After 25 years of urban mission in Melbourne and Bangkok, Ash Barker with wife Anji and son Aiden are now immersed in the life of Winson Green, Birmingham, where they have founded and lead Newbigin House. Ash was the founding director of Urban Neighbours of Hope, and is the current director of Micah Global’s International Society for Urban Mission.
Ash has been invited to reflect on the question: what have you learned about the nature of incarnational missional communities through your time in Bangkok? How might these insights both shape and challenge our approach to mission in a city like Bristol?
The event takes place on 2nd November, 2 – 4.30pm at Lawrence Weston Baptist Church, BS110QP.
Tickets are free to book but we ask for a £5 donation on the day.
We recently hosted an inspiring ‘Hearts and Minds’ day conference, in conjunction with Regent’s and South Wales Baptist Colleges. We heard some excellent papers from ministerial and other colleagues who are engaged in ongoing research and reflection.
A personal highlight for me (and I was unable to attend all the papers, due to parallel sessions) included a paper on disability theology by Revd Martin Hobgen, who drew our attention to the historic shifts in societal attitudes towards disability, and offered a theology of friendship as a possible paradigm for a more inclusive church.
The keynote address was given by Revd Dr Ian Stackhouse, who reflected with honesty and clarity on a family encounter with dementia, and offered theological insights around the issues of presence and personhood in this context.
The conference was well-attended, and a straw poll at the end of the day indicated a definite appetite for another one next summer. Watch this space!
Revd Dr Helen Paynter
Coordinator, Community Learning
On Saturday 11th June the college held its annual valedictory service where we celebrate and send out our leaving students. We had a wonderful morning hearing about their achievements, and although we’ll miss them all very much we’re incredibly proud of every single one of them. Have a look at some of the photos from the day below.
I am very excited to say that things are firming up for our Hearts and Minds conference in early June. It looks like a fascinating day – we have papers on church hopping; theology of friendship and disability; and how to disciple post-moderns, among others – plus of course our fantastic keynote speaker Ian Stackhouse reflecting on personhood and dementia.
It’s not too late to submit a paper – see the event page for more details. To book your place at the conference email email@example.com by 22nd May. The conference is free to attend, and lunch costs £5 or feel free to bring your own.
For the last few years, BCYM have been involved in the delivery of the Youth and Children’s Work South West Conference, in Exeter. This year, on our seventh year of running we decided to do something a bit different, and instead of running a conference, we ran a retreat. The theme was ‘Untitled’ – a day to leave behind all the labels that can end up defining both ourselves and our ministry, and find space to seek the presence of God in order to be refreshed for our life of service for Him.
During the day there was a variety of workshops, seminars, worship streams and labyrinth-style spaces to choose from, both indoors and outside. We created six spaces, designed so that everyone could meet with God in a way that suited them. The spaces were;
HEAD SPACE – challenging and engaging Bible teaching to help us re-discover the majesty and wonder of God, and develop intimacy with Him. PRAYER SPACE – individual ‘prayer pods’ containing things to help you reconnect with God through prayer and reflection. CREATIVE SPACE – a variety of expert-led, interactive and creative presentations using art, photography and poetry to help explore God’s character. JOURNEY SPACE – a variety of ‘stations’ designed to help us connect with God through prayer and contemplation. LISTENING SPACE – a chance to meet with an experienced and trained listener if anyone wanted help with any aspect of their life or ministry. DISCUSSION SPACE – an opportunity to discuss issues relating to the theme of the day.
Dylan Barker from Frontier Youth Trust and myself, facilitated the Journey Space. We had a range of stations helping people reflect on their roles, job titles, how to balance and juggle differing roles, the labels young people are given, the labels we give ourselves and our communities, and a chance to think about how God sees us. It was amazing to see so many people make use of the space to chill out, reflect and spend time with God.
For me, the highlight of the day was hearing from poet, writer and retreat leader Ian Adams. Ian spoke brilliantly in the morning about what retreat is, and then led some creative workshops throughout the day on photography, poetry and doodling or mark making. As a creative I really enjoyed his tips and tricks about how to use these methods to spend time with God.
It was a fantastic day, and genuinely the best youth retreat I’ve ever been involved with. I hope we do it all again next year!
