A source of updates, stories, lessons, examples and peer news / resources from Building Bridges of Hope - a 'living laboratory for changing churches' sponsored by the Churches' Commission on Mission of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (an official ecumenical body for Christian denominations in England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland). Updated regularly.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


“As Christians in a multi-faith, Muslim majority context, we Christians are a minority. But we are not ‘surviving’ we are living!”

These were the words of the Rev Arun John, who heads up the Bradford Inner Ring Group, an ecumenical church consortium exploring fresh possibilities of engagement in the inner city. He was speaking at the 2005 Future Church Conference today at the High Leigh conference centre in Hertfordshire.

In this challenging new situation for a church used to being the majority, Christians need to re-learn Gospel humility, to build “the church for others” and to be a living sign of hope in the lives they lead, said Arun.

He talked about how Christians in Britain can learn from Asian Christian spirituality in witnessing to Christ through building bridges of hope towards their neighbours.

Arun John has been working in Bradford for a year now, though he had contacts in the area for a number of years. He was previously working in South Africa. He is a priest of the Church of North India.

Arun’s role is being supported by the Church Mission Society. The Bradford Inner Ring Group has been linked to Building Bridges of Hope for several years.

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“Jesus was never ‘driven’, he was led”, declared Roy Searle of the Northumbria Community at the 2005 Future Church conference. He said that he hoped for a fresh emphasis on community, character and commitment – as a critique of, and act of resistance to, the “drivenness” of modern, consumer life.

In identifying signs and examples of a ‘new monasticism’ which is also missional, Searle (who this year is president of the Baptist Union of Great Britain) said:

• Advertising is not part of our DNA. Anonymity may not be everyone’s gift, but there is a grace for some in waiting for God to motivate and call people.

• We need the spirit of generosity – giving away what is not ours to own and control.

• God moves especially on the margins, rather than the mainstream.

• We need spirituality in the Johannine tradition of ‘come and see’. Invitation not recruitment, Emmaus rather than the Damascus Road, is the norm.

• Authenticity and transparency matter more than attempts to be ‘relevant’ that are often 30 years out of date.

• A church-without-walls arises from a mission of wandering and visiting. Spirituality is ‘wandering for the love of Christ’ and seeing serendipity as gift.

• Seek Jesus not on holy hills but on the streets.

• Contemplation, holiness, charismatic, Pentecostal, ecumenical and social justice traditions need to inform our theology and action.

• Culture has disabled people. “I can’t dance.” Yes you can. Creativity awakens humanity and gives us our life back. Ordinariness is special.

• Liturgy needs to be consciously connected with everyday life.

• Partnerships can be varied, with the liminal as well as with the traditional (in both church and non-church terms).

[Picture: A 'very young' version of Roy Searle with the Historical Music Group]

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Whereas some historic churches are finding it difficult to adapt their institutions to the rapid change of modern British life, Sanctus1 in Manchester says that what holds people together in its ‘fresh expression’ of church is an emphasis on relationships rather than structures. It is rooted in traditional Christian faith, but in a bold and experimental way. Its values are community, inclusivity, creativity and sacred space. These are the things which generate energy and dynamism, says Manchester city centre missioner Ben Edson, who is supported by the Church Amy and the local Anglican diocese.

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Nearly one hundred Christians from across Britain and Ireland have been gathering today in Hertfordshire to look at the future of the church in these islands – and to find out how the concern to develop ‘fresh expressions’ of Christian community can be sustained by every-day spirituality.

The ‘Future Church’ conference is the fourth in an annual series organised by Building Bridges of Hope. BBH is an ecumenical project supported by the Churches’ Commission on Mission, part of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

With nearly 100 people attending, it is the largest FC event so far.

BBH brings together a range of innovative church projects, old and new, from a wide variety of Christian traditions – evangelical, Catholic, Anglican, Pentecostal and Free Church.

The aim is to share ideas about how Christian witness can be developed in communities where many have lost touch with the Christian faith, or have little understanding of it.

A major feature of Building Bridges of Hope is its pioneering work in the area of ‘mission accompaniment’ – the idea that a skilled and concerned outsider bringing a wide range of experience can help a church or group of churches to develop and implement their vision for the future.

