REVITALISE Magazine | Edition 004

Page 1

Edition 4

Stories of Hope


December 2020

PIONEERING in a Pandemic




Updates from across the Network



A snapshot of our family of churches


There’s a CHANGE Coming

After a year of global disruptions, Nicky Gumbel shares how we need to reorder our priorities



How will the Church be different after Covid-19? The Bishop of London and Guvna B give their thoughts



LOVE Your Neighbour

What began as an emergency response to the Covid-19 crisis in March, has since grown to be a national campaign involving hundreds of other churches and organisations. Here’s what’s happened...


PIONEERING in a Pandemic

The buildings were closed, but the Church is alive. We take a look at some of the ways Network churches adapted and innovated in 2020


Training LEADERS

New Caleb Stream aims to revitalise rural ministry; Peter Stream ordinand Jamie Sewell shares his story, and top 5 reads and podcasts to keep on track



Joel Sales shares his vision for the newly restored Pattern Church in Swindon

42 Welcome

UNDER the Bonnet

‘ Have we begun to witness an unprecedented move of God’s Spirit?’, asks Sarah Jackson, CEO of CRT


Nicky & Pippa Gumbel

Archie & Sam Coates

In 1985 HTB PIONEERED its first church ‘plant’ to St Barnabas, West Kensington at the invitation of the Bishop of Kensington. Around 100 members of HTB’s congregation went with John and Andy Irvine to start a new church community which went on to grow and plant more churches of its own. It was the first of many such plants in the London Diocese and beyond. Now HTB and its plants have partnered with bishops and dioceses to plant over 90 churches – and more congregations are being birthed each year.


In 2017, the Church Revitalisation Trust (CRT) was set up by HTB to be a catalyst for this momentum of church planting and we are delighted to see churches that are empty or closing being brought back to life, introducing people to Jesus and changing lives. We are so excited to be part of a growing network of churches all playing our part in the evangelisation of the nation, the revitalisation of the Church and the transformation of society. Together, especially in these hugely challenging times, we believe that we can play a part in bringing new hope to our nation through seeing communities transformed in the name of Jesus. Thank you so much for your support. Love,

Nicky and Pippa Gumbel Vicar of HTB and Chair of CRT

How are YOU? As a Network, in one sense we’ve been more disconnected in 2020 than in previous years because we’ve not been able to meet up at the Leadership Conference or Focus this year. However, in another sense one of the effects of Covid-19 has actually been to draw us closer together as a movement of churches, because we’re all navigating many of the same challenges and opportunities, and there’s a special solidarity and unity in that. Many of the different ministry leaders, such as worship, youth and kids, as well as the senior leaders, are now in much more regular contact with one another than we were twelve months ago, sharing best practice and encouragement. It is extraordinary that while the country has been in lockdown, the Church has actually expanded across the nation, and this edition of Revitalise is full of remarkable reports of church planting, Love Your Neighbour, and life-transforming responses to the pandemic. It is, considering all that’s going on in the world, a hugely encouraging and uplifting read. Thank you for the part you are playing.


With love,

Archie and Sam Coates HTB Network and Vicar of St. Peter’s Brighton

Editorial 5


Network Highlights



Eight New Church Plants Declare Hope Across the UK

Alex and Laura Rayment launched a new City Centre Resource Church in September 2020. It wasn’t the start they intended; we asked Alex what it’s been like to plant a church during a global pandemic and how it’s realigned his vision for the future. We moved to Liverpool right in the midst of the crisis. Exploring a new city in lockdown is difficult; it’s hard to meet people, and 99% of church planting is meeting people and understanding the culture. Our motto has been: ‘Plan for a week, prepare for a fortnight and dream for a month’, because at the moment, we have to be really flexible.

Eight New Church Plants Declare Hope Across the UK

St Barnabas Penny Lane, Liverpool

Liverpool is a very Christianised city. Many people will say that they are a Christian because their Grandfather was or because they support a certain football team. We are having to help people understand that we are not planting something like ‘the old thing’, we are planting something new. Our church in the past has been known as a ‘Prayer Book’ church so even adjusting the view that I am not the vicar of a ‘Prayer Book’ church is huge. We currently have 33 people on Alpha which is amazing. On top of this, we are planting a service online even before we have a building. We have a responsibility to serve people, so we are delivering kids packs to families and social events online. I am totally humbled by it all. People are committing to Penny Lane before being able to come in person. It’s amazing.


Covid-19 has realigned our vision for social transformation. Social transformation shouldn’t be an outhouse ministry, it should be the operating system. Before Covid-19, we had already decided to employ someone to take a lead on social action, and it’s great that they had something to do from day one! It’s also realigned our vision to love. We know that a lot of the people hurting most from Covid-19 are the people who are already marginalised; those with chronic health conditions, those on the poverty line and those who, for many reasons, can’t be physically distant from others. Everyone suffers from Covid-19 but not everyone gets better from it. This has realigned our vision for Liverpool that those on the edges come into the centre. I’ve always been challenged to try to love the people on the outside with the ‘in-crowd’ kind of love. This intimate love should be experienced by someone who has just walked into a church with nothing to give. It’s also realigned our understanding of the things we are called to do. The things that feel strange on Zoom, are strange for a reason. Praying, laying hands on one another, singing, etc are meant to be done together – we are called to sacrificially wash each other’s feet and eat with each other. Covid-19 is forcing us to sit in the awkward.

