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Cultivating mission in marginalised places 

Urban Life, a new urban mission and training initiative, has ‘well and truly launched’

Urban Life launch2Dozens of people gathered recently in St Mark’s Baptist Church in Bristol to celebrate the official start of Urban Life, which aims to deliver training for innovative and pioneering approaches to ministry and mission in marginalised places.

Urban Life has been formed by Bristol Baptist College, Urban Expression, BMS World Mission and the Baptist Union, with the latter providing much of the funding.

It is facilitated by Mike Pears, accredited Baptist minister and member of an Urban Expression team in Bristol.

Those gathered at St Marks were drawn from Bristol churches involved in creative urban mission, both Baptist and Anglican. There were representatives from the Baptist colleges in both Bristol and Manchester.

Over an evening of food, liturgy and worship, connections were made and ideas shared.

‘It was a celebration of inclusivity,’ said Mike ‘an evening full of fun and rich experience and we feel well and truly "launched".’  

Urban Life launch1Mike (pictured right) describes Urban Life as ‘a network of people exploring and researching new approaches to mission and Christian presence in deprived and marginalised urban neighbourhoods.’

Once fully up and running this network will facilitate training to enable groups to learn in their own context. It will also provide consultation and training support for churches and associations that are planning to develop mission initiatives in marginalised places.

‘For example, if a team in Birmingham is just launching, we can work with them there, on that estate or neighbourhood,’ said Mike. ‘We are shifting the centre of gravity away from colleges and seminar rooms.

‘We might be working with Associations, or alongside colleges who have students looking to engage with a marginalised estate. It all will be in their context.’

Urban LifeThe home page of the website is live, and over the next couple of months much more detail will be added. With supporting Masters and PhD research another of Urban Life’s aims, the website will in time become a rich source of information and material for those involved in urban mission.

‘We seek to connect the raw experience of life in these overlooked areas with theological thinking and reflection,’ added Mike. ‘We are exploring what it means to follow Jesus in troubled places and understand how a Jesus-centred presence might bring a fresh imagination for life in contemporary urban areas.’

At this stage Mike is keen to hear from anyone interested. ‘We want connections and conversations with people interested in mission in marginalised places, so do get in touch!’

Sign up for Urban Life news, a monthly mailing at www.urbanlife.org

Contact Mike: mpears@urbanlife.org

Urban Life is developing the habit of 'hearing the question' rather than 'finding the answer.' Watch a short film of this in action from the launch night. http://youtu.be/VmfkPl6CI5c

Urban Life has organised a seminar later this month witth John Hayes entitled God Has a Right Brain: An Artist Living in the Margins Calls for Creative Incarnational Ministry. It takes place at 43 Station Road, Shirehampton, BS11 9TU, Bristol from 7-9.30pm on Thursday 23 October.

Picture credits: Chris Dobson


Baptist Times, 08/10/2014
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