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Participants at the Future Church conference meeting in Hertfordshire have been hearing about (and experiencing the worship style of) Sanctus1 - an alternative Christian community based in the city centre of Manchester. The venture has been supported by ‘traditional’ churches, but it has its own distinctive life and culture, aimed particularly at connecting with the ‘de-churched’ – those who have rejected or fallen away from Christian faith, sometimes after a negative experience of the inherited church. Sanctus1, which also shares its resources more widely through a creative website, aims to provide a variety of spaces for open discussion, socialising and alternative forms of worship. Having started several years ago with just a handful, Sanctus1 currently involves some 50-60 people and 20 associates.

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Saturday, September 03, 2005


The fourth Building Bridges of Hope ‘Future Church’ conference will take place at the High Leigh conference centre in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, on 2-3 November 2005. It’s theme is “Spirituality: Sustaining A Mission-Shaped Church”. The idea is to bring together church leaders and mission enablers concerned with renewing Britain and Ireland’s churches from the grassroots. Living examples of effective Christian engagement, drawing both on new and inherited patterns of church life, will come from those involved in BBH projects and their accompaniers. There will also be a range of speakers from the Northumberland Community (Celtic), the Salvation Army, Douai Abbey (Catholic), Sanctus1 (alternative church group), and the third order Franciscans (Anglican). Full details are on the CTBI website (*.PDF format). There are spaces for up to 100 people.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Apologies for the haitus with this blog. This has partly been due to technical problems, which we have now resolved, and partly due to the fact that people involved with Building Bridges of Hope have been too preoccupied with building the bridges to blog about it. Good in one way, but not helpful to you, dear reader!

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Saturday, July 02, 2005


Yup, we know. There's a big gap on the page. Sorry about that. Various attempts to fix it have failed. So it in now in the hands of those good folks at Blogger. I'm sure the 'normal look' will be resumed shortly. And you've got to admit, this situation adds a twist of poignancy to those oh-so-common words, "watch this space"! SB.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Carolyn Smith writes in Reform, the URC magazine, as part of their 'Catch the Vision' process:

"Come with me to Drumchapel – a post-war housing scheme on Glasgow’s edge; a place where, in rich Britain, people live with poverty. Poor housing, bad health, unemployment, low educational attainment, substance abuse and domestic violence all conspire to undermine people’s self-worth and hope for the future.

"It’s not the most comfortable place to be (the minister doesn’t live there by her own uncomfortable choice). But for all the difficulties put in people’s way of fulfilling their potential, there is creativity and purpose and, for many, a sense of pride in being from this part of Glasgow. Today it’s a re-generation area: housing is being demolished and replaced and ... the churches are changing too!

"Six congregations of four denominations, and a family/community project, are covenanted together in a grass-roots-inspired partnership. What is striking, apart from the extraordinary enthusiasm and commitment of those involved, is that the Partnership has strengthened not only relationships between the churches but also relationships between church and community. We’re discovering that ecumenism and mission are related – they work best when done together! Not only that, but we are experiencing the beginnings of what I hope will become an increasing emphasis on lay leadership (for example, the Partnership’s representative Lay Team is a clergy-free zone!).

"Truly, the potential is huge. Local people are finding a voice and renewed purpose. We’re on a journey – we don’t know all the paths we’ll take; we don’t know what the Partnership will look like next year never mind in 10 years time but we’re trying to be ‘a Spirit-blown people’, travelling hopefully, in the company of Jesus Christ – and it’s great! Our witness is becoming the stronger for it – and people are noticing." [More here]

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005


A fine piece of writing from Alan Roxbrogh on the phenomenon of emerging church. Alan is on the staff of the Missional Leadership Institute. Thanks to Dan Walters for this tip-off.

Emergent Church (q.v.) is producing rich, creative experimentation. It is seeking to recover from the Tradition the riches of spiritual disciplines and liturgy. The levels of creativity in these areas are prodigious. The turn toward an understanding of reason as more than rationalistic propositions has created wonderful engagements with Scripture and the use of the arts as expressions of creativity and celebration. These new forms of worship and spirituality emphasizing ancient practices and more aesthetic, earthbound forms of worship are wonderful gifts to the church and are, in some places, attracting large crowds of younger generations in search of some connection with God.

But sometimes one wonders where the focus of and energy of all this creativity is moving. Sometimes it feels like an end in itself – the aesthetic becomes not just the medium but also the message. Questions lurk about where God actually fits into it all and whether it’s as postmodern as it claims to be, but only a different form of modernity’s enthrallment with the self.