Network Highlights

Head to to watch our interview with Alex Find out more about what’s going on at St Barnabas, Penny Lane at

A Year in Numbers

New churches planted

Students graduated from St Mellitus College Prisons around the UK streamed Alpha into prison cells

Students accessed Theology at St Mellitus College

A Year in Numbers

Network Highlights

8 50 98 195 821 1,000


Partner organisations involved in Love Your Neighbour

Churches in the HTB Network

Phone calls made nationally to people in isolation

Watched the UK Blessing organised by Tim Hughes and the Love Your Neighbour Network


3,400 15,000 15,000 50,000 4,000,000 4,100,000

Teenagers engaged with Focus Alive

Couples signed up to The Marriage and The Pre-Marriage Courses worldwide

A Year in Numbers

Online Alpha courses run globally

Meals donated through Love Your Neighbour to those who need it most

Network Highlights

Global Snippets from 2020 14

Where We Are

Vintage Church LA

St Jax Montreal

Launched in 2011 by Pastor Ger Jones, Vintage Church is based in 4 locations: Santa Monica, West LA, Malibu and Pasadena.

Since reopening in 2015, St Jax – in partnership with 3 other churches – now run 6 Sunday services for over 400 people.

Since Covid-19, Vintage have launched monthly Alpha courses, and The Marriage Course online series with many couples investing in their relationship weekly. They’ve also seen countless lives being touched through Love Your Neighbour and have been able to support some of the most vulnerable in their community at this.

Led by Graham Singh, the church is celebrating their 10th Alpha Course and 4th Marriage Course in English, French, Farsi and Cantonese. Free Covid-19 testing, a community circus company and a major refugee charity also share the church space.

Global Snippets from 2020

GLOBAL SNIPPETS FROM 2020 At the invitation of the local bishop and diocese, CRT is planting, partnering and helping to revitalise the global church. We are so encouraged to hear of lives transformed among our global family of churches.


Holy Trinity Bukit Bintang

Renewal Church was planted in 2018 by Chris and Abi Arnold. Central to Renewal has been caring for the most vulnerable in Nairobi.

Led by Miles and Sarah Toulmin, Holy Trinity Bukit Bintang (HTBB) was the first plant outside the UK in 2014.

AJAR (Africa Justice and Restoration Project), is a legal aid project to see innocent people released from prison, and Rejesha (which means ‘to restore’) is a ministry working with sex workers. Over the past year, they’ve given 4,000 masks into prisons and courts to help keep the justice system running, and a bail fund to allow people better access to legal care who were being wrongly detained.

It is a regional resourcing hub for Alpha, theological training and has a vision to plant a further 5 churches into key cities across South East Asia. The HTBB Foodbank supports about 120 refugee families every week and has distributed over 12 tonnes of food during the pandemic. Alpha Online is running in 19 countries throughout Asia, and HTBB continues to release worship music in English and Mandarin. The first 7 ordinands through SPTC recently got ordained and the college now offers a Masters programme too.

Where We Are

Renewal Church Nairobi



2020 has been a year of global disruptions. In an extract from a talk given in July, Nicky Gumbel, vicar of HTB, explores the opportunity we have to reorder our priorities, and why justice needs to be central as we reshape the church for the future.

Racism is not a black or brown issue, it’s a HUMAN issue, a GOSPEL issue. In Amos 5:24, the prophet says this: ‘But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!’ For the Israelites, these words came as an unexpected disruption. The country seemed to be in a stable place; King Jeroboam II had turned the economy around and Assyria, the arch enemy of Israel was distracted by internal politics. The Israelites felt safe and secure. But then, a disruption came in the form of the prophet, Amos – a shepherd, with a message from God. He said this:

Now, of course there is nothing wrong with worship. The Bible talks about the beauty and importance of worship, but in this passage, Amos is urging a reordering of their priorities and I think that’s what we have to do now. In the same way that these words were a disruption for the Israelites, both Covid-19 and the brutal killing of George Floyd in May have been an unprecedented disruption for us all. We now have an opportunity to rethink our priorities and to pivot around this theme of justice and righteousness. Amos preaches against oppression and the exploitation of the poor. Our world – right now – also faces great injustices. Martin Luther King described poverty as a monstrous octopus that spreads its tentacles all over the world.

