humbler church Bigger God - February 2022

HeartEdge is fundamentally about a recognition of the activity of the Holy Spirit beyond and outside the church, and about a church that flourishes when it seeks to catch up with what the Spirit is already doing in the world. There was a time when church meant a group that believed it could control access to God – access that only happened in its language on its terms. But God is bigger than that, and the church needs to be humbler than that. Kingdom churches anticipate the way things are with God forever – a culture of creativity, mercy, discovery and grace – and are grateful for the ways God renews the church through those it has despised, rejected, or ignored.

‘humbler church Bigger God’ is the new title for our ongoing online festival of theology, ideas and practice. We’ve developed this in response to our changing world. The church is changing too, and - as we improvise and experiment - we can learn and support each other. This is ‘humbler church Bigger God’’ - talks, workshops and discussion - hosted by HeartEdge. Created to equip, encourage and energise churches - from leaders to volunteers and enquirers - at the heart and on the edge.

The online programme includes:

Regular workshops: Church History (Fortnightly on Mondays), Sermon Preparation (Weekly on Tuesdays) and Community of Practitioners (Weekly on Wednesdays)
One-off workshops and series on topics relevant to renewal of the broad church including Contemplation as a Gift to the Church and Reconciling Mission: Being Better Neighbours.

February's humbler church Bigger God programme includes:

Church History course:

A new course providing an introduction to and an overview of church history. If we are to see a humbler Church and a bigger God, we need to deal with the history of the Church to understand where we are now, and why. The course starts on Monday 24 January and runs twice a month at 7.45 pm on Mondays until 25 July (see below for dates and topics). It will be led by Rev Ruth Gouldbourne who has been a Baptist minister for more than 30 years, ministering in churches in Bedford, London and Cheadle Hulme, as well as being a tutor at Bristol Baptist College. An Associate Fellow of Spurgeon's College, she is also Senior Research Fellow of IBTSC Amsterdam, and a Research Fellow of Bristol Baptist College.

The schedule is as follows: Week 1 - Introduction; why church history? Jan 24; Week 2 - The Fathers – who they? Feb 7; Week 3 - Creeds, Councils and Controversies Feb 28; Week 4 - Augustine towers over us all March 14; Week 5 - Christendom; love it or hate it, you need to deal with it March 28; Week 6 - A thousand years when nothing happened April 11; Week 7 - Middle ages; Light April 25; Week 8 - Middle Ages; Dark May 9; Week 9 - Middle Ages; Shadow May 23; Week 10 - Reform of all shapes and sizes June 6; Week 11 - Reason and romanticism June 27; Week 12 - Expansion and disintegration July 11; Week 13 - Reconfiguration – and nothing new under the sun. July 25.

Register for the Zoom link at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/church-history-course-tickets-258950496907.   

Sermon Preparation with Sally Hitchiner and Sam Wells

Tuesdays, 16:30-17:30 GMT live-streamed at https://www.facebook.com/theHeartEdge. Join us for our weekly discussion of the lectionary readings for the coming Sunday with Sam Wells and Sally Hitchiner. Please note that for w/c 6 February the Sermon Preparation Workshop will be on Monday 7 February at 4.30 pm, not on Tuesday.

Community of Practitioners workshop:

Wednesdays at 16:00 (GMT), Zoom meeting. Email jonathan.evens@smitf.org to register. This is a space for practitioners, lay and ordained, to reflect on theology and practice. Each week, we alternate between 'Wonderings' and discussion of a work of theology. Books to be read include ‘The Hidden Wound’ by Wendell Berry and ‘Improvisation’ by Sam Wells. 'Wonderings' help us to reflect and pray on what has stood out for each of us in the last week. Newcomers are very welcome.