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Friday, April 29, 2005


The Group for Evangelisation of Churches Together in England seeks to provide help to local church councils on how to engage with contemporary spiritualities. To do this it worked with Rob Frost, the director of Share Jesus International, to run a tour in February 2004 in 13 cities across England , Scotland and Wales .

The support for this and the interest and in the contributions made at the meetings has convinced the Group that many local church leaders wish to engage effectively with contemporary spirituality but do not have the confidence or know-how to do so.

Based on the experience of the tour and the research work of Nick Spencer in the Diocese of Coventry, the Group is now preparing a workbook of eight chapters designed to provide a basic theological framework for engaging with contemporary spirituality, as well as insights into surveys of the spirituality of the general public, stories of the work in this area undertaken by some churches and their leaders, discussion points for groups, suggestions for local churches and home work for participants so that those using the book can take practical steps themselves to open up discussions.

The workbook will be published in May 2005 entitled 'Equipping Your Church in a Spiritual Age (A practical guide)'. This will be around the same time as a publication on the same subject by Church House Publishing in its 'explorations series', entitled 'Evangelising in a Spiritual Age.' The two will be complementary; the CHP publication is aimed at thinking priests and diocesan officers, the GfE workbook at members of local church councils. Nick Spencer’s research, 'Beyond The Fringe' will also be published at this time by Cliff College.

* Equipping Your Church in a Spiritual Age will cover the following subjects:
* Introduction for the group leader: how to use this book
* Spiritualities in the world round about us
* Rites of passage (including Holy Communion)
* Times and seasons
* How to develop our church to be a spiritual focus of the community
* Wholeness and healing
* Going out to the community
* Being with people of alternative spiritualities
* Sacred Britain
* Putting it into action

Each chapter will have
* Introduction (theological and analysis of the thinking of contemporary society)
* Illustrations (stories of what is actually being done by churches)
* Discussion (questions to raise issues)
* How this relates to our church
* Homework reflecting on how the chapter affects the individual, and what s/he might do as a result of the meeting and/or as a preparation for the next meeting.

The authors of sections 1 & 2 are Steve Hollinghurst and Rob Frost with adult education material by Janice Price.

In addition there will be a web site with further information and ideas on engaging evangelistically with contemporary spirituality. Cards will also be available, aimed at those who acknowledged themselves to be interested in spirituality with the title ‘Spiritual Reflections’: the main themes will be the purpose of life; sacred creation; fortune telling; stars, magic; spiritual thirst; and journeys. These will be published in conjunction with the Christian Enquiry Agency.

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Saturday, February 19, 2005


Ekklesia, UK, today:
Churches in Britain are gearing up to renew inherited structures and embolden ‘fresh expressions of church’ through a major new initiative and training course launched this week. A certificate and diploma in ‘mission accompaniment’ has been pioneered by Cliff College in association with the ecumenical Churches’ Commission on Mission (CCOM).

The course is validated through the University of Manchester and its originators say that it will help to shake up church life in the UK.

The Diploma in Mission Accompaniment (DMA), which allows people with full-time occupations to study part-time, is aimed at all those who want to use their listening and consulting skills to help local churches and Christian organisations engage more effectively in witness and action within their communities. [For general enquiries about the Diploma in Mission Accompaniment write to Peter Phillips; for application forms to the principal's secretary.]

The Cliff College DMA has been developed out of the Building Bridges of Hope programme established over the past ten years by the Churches’ Commission on Mission, part of the official ecumenical body, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

“Mission accompaniment is a new way of thinking about activating and supporting churches as they seek to become more effective channels for the Gospel,” says Churches’ Commission general secretary Simon Barrow.

“To be an accompanier in mission is to be someone rooted in prayer and theological vision,” Barrow adds. “But it also to possess an eclectic range of skills, including listening, consulting, coaching, mentoring and signposting to the right resources. It’s about long-term commitment rather than quick fixes.”

Cliff College is a world-renowned Methodist training institution with its roots in the Wesleyan holiness tradition. It has a proven track record of providing practical and academic courses in the areas of Christian mission and evangelism, both at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

The Rev Dr Peter Phillips, Cliff’s dean of students and New Testament tutor, has expressed “much enthusiasm and anticipation” about the Diploma in Mission Accompaniment, which will enable evangelicals, those in the ecumenical mainstream and Catholics to work together.