In the UK, this year, 1.5 million people have gone a day without food because they simply cannot afford it. In Preston, the Love Your Neighbour team came across a 49-year-old disabled man who was sucking on a teabag because he was so desperate. I read that a woman in Scotland, 94 years of age, was found by the Salvation Army. She’d gone five days without food. Over the summer, 2,500 children were admitted to our hospitals suffering from severe malnutrition. This is shocking. We need an all-out war against poverty, and that’s why your involvement in Love Your Neighbour has been amazing. Between you, you have served over four million meals to people who were hungry; you have provided hot meals to NHS workers on the front line; you’ve delivered medicines to people who needed them; made phone calls to people who were vulnerable and helped people with debt counselling. Thousands of you have given of your time and prayers. You’ve been involved in this battle against injustice. You are letting justice roll like a river.


‘I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religious projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making… I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice – oceans of it. I want fairness – rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want.’ Amos 5:21–24

The Future of The Church

My father practised as a barrister in Nazi Germany. In 1933, he was disbarred and stopped from practising because he was Jewish. Many of his family were taken away to concentration camps. But no one spoke out. My father was a secular agnostic Jew by race, but he always admired Dietrich Bonhoeffer, because he was one of the few Christians who did speak out against the abhorrent evil of racism.

And many of you are engaged in the battle against racism. We have all had to acknowledge our part. We have all had to educate ourselves, auditing our churches and changing the leadership structures.

Injustice ANYWHERE is a threat to justice EVERYWHERE. We need to continue to speak out at this time. Does this mean we’re ignoring other issues? No. Martin Luther King said: ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ But right now, we are at a historic moment. This is a moment where there is an opportunity to change, and the church must take the lead.

This article is an extract from a talk given to the HTB Network on July 26th, 2020.

There’s a Change Coming

My appeal to all of you today is let’s never give up on this fight. Let’s not be satisfied until justice rolls like a river, justice like a mighty stream. Until one day we all stand before Jesus from every tribe, people and language, loved by God, redeemed by Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, a beautiful diverse church.

The Future of The Church

How has Covid-19 changed the future of the church? Bishop Sarah answers: Large parts of 2020 have been a difficult time. A time of suffering, a time of mourning. But it has also been a time of re-imagining. In the midst of the storm I have had the privilege to catch sight of the movement of the Holy Spirit. I have seen it in the way the churches have stepped up and stepped out into their communities, providing food and help. I have seen it in the way churches have gone online and have met the needs of those who don’t normally connect with church. The prophet Isaiah writes ‘See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up. Do you not perceive it?’


I don’t know how long we will all take to recover but I do know that we will not and should not simply go back to what was before. We may have got close to taking some things for granted, such as how precious our corporate worship is to us and our people. We are not taking that for granted any longer. To ‘seek and to save that which is lost’ requires intent. Innovation is not the preserve of some churches in some traditions but part of what we all need to be doing week in and week out. Clarity and simplicity is important. I perceive that for many churches what lies ahead could be to just focus on one or two things to which God has called that community at this time.

See, I AM DOING A NEW THING. Now it springs up. Do you not perceive it?

There’s Big Questions a Change Coming

Isaac Borquaye answers: One of the many sad things about Covid-19 is seeing the church buildings emptier than they normally are. Church isn’t just a building, it’s the people, but these architectural wonders are a symbol of our commitment as the church to be representatives of Jesus in our local communities, and provide a space for people to gather together.

We need church to be a HOME for the MARGINALISED and those who seek safety. During this period we have found ways to build deeper connections with people. Post-Covid-19, I would love to see church buildings become a home for the marginalised and those who seek safety. There was a church close to the council estate I grew up on. We were welcome on Sundays to worship, but during the week it was closed. I look back now and can’t help but think they missed a trick. My area was plagued with youth violence and when government cuts took the last youth club we had, we resorted to hanging around on the streets without much to do. I wonder how many lives could have been saved if that local church opened its doors on days other than a Sunday? Post-Covid-19 I’d love for us to contextualize this. What are the needs of your local area? Do the kids need a safe space during half terms and evenings? Does the community need a food bank? Do widows and orphans need to connect with other people? So often we can ask ourselves how we will reach the next generation but that may be where we’re going wrong. We haven’t even reached this generation. The youngest Millennial is 26 today and I’m sure most of us know a 26-year-old who is searching for more or disenfranchised with church. One of my favourite pictures of the church are ancient cathedrals. The average cathedral took 200 years to build, which meant the people who started building them wouldn’t have been alive to see them come to fruition. They knew what they were building though, so it didn’t matter. Post-Covid-19, the next generation will be fine if we start building and reaching people now.

Head to to watch our interview with Isaac

My prayers are with you as we continue to respond courageously to the strange circumstances that will be unfolding through the year. However, we hold on to the fact that Christ is among us, alongside us, teaching, healing, crucified, dying and risen. The Gospel tells us that God‘s presence is constant, and God’s sustaining love is inexhaustible. At a time when many are more exhausted and anxious than ever. I pray that His presence and love will help us to keep perceiving His ways to share the hope of the resurrection with the world.

How will the church reach the next generation in a post-Covid-19 world?

The Future of The Church

BIG The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally and Award-winning rapper and author, Isaac Borquaye, also known as Guvna B, address the place of the church post-Covid-19.


