to the work of justice and peacemaking. [2] I would like to see the parish encourage members to purchase homes in the vicinity of one another and in neighborhoods where there is greatest need, as an expression of the parish’s work. . . . I would like to see every parish have a version of a L’Arche community. [3] I am interested in the construction of simple homes, affordable and available for both poor and rich, to create neighborhoods where all can live and interact and be helpful to each other.

As I reflect on the future here on the Greenwich Peninsula I am challenged as to how this might look. As I consider moving in to a new setting in Newham I am pondering those words and feel challenged. I believe intentional community to be the real energising thing in ministry …. pairing it with cathedrals and parish settings grounds and earths it in a powerful way.

More pondering, reflecting, contemplating.

we talked we prayed we ate

IMG_0437Agapai has been on elf the highlights of the week for quite a while now. I find there is something very special, something very ‘rooting’ and ‘connecting’ in a small group of us getting together each week to talk, pray and eat. Well actually we eat, talk a lot about anything, then talk a little about our weeks, pray for each other a little and then share bread and wine before going home.

Tonight we chatted a lot while sharing a little of our lives, our concerns, and what we wanted or needed prayer for. It is always exciting to see what is happening in each of our stories and how there is an evolving pattern of the cycles of our lives.

I believe that when we eat together something special happens. When we eat together with Jesus at the table, present in bread and wine, then I believe something special and spiritual happens …. but I probably think that about the former as well.

It seems to me that many if not every important conversation or ‘event’ that happens in the gospels in in the context of a meal. I’m sure there is something in the eating, but I am sure there is something more in the giving the time; because as we eat and chat and listen we are giving the gift of time and presence to each other.

I am wondering if that ‘giving of presence’ is a key element go growing any kind of community. This small Agapai group is community; I think we would all agree with that as we have all supported each other through ‘stuff’ this year. But, I don’t think we are community because of our size … we are quite fragile … but we are community because of our willingness to be present to each other, to listen to each other, and to pray for each other.

I think what is happening here is quite exciting …. although I am not sure I fully understand it …

 

a great day

DSC_0415I love days like today ….
a long day ….
full of a variety of things
where I am doing a lot of the  stuff I feel I am ok at and that energise me
rather than those draining things that no one likes to do …

The day started in school as I chatted to parents about baptism while on ‘gate duty’.
After having a cup of tea with a member of staff, I rushed off to our secondary school to take the Harvest service …
Did this little trick as part of my talk from my friends at Mission Magic:

It seemed some of the staff and students were pretty impressed as I had a lot of good feedback … and it was fun with a great Harvest message … bonus!

I then rushed to another school to have chat with a member of staff as well as do some self esteem work with a pupil …. before then popping home to prepare food for tonight’s Agapai.

As I knew we had new people coming tonight to Agapai I played safe and produced a vegetarian dish and sorted some stuff in the bread maker … and then I made it back to the secondary school for the prospective Year 7 Open Evening. Here I had some great conversations with current students, staff and prospective new parents.

Finally I got home after 7 in time to finish the meal for tonight Agapai and take the bread out of the bread maker! Tonight we had a great chat, we shared a little of our stories and passions … we had new people … and we ended by praying for each other before sharing some bread and wine with a few of the words from the Northumbria Community’s Eucharist liturgy.

I feel so flipping energised!
The day has flown by ….
… but I feel I have done some of the stuff I was created to do today
So today is a good day
Not perfect … as some things and some people are missing …
but a good day …. and tonight … I am content with that.

Tonight I will be finishing my day with tonight’s Northumbria Community Compline:

The peace of God
be over me to shelter me,
under me to uphold me,
about me to protect me,
behind me to direct me,
ever with me to save me.
Amen 

 

what a weekend

poster latest .jpegIt’s been a pretty amazing weekend!
For the last few months I have been pretty involved in the planning and running of the first ever Residents Association Summer Fayre. I was part of an amazing team that caught a big vision of local traders, local artists, local musicians, local foodies …. you get it …. local local local …. getting together to put on some sort of festival which would be enjoyed by local people. The vision for the event was that local people would have an opportunity to showcase themselves o that local residents could then make contact with them in some capacity throughout the rest of the year.

We received lottery funding, we received sponsorship from some amazing people and organisations and we put on a pretty cool and great event! We had 400 – 500 people throughout the day.

I had some amazing conversations with people and particularly loved the conversation which went something like ‘I’ve got friends who are Christian and vote Tory …. how does that work?!!!’ You know I would have agreed wholeheartedly with this person …. (now don’t go bashing me Christian Tory friends …. because I am not saying you ain’t Christian or rubbish like that …. I’m just saying I don’t get your voting choices! Two different things!)

The atmosphere at the event was amazing. Lots of people talking to each other and some people now, a few days later, making links and sharing conversations of Facebook …. which has got to be good as talking is how community starts …. and we need more community here.