There is also an intention of engaging with ‘new churches’ and ‘new expressions of church’, such as those considered in the recent headline making Church of England report, Mission Shaped Church.

Building Bridges of Hope, which is accompanying churches at local, regional and national level as they pioneer in mission, shows that Christians of very different backgrounds can work creatively together,” says BBH director Terry Tennens, a Baptist minister.

“Those involved in delivering the Diploma in Mission Accompaniment will initially be from Methodist, Anglican, Catholic, Baptist, Reformed and Mennonite-related traditions”, he explained. “It is open to all those who want to discover how to animate the Gospel afresh in a changing world, and who are prepared to put some real backbone into it.

The Diploma in Mission Accompaniment begins in September 2005 and is recruiting students now. It will be highlighted at the forthcoming Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Assembly, which takes place in Swanwick from 21-25 February.

Also to be launched at the CTBI Assembly is a new Grove Booklet on ‘Mission Accompaniment’, written by the Philip Walker, who is the founder of Healthy Church UK, an ordained Elim Pentecostal minister, and the Natural Church Development partner for Britain and Ireland. Priced £2.75, it can be obtained post-free through sales@grovebooks.co.uk.

Building Bridges of Hope, which bases its work on the most extensive research survey of local mission initiatives ever carried out across Britain and Ireland, stresses that the Diploma in Mission Accompaniment is “not a tool of one approach or package.” Rather, it is designed to be an open resource for all the churches.

BBH is also looking at partnership opportunities with learning institutions in Scotland, Ireland and Wales to encourage and develop mission accompaniment as a methodology. It co-sponsored a recent London conference on mission consultancy, and it has worked with the Catholic Agency to Support Evangelisation (a body set up by the Bishops of England and Wales) as well as with evangelical, Anglican and Free Church bodies.

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Friday, February 18, 2005


Building Bridges of Hope is delighted to anounce the publication of a ew resource booklet, Mission Accompaniment, written by Philip Walker (Grove Booklets, £2.75, ISSN 1367-0840). The booklet is available post-free from the Grove office on 01223 464748, or email sales@grovebooks.co.uk. It will be lauched at the forthcoming Assembly of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, at Swanwick, Derbyshire, on Wednesday 23 February 2005.

The booklet is an ideal introduction to the subject, and goes well together with the new Diploma in Mission Accompaniment developed by Cliff College and Building Bridges of Hope / CCOM / CTBI. It begins in September 2005.

Mission accompaniment is a practical way of encouraging churches in effective mission through the accompnaiment of someone who is invited in not as an expert but as a fellow-traveller. It is rooted in prayer, listening, theological vision, a varied range of skills, and long-term commitment to change and witness.

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The Building Bridges of Hope development group, which coordinates and oversees the activity of the mission project across England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, has a dynamic new chair. He is the Rev Dr Philip Walker, an Elim Pentecostal minister, who is also the founder of Healthy Church UK. Philip, who has served on the development group for a number of years, is also the UK and Ireland partner of Natural Church Development (NCD). He has been Executive Director of the British Church Growth Association since 1999.

Philip Walker served as an Elim minister in York and is committed to ecumenical mission cooperation and is an active member of the Group for Evangelization of Churches Together in England -- whose new website he has put together.

Philip succeds the Rev Roger Whitehead of GfE, currently (until March 2005) also moderator of the CTBI Churches' Commission on Mission. Roger has done extraordinary work for BBH, and was a founding figure in the project. He will be much missed.

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Thursday, February 17, 2005


Building Bridges of Hope, the ecumenical mission initiatives project, been in the news this week -- because of its parent body CTBI's association with Christian Aid, and their new initiative to launch a financial appeal specifically geared for the ‘new churches’ – independent and networked evangelical, charismatic and pentecostal congregations.

The reports on Google news, on Ekklesia and on Christian Today point out that although "Churches Together n Britain and Ireland has had no direct involvement in the Christian Aid initiative... CTBI’s Churches’ Commission on Mission has been working with new and ‘emergent’ churches for some years as part of its Building Bridges of Hope missionary congregation project."

The full story is here. The ‘Act Justly’ appeal (which takes its title from a phrase coined by the ancient Hebrew prophet, Micah) will be launched at Christ Church and Upton Chapel, London, on Friday 18 March.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Building Bridges of Hope, represented by Terry Tennens, Roger Whitehead and Philip Walker (among others) will have a major presence at the forthcoming Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Assembly, which takes place in Swanwick, Derbyshire, from 21-25 February 2005.