Questions Big Questions


We distributed the boxes of food to all those in need on that very day. We also set up telephone support systems so we could keep in touch with the lonely, and organised volunteers to help deliver medicines to people who were shielding from over 50 local pharmacies, and Love Your Neighbour grew from there.

As Love Your Neighbour began to gain traction, other denominations and cities started to join in.

“ WE RAISED £10,000 OVER A WEEKEND AND SPENT ALL OF IT ON A FOOD ORDER, WITHOUT BEING SURE WHO WE WOULD DISTRIBUTE IT TO, OR HOW.” Seeing churches from all corners of England come together for a common cause has been hugely exciting. Within our alliance is the Salvation Army, Pentecostal churches, New Frontiers, The Coptic Orthodox Church, Hillsong and many others. We are now a network of over 300 churches and I really believe that our tagline – ‘We’re in this Together’ – perfectly encapsulates how it feels to be a part of Love Your Neighbour.

Love Your Neighbour

Within a week, churches across the HTB Network joined together to see if we could start similar food hubs in cities across the UK. Generous benefactors gave us grants to help churches get started and we began to build relationships with the Government and the food industry to increase the supply of resources.

In September, the Government announced it had chosen Love Your Neighbour as a partner to help ensure provision continues to be provided to the vulnerable over the next 12 months. So far, our churches have delivered over 4 million meals to people in need and we plan to see that increase together with providing people with the practical debt, employment and other support they need to get back on top of their situations.


At HTB, we formed a partnership with a food wholesaler to prioritise food for the vulnerable. We raised £10,000 over a weekend and then spent all of it on a food order, without being sure who we would distribute it to or how. We felt we had to take a step of faith and see how God led us. On the morning the food arrived, we received a call from our site on the Dalgarno estate in North Kensington to say the local food banks had closed down and 70 households were left with no means of getting food. Could we help?

The need is such that no church or network can meet it on its own; but if churches across the nation come together, then we can make a significant difference.

CEO of Love Your Neighbour, Tom Jackson

In March, as the Covid-19 pandemic became progressively worse, many in our congregations started to ask how we could support people in need. A particular concern was how to get food and medicines to those who were isolated and alone. Shelves were bare and supermarkets were unable to deliver to new customers.

A Conversation with CEO, Tom Jackson


Love Your Neighbour City Hubs



Through our 52 City Hubs, volunteer teams are delivering food to people in crisis; women refugees, the homeless, vulnerable families and others. Here’s a snapshot of what’s been happening across the UK.

Holy Trinity Brompton Crosslight debt relief Carol* is a young client who has debts due to her bipolar health condition which has led to episodes where she does not pay bills and spends too much money. Working with Love Your Neighbour, Crosslight identified that she was not on the right benefits, and helped her to apply for council tax benefit. We asked for this benefit to be backdated on medical grounds – which should clear her council tax debt in full.

St Mary’s Andover Phoning the isolated We’ve been working with the local NHS and GP surgeries in Andover to support those who’ve been isolated in our community. We created the ‘Phone Friends’ project that connects patients, referred by local GP surgeries, with members of our community for a weekly phone call One recipient said it was an opportunity to talk ‘about anything and everything’. At its heart, the project aims to connect those who feel isolated with the outside world. It has been a privilege to care for our community in this way!

Love Your Neighbour

Preston Minster Help for the vulnerable Yesterday I called John*, a 49-year-old man with severe disabilities who hasn’t left his home in five years. With no family or friends to help him, he relies on a weekly food delivery. When the lockdown started the demand for online deliveries meant that he couldn’t order food, and so he relied on water and sucking on used teabags. In the end, he called the police and they called us. Due to his very specific dietary requirements they didn’t know if we could help, but thankfully we could. On the phone, I recall him saying: ‘I thought I had been forgotten and that I was going to die alone.’

Harbour Church, Portsmouth Fast delivery online care packages We’ve noticed that for some people it can be difficult to approach our foodbank because of feelings of shame. With this in mind, we’ve set up an online link that people can click on anytime of the day or night and can request either a food parcel, or a care package aimed at teenagers, students or families, with details of how the church and other local agencies can support them. We also wanted to make it possible for our team to deliver within 24 hours, otherwise people may feel like it wasn’t worth being in touch.

A resident in local sheltered accommodation received a Bag of Blessing from the church. They shared this: ‘The gift bag arrived on a day I was very low and depressed. It reminded me of the fact the Lord walks with me and that I am loved.’

Love Your Neighbour City Hubs

Holy Trinity Hastings Delivering ‘Bags of Blessing’

Gas Street, Birmingham Befriending Project So far, we’ve made over 450 befriending phone calls, to lonely and isolated members of our community. Our wonderful team of volunteer befrienders have been phoning people up weekly, some for 28 weeks now and we’re seeing such encouraging and fruit-filled stories through the befriending project.