Some people did ask why there was no Holy Trinity logo on the sponsor list considering the amount of time I had given  …. my response was that, for me, the role of church is to bless community and help community to grow and to inspire community … but most of all to serve community. We don’t need recognition for people to know we are serving … that should show in our attitude of being willing to just get involved and bless. I hope we did.

So … my hopes from this is that community will develop, that we will interact more on the peninsula and that we, as church, can understand more about how we can bless this community. Working behind the scenes to help this community grow is something that church does , or should do, and it’s exciting to see. Obviously we also want HTGP to grow (you’d surely expect a vicar to want that!) and maybe when people see us they will become interested … but if they don’t … nothing will change …. we will continue to serve, and to bless, and to get involved … because that is what we are called to do here. That will not stop.

Thanks planning team, thanks musicians, thanks stall holders, thanks funders, thanks concierge and porters and village manager, thanks bouncy castle people, thanks millers ark people, thanks food vans …. and thanks to those of you who came.

gpcu pt 4 …. are you HAPPY!?

One of the most amazing organisations on the Peninsula that have been a real support to me since being in post at HTGP have been Livability. Andy and Corin have been amazing in their regular check ins with me, coffees and just general chats about how we grow ‘church’ on the peninsula.

ravesOne of the great resources Livability has is The Happiness Course.
I Happiness-Course-Logo-750x350have been licensed to run this course and, after a few hiccups,  ran the course with Andy from Livability (who basically wrote it!) for students and staff at Ravensbourne College.

This was an excellent time and a good example of the local church and Livability working together … but also of the local church being a resource, a support … and bringing light into the stress full lives of and serving both the students and staff of the college. Senior staff even sat in on some of the sessions as they were intrigued and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive … so much so that the college have asked me to run another course in the autumn term as they can see the real benefit of having a course like this to be a tool in helping to reduce student, and staff, stress.

If you are looking for something to help you engage with your local community … seriously check out The Happiness Course as a possible resource for your setting.

While serving the college through the happiness Course another departmental staff member got sight of something else we offer and invited me in to the college … but that’s another gpcu for another (maybe tomorrow!) day!

 

 

where to start?

IMG_1615Living on the Peninsula can be fun and vibrant.
Homes are being built so quickly that every day I go on a prayer walk I see something new.
This is not because I have poor observation skills but due to the fact that new things are appearing every day.
In my walk today I counted 20 buildings that are now being built or are inhabited that were not present when I moved here 18 months ago.
In the next 18 months there will be at least another 20 and possibly the starting of a new tube station, designed by the amazing Calatrava.

In this setting I am attempting to work with others to build ‘church community’.
It’s a big challenge … but I came here because I like big challenges and it is what inspires me!
I am, though, looking for people to join me in building community and church here.
This feels like a repetitive post … but people come and go here very regularly …. so it is kind of admissible to ask the same thing every three to six months when anywhere between 20 and 50% of the community could have changed.
if you have just moved to the Peninsula, or know someone who has that may be interested, then please put us in touch with each other.

One thing I notice here that I have not encountered elsewhere is that generally people don’t seem to have ‘habits’ like they have in other communities.
By this I mean in other places if I went somewhere on a set day at a set time I would expect to see some of the same people on a regular basis. Not everyone would be in those laces every week or day, much a significant number of them would be.
In those other places this was how I made contact with people, developed relationships, and eventually made friends.

This community is different … and I have wondered a lot why this might be.
In a lot of other areas new development is built in already existing communities of people so that there is a mix of ‘established’ and ‘new’ people mixing in the community. Here, on the Peninsula, we only seem to have the new … buildings being built on what was once just open factory space … where there was once no community we are trying to establish community.

My question is … as it seems we are needing to start from scratch here …. is

How do people start to build community?
What is the actual spark that gets the fire of community flourishing?

It seems to be that people growing in already established community already have that fire and they work together to keep the flame burning. I wonder whether keeping the fire burning is easier that getting the flame started in the first place. Certainly I remember from camping and ‘survival’ days that we were always told t not let the fire go out once we had it stared.

Could that illustration be relevant here today?
I’d really like to hear from others ‘out there’ who are dealing with similar issues …

what is the spark of church community?

so tonight … we dream

"Follow Your Dreams"So tonight we had that meeting about doing something with the young people who live on the Peninsula.

A couple of people had to pull out at the last minute for good reasons but three of us chatted about ideas and possibilities and the skills and interests we have. The people that could not make it have outlined what they feel they could offer.

I don’t want to get too excited too quickly … we have no money, no knowledge of what the young people here want, no location to be based in, no equipment, no real authority to do anything …. and yet we have a group of people who desire to do something positive for young people that live here, and yet we have people willing to give their time and their skills, and yet we have people who are not content to say ‘there are no facilities here’ and instead wish to have a positive impact.

That in itself is really quite exciting … more ‘watch this space time’ …