In addition to launching a new Grove Booklet on Mission Accompaniment (ISSN 1367-0840) and two new videos, BBH will be promoting the new Diploma in Mission Accompaniment in association with Cliff College and running a seminar on the topic.

Terry Tennens says: "Building Bridges of Hope (BBH) has addressed the subject of how we transition churches from maintenance towards mission engagement in 21st century Britain and Ireland. Distinctively using 'ecumenical mission accompaniers', the skilful outsider journeys alongside listening, asking questions and signposting - from local churches, regional associations, and national denominations.

He continues: "Could mission accompaniment benefit your church or organization? Come along to this seminar and find out."

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Monday, February 14, 2005


We have had a bit of difficulty, mainly due to staff shortages, in getting the new Building Bridges of Hope videos into circulation. These are called Leadership Stories and Developing Shared Leadership. They come with study leaflets.

Some copies have been mailed out, but we are sorry if yours has been delayed. Copies of these presentations -- packed with examples and advice from churches engeged in prcatical Christian mission -- will be available at the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Assembly, which takes place at Swanwick from 21-25 February 2005.

Watch this weblog for further news.

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Saturday, February 12, 2005


A slightly belated report on an important (and, as far as we know, pioneering) gathering of people involved in mission consultancy in these islands. The conference was established jointly by Building Bridges of Hope, the Churches' Commission on Mission of Churches Together in ritain and Ireland, Cliff College, and the Group for Evangelization of Churches Together in England.

The speakers included Martyn Atkins, principal of Cliff College, who helped us to explore the blockages to consultancy within the churches. These include its technocratic, 'expert-led' image (which is not how most consultants want to be seen) and anxiety about Christian identity and mission within local churches.

Anne Topping, Methodist Connexional training coordinator, then led a challenging, hands-on workshop about different learning styles and how they can help make consultancy effective for both consultant and consultor.

The conference reflector and facilitator was Simon Barrow, secretary of the Churches' Commission on Mission. He helped us to draw together some key lessons and future possibilities. These will be shared within the network, and on this and other wesites. If you want to join the circle of encouragement, please write to us at the email address in the link below.

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Sunday, February 06, 2005


Terry Tennens, who is the Building Bridges of Hope consultant and director in Britain and Ireland, assesses the value of the annual Future Church conferences that BBH runs. Here he describes what they have achieved.

As we said before (see previous post), each year BBH has invited four representatives from the BBH pilot projects across Britain and Ireland. Also, their BBH accompanier attends. In addition, the national officers concerned with ecumenical mission have been invited, along with regional and local church leaders and interested lay people.

We find that delegates who think they have no voice in the national churches suddenly discover they are of great value in the learning process of being Church in the 21st century.

The significance of differences when held with respect and grace bears fruitful possibilities. For example, an exchange visit from Irish Methodists and Catholic young people to Scottish Presbyterians and Catholics will assist directly in the reconciliation journey for each group.

Small, fragile churches and groups of Christians who, ecumenically, are venturing in uncharted territory find confidence to consider that the community centre they lead maybe be 'church' with the blessing of the church leaders.

Listening to local stories of Christians in different parts of the four nations displaying an entrepreneurial spirit can be infectious. The Bradford Inner Ring Group has encouraged others to explore new patterns of collaborative mission together in new flexible frameworks.

The national pays attention to listen to the local in a tangible way. BBH has often been credited as “CTBI coming alongside the local.” We hope this is true, and important for all of us.

Mission theological reflection by delegates amidst the demanding activity is vital. Fresh perspective, renewed spiritual ardour and mutual support are the result.

Future Church is a catalytic environment - a no strings attached space where people accompany each other and delegates arrange mutual visits to learn and discover.

We keep a video diary and this becomes a study aid, soon available from the last two conferences.

People discover the ordinariness and yet spiritual resonance that mission accompaniment offers, not as a mechanistic solution, but as a pilgrimage God-ward together, with insights shared on the journey.

Plus the refinement and development of the skill of accompaniment (and the need to unlearn as well as to learn how to be church in the 21st century) provides hope, tools and companionship.
Why not join us in 2005? Find out by writing to the email address in the link below.

