Open Meeting: Background, and Bristol?
Present at the meeting were
Andrew Kellett (Salvation Army),
Clive Richards (Trinity Tabernacle),
David Philips (Trinity Tabernacle),
Debbie Forman (CYM, Bristol),
Erica Dunmow (Urban Mission Dev. Advisor),
Hilary Howard (Easton Christian Family Centre),
Jenny Sainsbury (CYM Chair, Swindon),
Jon Durley (Church Army, Ty Bronna, Cardiff),
Jones Mutemwakwenda (Trinity College),
Lee Barnes (Easton Christian Family Centre),
Malcolm Widdecombe, Canon (Pip'n'Jay),
Patton Taylor, Prof. (Principal Union Theological College Belfast [Chair Trustees]),
Paul Hazelden (Crisis Centre Ministries, Bristol),
Pauline Shaw (Cotham Prish Church),
Richard Reddie (Churches Together in England, Set All Free),
Roger Sainsbury, Bishop (Portishead, Bristol),
Simon Stevens (St. Mary Redcliffe School, Bristol) and
Terry Jones (Urban Officer Baptist Church) plus two
Apologies had been recieved from
Andrew Davey (Urban Bishops' Panel),
Andrew Piggott, Ven (Archdeacon of Bath),
Chris Ellis, Rev Dr (Baptist College, Bristol),
Christine Jones, Rev (Urban Theology Unit, Sheffield),
Dave Wiles (FYT, Bath),
David Byrne, Rev (St Chad's, Patchway),
David Lawrence (Leading Edge),
Jenny Richardson (Church Army College),
Lee Rayfield, Rt Hon Dr (Bishop of Swindon),
Linda Dunnett (ICC Urban Mission Liason Officer),
Mike Hill, Rt Rev (Bishop of Bristol),
Nils Chittenden (CCWA, Durham) and
Richard Zipfel (Senior Policy Advisor, Catholic Bishops Conference).
3. READING AND PRAYER
Roger Sainsbury read Matthew 23:37 and spoke of Jesus' love for
the city, His condemnation of oppressors who tried to silence the
prophets and of His desire to gather His followers together. He
opened in prayer, praying for the Spirit of Jesus to guide us.
4. THE STORY OF JESUS IN THE CITY
Professor Patton Taylor (Chair of the Trustees) told the story
of the four Jesus in the City Congresses in Liverpool, Belfast,
Leeds and Glasgow. They have always been a congress and not a
conference: while there may be some well known speakers, the focus
has been on creating a meeting place and a market place, an
opportunity for networking. They have always been designed to
appeal to the members of urban churches and not just the leaders.
They have always reflected both the local church situation and a
wider UK dimension.
In the earlier days, there was also a significant involvement
of the national 'movers and shakers' - leaders from the
Evangelical Alliance, Shaftesbury, and so on. There was also a
significant number of ministers who had newly moved to inner city
churches and discovered they had very little support. This latter
group, in particular, had found the Belfast Congress to be a
Over the years, the organisers moved jobs, but their successors
did not get involved. The young ministers gained experience, and
their churches and projects became more firmly established.
Patton also spoke of his concern at the gradual reduction in
numbers from 600 in Liverpool to 200 in Glasgow. However, the
organising Committee for Glasgow had in fact decided to limit
attendance to around 200, aiming at a more focussed congress
around a number of specific tracks.
He hoped that, if Bristol were to
invite Jesus in the City and involve the current movers and
shakers, this could be a way of passing on the baton.
Michael Eastman felt there was something unique about Jesus in
the City, and he was particularly encouraged that Christians from
the underside felt they had a voice there. The church in the host
city is not just the host, but also a sort of laboratory: they
share their experiences, but also learn from the questions and the
experiences of the visitors. It is a unique, relational event.
Jesus in the City has always been run on a shoestring.
It has employed a bookings officer, but not someone to promote it.
It has always relied on word of mouth, and in latter years on
email and the Web. If we are seeking to reach those on the margins,
this is probably not the best strategy.
Michael was very keen that the congress come to Bristol in
2007, and was later to remark that the attendance and enthusiasm
coming from Bristol at this stage was greater than
the response from any other city we had been to.
5. OUR EXPERIENCE OF JESUS IN THE CITY
Paul Hazelden spoke of the enthusiasm of those who went to
Glasgow from the Crisis Centre in St Pauls, Bristol. They came
back buzzing. He was glad it was a Congress not a Conference and
the sharing of stories from the street was a priority.
Jon Durley from Cardiff was very enthusiastic about his Glasgow
experience and the links it made with his own work.
6. QUESTIONS AND DISCUSSION
What is so special about Jesus in the City? It is not about
abstract theology, but about incarnation, encouragement and
telling the story of real people.
Will it be a burden on local churches? There will be some work
involved, but in reality the vast majority has always been done by
very few people. We hope that sharing hospitality will be a joy
and not a burden to the local churches.
Some other points were made.
- If it encourages Christians on the streets we are keen to support it.
- God is moving along the M4 Corridor.
- We must involve the leadership of Black Led Churches and get them on board early on.
7. RICHARD REDDIE
Richard Reddie, the Churches Together in England Project
Director for the Bicentenary Slave Trade Act Project, shared his
story and spoke of the importnce of Bristol and the year 2007.
The history of a city is important in mission and evangelism.
Slavery and oppression continues in various forms today. He would
be keen to visit schools and other groups in Bristol. He could see
how his work could feed into the 2007 Jesus in the City Congress.
8. TOPICS FOR TRACKS
Roger Sainsbury circulated the following list, and asked for other topics to be added.
- Youth Ministry
- Prophetic Evangelism
- Mission in new Housing Areas
- Urban Spirituality
- Night Club and Street Mission
- Gangs and Drugs
- Asylum Seekers
- Urban Schools
- History of Bristol (Slavery, St Pauls Riots, Tobacco, etc.)
FYT/CYM had indicated they would be willing to run a Youth Minstry track.
9. FEEDBACK FROM REGISTRATION FORMS
Paul Hazelden had received 19 feedback forms from church
leaders: 17 were supportive of Jesus in the City comming to
Bristol, and 2 were non-commital.
10. DO WE GO AHEAD?
After a time of prayer, there was a united voice from the group
that it is right to go ahead with
planning to hold Jesus in the City in Bristol in 2007. The
next step is to seek wider support from churches and Christian
organisations in the city, the Western Region, and South Wales.
11. INITIAL THOUGHTS
A report from the Commission on Urban Life and Faith is to be
published in 2006. A 2007 Congress will enable us to follow this
up for the Western Region.
'Soul in the City' may come to Bristol in 2006. We will need to
Concerning finance: the Church Urban Fund has supported us in
the past. It would be good to tell them of our plans.