Causeway Coastal Vineyard Providing affordable food A single mother received help from the foodbank when she had to stop her part-time caring job due to Covid-19. We connected her with the RESET Social Supermarket programme that gives people access to lower cost food whilst supporting them with finance and future stability advice. The mother was also having issues with her car and says she was only able to fix it because of the savings she had made from being a part of the RESET programme.

Love Your Neighbour

The Story So Far


HTB mobilises a task force to work on a local response to the crisis, named Love Your Neighbour and CRT gives seed funding to 10 Network churches to launch their own crisis response.

Delivery of hot meals begin to hospitals and care homes, while volunteers work with local pharmacies to deliver medicines to shielding people at home.

Over 100 churches now partner with Love Your Neighbour; multiple hubs are awarded DEFRA funding for food distribution; young cyclists raise money for the cause. Love Your Neighbour begin working with working with local GPs to mobilise volunteers for befriending; partnership with the Felix project to help re-distribute surplus food which was supposed to go to landfill.


Love Your Neighbour partners with Woman Refugee Centre and Wand UK – a charity which supports vulnerable women, to provide them with female hygiene products.

Partnership with the Lockdown Hunger Campaign to support children who would be on free school meals during the summer.

Awarded DCMS funding alongside Comic Relief and other charities; selected to take part in The Massive Get Together, a national online fundraising event.

Love Your Neighbour partners with CAP, Crosslight, Resurgo Re-work and many other charities to focus on money advice, employment and food support.

Love Your Neighbour

Love Your Neighbour is now a coalition of 290 churches and 1,000 other organisations to continue to support and care for those in need in our society.

Love Christmas is launched, a campaign to distribute 1 million boxes of hope to people in need across the UK during December.

The Story So Far


Love Your Neighbour

Amara’s Story



Amara*, a Greek Orthodox, moved to the UK nine years ago. She lives on the Isle of Dogs with her husband and two young daughters. Three years ago, she joined a toddler group at St Luke’s Millwall and formed a close relationship with St Luke’s leaders, Ed and Fuzz Dix. Here, Amara shares how the church has provided her with crucial support and provision during a very difficult year. I found the church after I visited the playgroup with my daughter. Then, the leaders invited us to come to a Sunday service. We now go as a whole family and we really enjoy it. We were invited to do a Kids Matter course at the church. We found it helpful. It changed my attitude towards my kids; how to treat them well and how to spend positive time with them. I liked being able to share experiences with other parents and I’ve become a more relaxed parent, not as stressed.

visited, my husband behaved normally, so they couldn’t do anything about it. My husband eventually left the house because I was afraid to have him at home with the children. Eventually, the police took him to hospital and he stayed there for a month. When he came out of the hospital, he was much better; he now recognises his mistakes and is completely involved with the family. Over the years, the church has helped us to cope. When my husband was out of work, the church provided us food and vouchers and free activities for the kids. It was amazing. Even though we didn’t have a salary, we didn’t go hungry, it was like a miracle. The church is amazing; they help everyone, not only with words, but with actions too. The leaders meet with my husband and I separately each week to pray with us and find out how we are. It’s the only time I’ve ever had that in my whole life. I never want to leave this place because the church is like a family for me. *Not her real name

Love Your Neighbour

My husband struggles with poor mental health. Last year there was a bad incident and I had to leave the house. The church looked after me and provided a house for me and my kids for a week, until things were more stable. But then, lockdown came and it got even worse. It’s been a very hard year. At the beginning of lockdown, my husband stopped taking his medication. He wasn’t behaving normally, so it was very difficult. And it was hard to find professionals who could give him help; every time the agencies


Love Your Neighbour is working with charities such as CAP, Crosslight, Trussell Trust, Resurgo Spear, CFEO, Safe Families for Children and Kids Matter to provide specialist support to at-risk groups. Here, three of our Network churches share their experience of these charity partnerships…

We’re in This Together


St Cuthman’s Whitehawk & CAP Each week a group of volunteers gather together at St Cuthman’s, in the heart of the Whitehawk estate, to run a community drop-in to offer debt help by signposting people to the work of CAP. In reality this takes time and pre-Covid-19, the team were building relationships, going out on the streets with sweets and hot chocolate, talking and praying for people and then, where appropriate, linking them to the financial help they can access through CAP. It is an incredible privilege spending time with these volunteers who have a genuine love for the people of Whitehawk and want to see lives turned around. Becky Atkins, Debt Coach and member of St Cuthman’s, Whitehawk

St Nicholas Bristol & Resurgo’s Re-Work 27

At St Nicks, we have a lot of young adults and students, and we‘ve been shocked at the recent unemployment figures for this demographic, as a result of the pandemic. When we heard about the Re-Work course, we were really excited about the opportunity to offer some practical help for those looking for work. The course is designed to equip anyone who is struggling to find work as a result of the pandemic, with the skills, mindset and confidence they need to re-enter the workplace. We are so expectant for all God is going to do through this great course and the way we can support young adults in Bristol through it. Laura Doe, Curate at St Nicholas, Bristol

St Luke’s Millwall & Kids Matter We’ve been running the Kids Matter parenting programme here on the Isle of Dogs for over 6 years and it has been the most wonderful tool for us in reaching and building trust with our local community, particularly families facing adverse challenges.