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Saturday, January 29, 2005


Terry Tennens, who is the Building Bridges of Hope consultant and director in Britain and Ireland, assesses the working of the annual Future Church conferences that BBH runs. Here he describes what they are all about and how they work

Each year we have invited four representatives from the BBH pilot projects across Britain and Ireland. Also, their BBH accompanier attends. In addition, the national officers concerned with ecumenical mission have been invited, along with regional and local church leaders and interested lay people.

On average we have seen 75 people attend each year, with relatively little advertising and promotion in the Christian media. The conference lasts over two days, usually from lunch to lunch held on a Wednesday to Thursday, either in October or November at High Leigh Conference Centre.

We appoint Conference reflectors, to accompany the gathering as an outside reflector assisting delegates in action-reflection. Speakers have ranged from specialists in mission, leadership to pioneering practitioners – and the BBH pilot projects themselves who share their story of faithfulness, innovation and the benefit of accompaniment.

The form of conference includes worship, keynote address, question and answer sessions, inter-active dispersed small groups and plenary. An important distinguishing mark is a unique gathering of Welsh, Scottish, Irish and English Christians from a variety of Christian traditions who might not usually encounter such polarities.

BBH has provided a bridge for mutual gain so that we can all benefit from learning together. In the Future Church conferences it seeks to practise what it preaches. If you need more information, please email us at the address in the link below.

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Saturday, January 22, 2005


The major ecumenical body for the churches in Wales, CYTUN (‘together’ in Welsh) has agreed to become a Building Bridges of Hope pilot as it seeks to move forward the collaboration of its denominational members.

CYTUN – inaugurated 1990 – is the creation of the Anglican, Free and Roman Catholic Churches in Wales. Its purpose is to enable them to deepen their communion with Christ and with one another and to fulfil their mission to proclaim the Gospel by common witness and service in the world.

CYTUN will focus on four of the seven BBH indicators: Focusing vision, building local partnerships, developing shared (in this case, national) leadership, and becoming a learning community (in this case, organisation).

The aims and priorities identified for the period of accompaniment through to mid 2006 are:

* To enable CYTÛN to provide a context for Church Leaders in Wales to relate to each other more effectively.

* To adapt to the requirements of the Churches and Denominations for a change to the ‘ecumenical architecture’ of the four nations from 2006.

* To ensure that the covenanted churches of Wales (formerly known as ENFYS) maintain their distinctive relationship and that the added value of covenanting is sustained within the wider family of CYTUN.

* To clarify the particular role of the Free Churches alongside their commitment to the aims and objects of CYTUN.

The group principally involved in monitoring the process and its outcomes will be the General Secretary of CYTUN, Y Llywyddiaeth, the CYTUN Council, national church leaders and general ssecretaries, and key personnel in the Welsh Covenant and the Free Church Council.

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Monday, January 10, 2005


The latest news on the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland mission book series, developed in association with Building Bridges of Hope, is as follows:

Already published:
Jeanne Hinton, Changing churches: building bridges for local mission (CTBI 2002).
Jeanne Hinton and Peter Price, Changing communities: church from the grassroots (CTBI 2003)

Due in the near future:
Stuart Murray, Changing mission: learning from newer churches (CTBI 2005).
Philip Knights, Changing evangelisation: learning from the Catholic experience (CTBI 2005/6).

Further likely titles:
Simon Barrow and Terry Tennens, Changing people: learning mission accompaniment (CTBI 2006).
Simon Barrow and Terry Tennens, Changing places: re-learning mission shaped church (CTBI 2007)

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Friday, December 24, 2004


See you in 2005...

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Monday, December 06, 2004


The Revd Terry Tennens, a Baptist minister, coordinates the work of Building Bridges of Hope in Britain and Ireland. Here he reflects on the highlights and issues emerging from the recent Catholic consultation on evangelisation, organised jointly with BBH. He writes in a personal capacity, rather than as an employee of CTBI:

As in other Church traditions, there are those adherents who see Sunday worship as a coin slot machine, ‘pay your dues’ so you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the week – ‘faith absenteeism’ Monday to Saturday. This seems to be prevalent in the Catholic Church too, although now people choose to belong.

The presentations from the Episcopal areas were stimulating:

* Paddy Monaghan from Archdiocese of Dublin giving his personal story -- the faith journey, together with collaboration in ‘power to change’ evangelisation shared by Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. He also offered a challenge about ‘over sacramentalisation’ and spelt out his preference for relational networks.

* Andrew Brookes' analysis of church-going statistics in Scotland, the decline by 19% over the last decade and lack of ordinands, highlighting the challenge ahead.

