In 2013, the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North, told the General Synod about his former parish on a large Hartlepool estate, which had been vacant for more than two years.
“Compare that with a recent vacancy in a richly endowed parish near Paddington, which attracted 123 firm applicants, and you will see the true measure of the spiritual health of the Church of England,” he said.
Five years later, he believes that, after years of being complicit in the abandonment of estates, the Church of England is “back”.
“The Holy Spirit is doing amazing things on the estates of this nation, and we are joining in,” he told a meeting of the National Estate Churches Network at St Francis at the Engine Room, on Wednesday.
Launching a strategy that includes an aspiration to have a “thriving, growing, loving church on every significant estate in the country”, he highlighted new church-plants, including Freedom Church, planted by St Paul’s, Marton, on the Mereside estate in Blackpool (News 4 August 2017); Oldhams Church, in Bolton (News 11 May); and St Cuthman’s, on the Whitehawk estate in Brighton (News 11 November 2016).
Recent visits to theological colleges had left him “overwhelmed by the enthusiasm that many of them have to serve in areas of deprivation”.
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