Read / Feature

The story of Multiply Estates Mission 2024

A summary of all that took place as over 200 lay and ordained leaders came together for the second ever Multiply Estates Mission gathering.

‘Isaiah tells us the fasting God desires, for us to loose the bonds of injustice, to break the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, to feed the hungry, to house the homeless. We are called to bring a message of hope from the God of justice to those held down on our estates by poverty, by oppressive systems, by a skewed culture that affords privilege and opportunity to the few and deep disadvantage to many.’

It was with these ancient words of Isaiah that Lynne Cullens, Bishop of Barking and Chair of the National Estate Churches Network (NECN), kicked off Multiply Estates Mission 2024. Her talk marked a renewal and encouragement of a call shared by those 200 lay and ordained leaders gathered at St Barnabas North London for a time of worship, learning and networking. 

‘If we want to grow a Church that is younger and more diverse, then our estate and low-income neighbourhoods are where that investment of gifts and resource should be made,’ said Bishop Lynne. ‘We need a generation of leaders on our estates who are either from those communities themselves, or who come in and see themselves as gateways and not gate keepers. Those prepared to raise up, those who see their role as the giving away of power, those whose legacy is a Jesus-shaped community of faith, discipled by local leadership, framed by the culture of the context.’

This was the second Multiply Estates Mission conference of CCX, hosted by Helen Shannon and Ash Chafe of the Estates Mission Team and made possible thanks to the partnership and support of organisations who share in this ministry. Delegates were able to network with and draw on resources from Jesus Shaped People, Kids Matter, NECN, New Wine, The Message Trust and Proximity, a new urban mission resource hub from The Message.

Sam Ward, UK CEO of The Message Trust, offered a compelling reality check in the day’s first keynote talk, sharing that even after 20 years of following his calling, he can still feel discouragement. Drawing on the story of the Feeding the 5,000, Sam noted that even though Jesus was seeking a moment of escape, he was struck by compassion upon seeing the needs of the following crowd.

‘Jesus is moved by compassion. Pity weeps and walks away, compassion comes to help and to stay. Pity flees, it is momentary. Compassion stays, even when it is really, really hard,’ shared Sam. ‘Being compassionate is to be intimately involved. It requires time, and is deeply costly, to move close to those in pain and suffering. I’d want to run away, but Jesus moves towards.

‘We are shown comfort and compassion so that we might show it to those around us… God wants to reveal his mercy, his comfort, his grace and compassion, through those who recognise their brokenness. In their brokenness they depend on God. The merciful are those who have experienced mercy. The comforters are those who have experienced the comfort of God.’

The sense of drawing on God’s compassion to be ‘in it for the long haul’ was echoed by Andy Winmill, Director of Mission Support from the Church of England in Birmingham in his keynote talk. Andy turned to Mark 14:32-36 to highlight the circles of relationship which Jesus drew on in a time of great need: a circle of friends for support and prayer, a smaller inner circle of trusted close friends, and a central support of God.

‘We’re supposed to put ourselves in positions where we recognise our need for other people,’ encouraged Andy. ‘The friends are important, but they’re not enough. They fall asleep. Jesus can share to a degree with his friends. But he shares so vulnerably with his Father.’ 

Andy Winmill also took part in a panel discussion, which saw delegates put their questions to experienced practitioners, including Maureen Clemetson, a community youth leader from north London, Emma Hodge, Children and Families Lead, Hope North London and Alan Moss, Associate and Pioneer Priest of St Mary’s Church, Walthamstow. Each panellist shared wisdom and encouragement, several drawing on the recurring theme of the need to help those living and serving on estates to identify their own calling. 

‘Create a culture where everybody has a part to play,’ said Emma. ‘Whether it’s serving on the door or serving coffee. We should be spotting potential, consciously looking for what people are bringing. It’s on us to help them identify their call.’

The programme concluded with a time of worship and ministry, facilitated by members of church@five, the church of Helen Shannon based at the Strawberry Vale estate of East Finchley. Delegates were invited forward for prayer and to receive a sacramental-like offering of a key on a cross-shaped keyring – a simple representation of being given keys to the kingdom on the communities they represented.

‘Watching my team from church@five minister was one of the most moving aspects of the day for me,’ said Helen Shannon. ‘To see them pray and prophesy over people with such authority. There was notable growth within them from when they led ministry at last year’s gathering, they were really going for it! Sometimes we’ve got to push people out of their comfort zones, invite them onto a bigger stage in a bigger place and watch God do his work in them.’

If you were inspired by the events of Multiply Estates Mission 2024 and want to know more about how you could start a new worshipping community in this context, the Estates Mission team would love to hear from you. You can visit their webpage, or contact them directly via