Fuzz Dix, Kids Matter Facilitator and Children’s Pastor at St Luke’s, Millwall

Love Your Neighbour

As well as equipping parents for the sometimes overwhelming task of parenting their children through these tough times, it has helped build a strong foundation of friendship and trust between us as a church, and our community, which is proving to be a wonderful base for seeing gospel fruit.

5 Ways to Love Your Neighbour

5 WAYS TO LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR Jason and Rachel Gardner are part of the team at Preston Minster. Together with Blackburn Diocese they’re looking to start up a fresh resource church within the Blackburn area in 2021.

The BIGGER the ears, the better At Preston Minster, our journey with Love Your Neighbour started with listening to our neighbours. We walked to local service providers such as a children’s nursery and a homeless project and asked what their needs were. Listening is key to getting to the heart of the problem and offering help that is targeted.

Partner with good

Be excellent in your SERVICE

There are always people nearby who have walked this road before you and can offer much needed experience and advice. So make it your job to find them and learn from them and find out how you can work together.

Think about how you can create capacity to go the extra mile for those you’re serving and partnering with. Can you be the one who will deliver that food pack, or pick up that prescription asap? Are you the organisation that people turn to when no one else can deliver? Do it sensitively and joyfully.


Volunteers with

Love Your Neighbour


VA VA VOOM To make a difference in your community, recruit volunteers who have the right passion, competency and wiring! Does this issue stir them? Can they do the job that’s required of them? If love is the driver of your response, make sure that those involved in extending this love in action, feel the love from you too.

Let God’s heart

REFRESH yours In the hero phase (those early weeks after lockdown), we had so much energy and passion; it was easy to find volunteers and easy to source free food. But when the team becomes tired, making prayer and worship part of the rhythm is essential to keeping energised so that you can love your neighbour through thick and thin.

Thank You

THANK YOU so much for your partnership in helping the most vulnerable at a time of crisis. You are making such a difference. Find out how you can support Follow us @_loveyourneighbour_ @LoveYourNB


Love Your Neighbour


Church Online

Hannah Milne and James Stinson, St Peter's Brighton


Pioneering in a Pandemic

Church Online

In a year of lockdowns and enforced isolation, the church has a different story to tell; one of adapting, reaching out and coming together. We take a look at some of the projects and people across the Network who have innovated and continued to bring hope in the midst of the pandemic.

On 16th March 2020, the nation fell silent. Shops were shuttered, businesses barred and movement all but ceased. Churches too, were forced to close their doors thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. This was an unprecedented moment, with no prior blueprint for how the following months would unfold. ‘When the country first went into lockdown, I felt a sense of panic and disbelief – and initially a lot of fear,’ recalls Nicky Gumbel, vicar of HTB. ‘I felt fear personally for the well-being of my family, but also for the church. What were we going to do? There was so much uncertainty.’

C OF E DIGITAL REPORT • 86 million views on social media (92% increase from 2019)

This global uncertainty was matched by a corresponding surge in online searches for prayer, the highest level ever according to Google in a study across 95 countries, and 50% higher than the average number in February. ‘I realised we were faced with an extraordinary opportunity’, continued Nicky Gumbel. ‘Perhaps this pandemic was the biggest missional opportunity we’d seen in a very long time. We realised that this was a time for the church to advance and not retreat.’


• Over 17,000 online services all take place regularly


• More than 250,000 questions relating to church asked to Alexa and Google smart speaker apps

There was a rapid realisation that the church could pivot and adapt in this moment of crisis. ‘As soon as the pandemic hit, we knew we were going to be experiencing a significant degree of change’, explained Al Gordon, Rector of Hackney Church in East London. ‘Many of the things that we are now doing are things we would have loved to have done before, but the pandemic forced us to move quickly.’ And so, the church swung into action. The Church of England has since reported more than 170,000 online services and events run by parishes, with more than 4,200 vicars and church leaders taking part in digital training programmes this year – four times the number who did so in 2019. After some early challenging weeks, the level of engagement with online church surpassed expectations. By the summer, Hackney Church reported reaching 50,000 viewers engaging with online content. Al Gordon continued, ‘Prior to the November lockdown, we’d opened eight services across four physical locations, but still our biggest location remained online’.

Yet, for many, this digital shift has entirely realigned the idea of what church can be. ‘The digital context is a mission field’, says Alex Rayment, leader of St Barnabas Penny Lane, who planted during the pandemic. ‘I believe God has given us a huge invitation to seriously engage with a missing generation of people who spend most of their time online.’

Pioneering in a Pandemic

‘It wasn’t all easy’, described Toby Flint, vicar at St Nicholas Bristol. ‘It required rewriting everyone’s job description overnight. The challenge was being in different places on Zoom, working out the technology and how to adapt and tweak it. We are a small team, but everyone had to re-skill and be hugely adaptable.’