On the third week of each month we review an event that we’ve attended recently. This month Jo Dolby shares some reflections on the recent CYM Staff Conference.
The beginning of February saw our annual CYM staff conference. This is where CYM staff from across our five UK centres gather together to plan, dream, learn and catch up. It’s always a highlight for me as it’s one of the only times in the year when all the CYM staff are together in one place. It’s inspiring to hear what other centres are doing, great to have some space from the daily routine and exciting to dream about the future as we look to expand and improve both the training we offer and the ways in which we can offer it.
On the first day we heard an update from each CYM centre, and we had Mike Pears from Urban Life delivering two keynote sessions to the academic faculty. Mike has done a fascinating PhD and presented some of his findings. He helped us reflect on the changing cultural landscape we are in and what the implications of this are for mission, and for how we train people to do mission. Mike spoke about placing our bibles on our map, reflecting theologically about place and space to enable us to understand what’s happening and how to respond to it. The evening allowed some much needed pub time, and it was great to have some time to socialise with everyone.
On day two we got down to discussing some important things – where CYM currently is, the challenges we face and the opportunities we have for research and development. Jo Whitehead from Midlands CYM led a really interesting session on visual facilitation skills, challenging us to use more visual methods in our lectures. Sam Richards from Oxford CYM gave a really helpful keynote on academic feedback – thinking about what we say to students about their work and how we can say it better. It was helpful to be given some new methods and words to clarify and sharpen our feedback, which is such an important part of how students learn and develop.
It was a really positive two days, where I was reminded of how unique CYM’s training is, as well as how many incredible and knowledgeable people we have across the CYM faculty and how privileged I feel to be part of it all. It’s made me excited about the year ahead and all the things God has in store for us. Watch this space!
Youth Work Conference; blink and you missed it. A weekend filled with worship, teachings and encouragement.
Arriving and setting up our beautiful pink stall, we thought as a team, we better brush up on the course portfolios. After a quick test on what course offers which topics, and of course with our CYM hoodies on, we were ready to engage with passers-by and other youth workers. It was an encouragement to speak to people about their chance to study further, and see the surprise on their face when they realised its never too late to return to study. Also, with other stalls surrounding us, it was a fun time to get to know their charities and projects. The hall was a witness to God’s amazing love and action in our world.
Following an empowering talk on leadership and the young people’s potential, we grouped back at the stall and began to show people the opportunities there were in studying the many different courses. With Josh’s amazing pitching skills and compliments to the masses, we had a great first evening talking about CYM.
Waking up slightly less fresh the next morning, we were primed and ready for another morning of inspiring youth workers to study. As I held the fort, the others disappeared to see our amazing lecturer Jo Dolby in action.
By the afternoon, my pitching skills were flagging, and I was glad that Josh and Adele replaced my seat at the stall with energy and passion. Another encouraging talk and worship session, and now it was pub quiz time.
Hours later, and we had soon realised our calling was not the the ministry of general knowledge quizzes… Last place.
Sunday. The final day, with the wind rattling through the marquee and everyone now looking like zombies from lack of sleep; we pulled on our CYM hoodies and caught the crowds as they filed into the Big Tent for worship. It was a good time to engage with others about their chances to deepen their knowledge in Youth Work, followed by standing with them in worship and with communion.
Followed by the chore of packing up and saying our goodbyes. The weekend was all over too quickly, and it was goodbye for another year. A special weekend, sharing in God’s mission for us, and witness his love as we met together as a nationwide team of youth workers.
Bex – Year 1 CYM Student
Check out this video of some of the highlights of the event:
On June 20th Jo travelled to Tonbridge, Kent to speak at the annual Youthwork Summit. The event attracts around 800 Christian youth workers from around the country, to hear 20 speakers giving short talks on a variety of topics. This year the theme was ‘The Way Back’, exploring the things that need to change; the new things we need to embrace and the old ways we need to cease, if we’re going to reverse the decline in Christian youth work.
Jo spoke about a project she is involved in called Re:verse. Re:verse is a spoken word poetry project for young people, run from an arts focused, local authority youth centre in Bath. The project aims to help young people with their English skills, self esteem and confidence, as well as giving them a healthy outlet for their emotions. Jo gave three lessons learned from running the project, and also brought two young poets with her to perform specially written poems, both of which blew the room away!