* Keith Barltrop’s picture of the landscape of the Catholic church in England and Wales and how CASE will resource and accompany the parishes.

Three other presentations stood out:

* Bobby Siddhu sharing her struggle and learning of presence and witness in Soho Square was refreshing

* Veronica Murphy and Nicky Stevens describing the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) showed the joined-up thinking of the process and connecting points of discipleship. That’s crucial for all Church traditions.

* A parish priest with a twinkle in his eye sharing the story of Base Ecclesial Communities in his ministry resonated with the cell church movement in the Protestant churches.

Questions I am left with?

* Good to meet: I was heartily encouraged that delegates felt encouraged! Which then suggested how much of a spiritual desert is it for them among their churches? Surely, there are wells of nourishment and empowerment for the journey? Speaking with one delegate, she described how high the walls are in the Catholic Church that protect us, but also prohibit us ‘going out’

* Signs of the Spirit: To be among a group of followers of Christ enthused and discerning to hear to call of God into evangelisation was edifying. To hear of the imaginative ways the new religious communities are engaging in faith sharing was instructive; for example, on the theme of ‘church as threshold and household’, listening to someone praying about a partnership with estate agents, since when people move they are most open to exploring new things...

* Bridges to build: Sharing in Christian worship is always a matter of the heart. It was renewing, releasing and empowering to be at prayer together but saddening to see the inability to commune around the Lord’s Table. Yet, I was heartened by a gracious brother who embraced me during the Mass, with equal sadness that from his perspective.

* What next - The Accompanied Journey:
Gosh! So many wonderful believers, sisters and brothers I encountered, what a joy and privilege to be a part of this gathering.
The evidence of having the skilful outsider, Simon Barrow, a member of the Church of England, reflect, question, affirm, and highlight what God is upto in the Catholic tradition – evangelisation is the priority of our times states Pope John Paul II.

* Amen! The rediscovery of the Emmaus road, the value of the one who journeys alongside as we learn to share faith with confidence, respect, integrity and faithfulness in 21st century Britain and Ireland.

Can we find accompaniers at a parish level to aid us into evangelisation?

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Thursday, December 02, 2004


The Catholic Agency to Support Evangelisation has recently established a website for enquirers about Christianity, especially young people. It is called Life4Seekers, and explains itself thus:

"Life4seekers is for those people who want to improve their life and find a new sense of fulfilment, a fresh energy and joy of living. If you are searching for happiness, a sense of purpose and new direction in life, life4seekers is the right site to explore."

Contents include:

Our place in this world - Find out where we came from, why we are who we are, and who we look up to.

Also, what is the meaning of life?

A place for God in our world - Find out if God exists, and what he is like. Could Jesus be a role model for you?

Lifestyle and values - Join us in a celebration of life. Catholics enjoy all the things in life that everyone else does - and then some!

Our Club and Community - Explore what it means to belong and be part of a new family of advisors and friends.

Spirituality & Prayer - Get in touch with your spiritual side and check out our prayer pages.

Channelling - Begin to discover new and authentic channels of supernatural life.

The idea is to present a faithful interpretation of Catholic Christianity for those whose worlds of thought and culture are 'unchurchy', and also, perhaps, to deal with some of the misinterpretations which Catholics face - about the sacraments, their devotion to Mary, and so on.

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Monday, November 29, 2004


On 23-24 November 2004 the Catholic Agency to Support Evangelisation (CASE) held a joint consultation with Building Bridges of Hope at All Saints pastoral Centre, London Colney.

CASE was set up recently by the Roman Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales as successor to the Catholic Missionary Society. It aims to be a galvanising resource for congregations, religious, diocese and movements - old and ew- within the Church.

The theme of the gathering was Changing Evagelisation, which is also the title of a book commissioned from Fr Philip Knights of CASE by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI). It will be published in 2005.

Nearly 50 people from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales came together to share stories, ideas, good prcatice and future possibilities. CASE will use the material in its own strategising, and in further conersations about the renewal and sharing of faith within and beyond the Catholic community.

Presenters icluded Mgr Keith Barltrop, the Director of CASE. Simon Barrow of the CTBI Churches' Commission on Mission acted as a 'reflector' to the consultation, helping those present to discern key themes and issues.

This models the method developed within BBH of 'mission accompaniment'. A report will follow.

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