Alpha and Prison Ministry

Paul Cowley

Sharbelina Tzouvanni

Whilst Covid-19 has applied huge pressure to many communities and groups of people, UK prisons have been kept on an unrelenting lockdown since the outbreak began. Prisoners are held in their cells for up to 23 hours a day, and there has been a closure of education departments, recreational time and of course, one of the most important areas of prison life, the family visits which have no longer been available to the prisoners. ‘In the midst of this struggle, there have been reasons for hope,’ explains Paul Cowley MBE, Ambassador for Alpha for Prisons, and founder of Caring for Ex-Offenders. ‘Alpha in Prisons has linked with the company who provide TVs in inmates’ cells, so we were able to show Alpha in 50 prisons around the UK. Inmates were able to go through the course and received questions from the chaplains after each session.’



Alpha Courses online this year

Over 40,000 Alpha courses have run so far in 2020, and almost 15,000 of those have been online. Alpha has been one of thousands of church activities which successfully pivoted to the digital sphere – indeed, it almost seems to work better there for many.

Pioneering in a Pandemic


‘It reduces the “friction” for people wanting to explore faith’, explains Matt Hogg vicar of St Alban’s Fulham. ‘We had one new student who found us first on Instagram, turned up to church and is now on Alpha. It shows a new pathway for people to access faith’. One of those was Sharbelina Tzouvanni, who, like swathes of the population in early 2020 found herself furloughed and experiencing even more of the general and increasing sense of anxiety that predated the disruptions of Covid-19. ‘I didn’t feel any sense of meaning or purpose in my life and I was having panic attacks. When I was put onto furlough I had more time to think.’ A friend of Sharbelina’s invited her to an online Alpha course, which she signed up for with a friend. ‘One talk was about the accuracy of the Bible. I thought, there’s no harm in reading the Bible, I’ve got nothing else to do whilst I’m on furlough. As I started, I had this overwhelming sense of shock just from hearing how revolutionary Jesus’ words were, and I knew within me, it had to be truth.’ ‘As Alpha continued, my panic attacks stopped. The effect that Jesus has had on my life has been everything. I’ve done a full 180 degrees and I’m not the same person that I was before.’ ‘From now on,’ explains Nicky Gumbel, ‘our church will always offer Alpha online, even when we are back running physical courses.’

The Marriage Course

THIEF PRISONER SOLDIER PRIEST Through the generosity of donors, 7000 copies of Paul Cowley’s autobiography were distributed across the 138 prisons in the UK. This is one of many stories of men committing their lives to Jesus after reading the book, as told by a prison chaplain.

He said, ‘that man in the book’s life is similar to mine in many ways, and if God can do that to him and change his life, then I want to know God’.

couples in the UK signed up to the PreMarriage and Marriages Courses online

‘It’s never been easier for couples to do the course,’ explain founders Nicky and Sila Lee. ‘There are loads of couples who have wanted to but for whatever reason, were not physically able to commit to doing the course, but now have been able to – and it’s never been easier to invite other people to do the course.’ Phil and Anna Mann, leaders at St Werburgh’s Derby, began to hear reports of divorce rates escalating as they came out of lockdown and realised that with TMC going online, this was something that they could offer help and support with. They developed a plan to make the course work well in Derby. ‘We wanted to have a local feel, so we chose to run it through our website and social media and filmed the introduction videos ourselves. It was strange to launch a course and then not connect with people, but we felt that was some of the appeal of it for people outside the church. They could sign up and take part in their own homes without having to step into a strange church or talk to people they didn’t know.’ With the use of local companies, St Werburgh’s advertised widely and had 120 couples sign up, some from St Werburgh’s, but also a good number with no church connection at all. ‘It made such a positive impact in Derby’, described Anna. ‘People found it really helpful, a timely benefit to lots of marriages under pressure’.

Pioneering in Where a Pandemic We Are


With the combination of increased stress, the pressures of working from home and school closures, the pandemic has, of course, taken its toll on relationships across the country. Perhaps that’s why The Marriage Course and The Pre-Marriage Course have seen huge interest this year, with over 21,000 couples having signed up to the online versions in the UK since April.


The next day, he was reading the book. Two days later his behaviour had changed so dramatically that he was taken out of segregation and allowed back on to the wings with the other inmates. He then asked to see me. He told me he had given his life to Christ and wanted to be different now.

Nicky and Sila Lee


I gave a book to a man who was in segregation because of his destructive behaviour, not only to himself through self-harm but to everyone around him. I gave him a copy of Thief Prisoner Soldier Priest and he threw it into the corner of the cell and told me to leave him alone.

With the HTB Network’s new youth event due to launch at Focus 2020, the best laid plans had to be adapted. An online festival was birthed, with over 3,000 young people streaming live content – more than double the amount of people planned to be physically present.