Pioneer Practice... In Congregations | Compassion | Culture | Commerce with Jonny Baker and guests

Thursday 3 February, 8.00 pm. Change. Register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/pioneer-practice-tickets-212413463387. As a pioneer you see something - a possibility, an idea, a way that things could be better or new of different. Then you make something happen out of what you see. This webinar series explores over four weeks how pioneering happens in practice. Its focus is how things happen on the ground. Each week Jonny will have two or three guests and get into the gritty day to day of how they pioneer. It’s ideal for you if you have started something or if you have an inkling or an idea you want to explore and get started. It would also be really useful to attend with a couple of others who you might pioneer something with. If you are a church leader it would be great for you too and do think of people in your church who might have the pioneer gift, whether they know it or not, and encourage them to come along. That idea might be starting a new Congregation - the Church of England for example is encouraging every parish to pioneer one. It might also be an idea related to Compassion in your community. It might be related to Commerce as a way of making good in the world through enterprise. Or it might be related to Culture. These are the four Cs of the HeartEdge network. Free! If you can’t make a session, recordings will be made available for those signed up to the series.

Contemplation as a Gift to the Church: Humbler Church, Bigger God

A four week series exploring different examples of how contemplation is a gift to the church. It can sometimes feel like the church is preoccupied with methods of church growth, discussing strategy, developing mission action plans, and resourcing leadership. During lockdowns it fascinating to see the resurgence of contemplative prayer and contemplative practices as people sought new ways to deepen their roots in the Christian faith. Religious community life for centuries has pointed to the riches of the Christian tradition. This series of four Monday afternoons 2-3.30pm will explore four contemplative communities that have emerged in the last decade that seek to anchor people in the roots of the Christian tradition with an openness, a humility and a joy. Come and immerse yourself each week in the charism of a particular community. Come ready to share your experiences of contemplation being a gift to the church.

  • Monday 7 February, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM GMT. Register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/contemplation-as-a-gift-to-the-church-humbler-church-bigger-god-tickets-227021115267. Week One will look at the Nazareth Community and the Companions of Nazareth. The Nazareth Community was established at St Martin’s in March 2018, now with over eighty members. This workshop will be led by Revd Richard Carter and Revd Catherine Duce, and is an opportunity to learn about the life of the community, and to consider how it could be applied in your own contexts. Richard is the leader of the Nazareth Community and author of The City is My Monastery: a Contemporary Rule of Life; published by Canterbury Press in 2019. Revd Catherine Duce is Chaplain to the Companions of Nazareth which is a worldwide worshiping community that gathers online to help people to root their faith and local service in the 7 S's of the Nazareth Community - silence, sacrament, scripture, service, sharing, sabbath and staying with.
  • Monday 14 February, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM GMT. Week two details to follow.
  • Monday 21 February, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM GMT. Register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/contemplation-as-a-gift-to-the-church-humbler-church-bigger-god-tickets-242405931667. Week three focuses on St Thomas' Community in Derby. St Thomas Church is based in the heart of multicultural inner-city Derby. Over the last ten years, as St Thomas church building has been restored, the St Thomas’ Community has emerged. They are a small group exploring a new approach to church based on a deep commitment to prayer, hospitality and mission. St Thomas’ Community are affiliated to the Society of the Holy Trinity. This is an acknowledged Anglican Religious Society which is a community of communities focused on: Working in urban areas, intensifying people’s discipleship, serving the mission of the local church and growing the Kingdom of God. The twelve members of St Thomas’ Community have adopted a rhythm of life based on eight commitments: To prayer and worship; to learning and reconciliation; to service and hospitality; and to work and wellbeing. Presenters: Revd Dr Simon Cartwright – Prior. Passionate about seeking to share the love of God through mission and social justice. Simon has over 25 years experience in urban ministry - starting in regeneration and now as a Prior of the Community. Parish Priest and Area Dean of Derby City. Simon has a particular interest in urban theology, new monasticism and community development. In his spare time he loves working with wood, camping and sitting around a bonfire. Beth Hawkins – Sub Prior. Beth has been part of the St Thomas’ community from its beginning, prompted by her interest in local mission and new monasticism. She has spent that last 5 years working as a stay at home mum to two children. Before that Beth mainly worked in libraries, which happily combined her love of books and desire to help people.
  • Monday 28 February, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM GMT. Register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/contemplation-as-a-gift-to-the-church-humbler-church-bigger-god-tickets-242389342047. It can sometimes feel like the church is preoccupied with methods of church growth, discussing strategy, developing mission action plans, and resourcing leadership. During lockdown it was fascinating to see the resurgence of contemplative prayer and contemplative practices as people sought new ways to deepen their roots in the Christian faith. Religious community life for centuries has pointed to the riches of the Christian tradition. This series of four Monday afternoons 2-3.30pm will explore four contemplative communities that have emerged in the last decade that seek to anchor people in the roots of the Christian tradition with an openness, a humility and a joy. Come and immerse yourself each week in the charism of a particular community. Come ready too to share your experiences of contemplation being a gift to the church. Monday 28 February 2-3.30pm. Week Four will be led by the contemplative worshiping community of Foundation in Bristol. Foundation is a contemplative Christian community in Bristol, within the Anglican tradition. Our worship is shaped by ancient and contemporary sources, ranging from monastic and mystical traditions to creative and multimedia reflections. With a vision to be a Mystical/Contemplative, Socially Engaged, Inclusive and Creative community, we seek to be shaped by, and embody, these values through our shared life together. Contributors: Revd David Stephenson - Priest Accompanier of Foundation Bristol, Co-Interim Area Dean Bristol City Deanery, Vicar of Cotham Parish Church and St Paul’s Clifton. Simon Rotheram - Member of Foundation Bristol.

Being Better Neighbours

Tuesday, 15 February, 2:00pm. Register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/being-better-neighbours-tickets-230437273087. What does it look like for Christians and our churches to be better neighbours to those in our local communities? This conversation will explore how our churches can be good neighbours, including shifting from seeing ourselves as the benefactors of local communities, to being companions, collaborative hosts and recipients of neighbourly love. Thus recognising that the Holy Spirit can work through our neighbours, as much as through confessing Christians, and noticing that the blessing is always two-way. With: Alastair McKay (facilitating), Executive Director, Reconciliation Initiatives; Al Barrett, Vicar of Hodge Hill, Diocese of Birmingham; Ellen Loudon, Director of Social Justice & Canon Chancellor, Liverpool Diocese; Karen Lund, Archdeacon of Manchester, Diocese of Manchester; and Tom Wilson, Director, St Philip’s Centre, Leicester.

Music and Liturgy for Lent

Saturday 19 February, 11:00 – 12:00 GMT, Sacred Trinity Church, Chapel Street, Salford M3 5DW. Register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/music-and-liturgy-for-lent-tickets-230380122147. With Andrew Earis and the HeartEdge Choral Scholars teaching songs, hymns and chants for Lent. Andy Salmon (North West Co-ordinator of HeartEdge and Rector of Sacred Trinity Church will give tips about creative liturgical resources for Lent whilst Andrew Earis (Director of Music at St Martin-in-the-Fields) and the Manchester HeartEdge Choral Scholars will share musical resources to help freshen up your lenten experience. We will be broadcasting on Zoom but people are also welcome to come in person. On 19 March we will run a sister event on Music and Liturgy for Easter.

Theology Group

The St Martin-in-the-Fields and HeartEdge Theology Group provides a monthly opportunity to reflect theologically on issues of today and questions of forever with Sam Wells. Each month Sam responds to questions from a member of the congregation of St Martin-in-the-Fields who also chairs the session and encourages your comments and questions.

Advance dates for Theology Group meetings online are: Feb 20, March 20. On 20 Feb the chair will be Rachel Godden. Register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/theology-group-tickets-248741942847

Find our archive of Living God’s Future Now sessions at - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWUH-ngsbTAKMxCJmoIc7mQ.   

The humbler church Bigger Church series also coincides with the publication of Samuel Wells, 'Humbler Faith, Bigger God: Finding a Faith to Live By', a major new articulation of the Christian faith that sees criticism as a gift to foster renewal. https://canterburypress.hymnsam.co.uk/books/9781786224187/humbler-faith-bigger-god (Pub date 29 April 2021)

“I’m not sure who else alive could have written this book. Scholars are not usually this accessible. Pastors not usually this sharp-eyed. Critics not usually this devastating. Advocates not usually so beautiful. This unusual book calls to mind Augustine’s heart, Aquinas’s mind, Day’s activism, Temple’s leadership. You say I exaggerate? Take up and read before you tell me I’m wrong.”

— Jason Byassee, Butler Professor of Homiletics and Biblical Hermeneutics at Vancouver School of Theology