‘It caused us to rethink, to go back, once again, to the basics of what it means to ‘be with’ young people’, explained HTB’s Head of Youth, Tom Clark. ‘The beauty of those aged 11–18 is that they have grown up as digital natives. In many ways, for young people there is no ‘online or offline’, they are just different ways to be with each other.’ Having youth gatherings online seems to have provided new opportunities. One young person perfectly summed it up, ‘With Youth Alpha it's so easy to invite people now, no one has anything better to do and there is no barrier of having to actually get there!’ Head to to watch our interview with Tom


Azande Mbhele, Focus Alive Team


Rising Generation


This crisis has hit young people particularly hard. Kids, youth and students are used to online engagement, but every physical expression of gathering, discipling and mentoring young people was shut down. What happened then?


Pioneering in a Pandemic

The Drake Family

Right on cue, as lockdown began and schools closed, there was one family who became heroes for many tired parents and bored children at home across the country. Nick and Becky Drake, based at Gas Street in Birmingham, opened up their home online and ran the first (of subsequently 24 episodes) of ‘Family at 4’, a Facebook live programme of kids worship, Bible stories, games and chat thrown into the mix. After this first episode, it transpired that a remarkable 35,000 households had tuned in and hundreds had shared it. The numbers remained with an average of 8,000 devices connecting into each episode. ‘From the outset, we wanted to do it with our four children, so that it modelled the value of worshipping together’ explained Becky. ‘We also wanted the children to feel they could be fully themselves, so gave them freedom to come and go.’ ‘Our hope is that churches will expand their vision and expectation for times of all-age worship. Covid-19 has provided us all with an opportunity to stop and reflect on what life could and should look like after this. Our Family at 4 sessions have shown us that children want to see other children leading. It has also shown us that older people, and those without children, need children in their lives too, and benefit from feeling part of the wider family of God. We need one-another, and believe that the body of Christ is most glorified when all ages unite!’


The UK Blessing


watched the UK Blessing

It was a breath-taking moment when 65 different churches and movements representing hundreds of others came together online to sing a 3,000 year-old blessing over the nation. To date, over 4 million people have watched The UK Blessing, and it resulted in Tim Hughes, Leader at Gas Street, Birmingham being awarded a Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award for bringing it together. Boris Johnson described it as a ‘singing masterpiece… touching millions with its message of hope and its beauty.’ ‘I think The UK Blessing struck a chord with people because it communicated such hope and goodness at a time of real despair’, reflected Tim Hughes. ‘It was a powerful expression of unity, seeing the beautiful diverse UK church coming together to declare this blessing over people. Worship is an expression of hope, whilst not being able to sing worship together has been challenging, we need to keep articulating gratitude and praise in the confines of our own homes.’ 35

Against the backdrop of a nation in crisis, this is the story of the church in action; listening, watching, re-shaping and responding; the buildings were closed, but the church is alive.


Pat Allerton

Pioneering in a Pandemic

‘If people can’t go to the church, maybe church should go to the people’, decided Pat Allerton, vicar at St Peter’s Notting Hill. He captured the attention of the national media as he held a 10-minute service at a different spot every day. By the end of lockdown, he had visited 64 different locations on his tricycle. ‘It’s about bringing hope to people. It seems to have captured a bit of the imagination and a bit of joy.’


t on the Peter Stream 20


Sabine Adeyinka, Studen


40% of those who attend Anglican churches do so in rural parishes and the model of rural ministry is creaking. It was when Anthony Goddard retired to a rural village, after 40 years working in business, management consultancy and latterly as a Headmaster, that an idea of how to reinvigorate rural parishes was born. He shares his vision for the newly established Caleb Stream.

Revitalising Rural Parishes


Rural churches make up two-thirds of the Church of England’s parishes; this is the bedrock of the Anglican Church. It’s incredibly powerful to have a church in every place – and in many rural contexts, the only church in the village is the C of E church.

The vision for the Caleb Stream is to help revitalise the rural church, by increasing the ordinations of experienced leaders who are called to serve in their rural communities.


Rural churches face real challenges. There are financial issues (made even worse by Covid-19), often a relatively elderly population and typically, there’ll be a minimum of three parishes in a benefice. Increasingly there are cases of up to 15 churches with one paid clergy, often not full time. Whilst many of the parishes have retired clergy, lay readers or very active lay Christians, rural clergy are spreading themselves very thinly and are often unable to sustain the varying demands. That’s pretty frustrating at best. At worst, I suspect, it causes all sorts of stress and unhappiness.

This isn’t about plucking someone from a city centre and putting them in a rural parish. This is about finding people who are already serving in their parish to which they could be ordained, to support their incumbent. It’s typically for people aged 55+, who can be selfsupporting, and who’ve got 30 years+ of working life experience and leadership. Their training will be shorter so that they can become frontline, ordained ministers ideally within 12 months from starting training. The thing that persuaded me that I should consider ordination was the sense of wanting to be as useful as I possibly could be to the local rector. You need someone who is in a church most Sundays, and – this is the key point – be able to administer the sacraments because if they can’t do that, then the vicar has to make an appearance. I realised how useful I could be if I was ordained – that was the clincher. I’d encourage others to ask the question: has all of your life experience been a preparation for this? That’s what I feel – it’s been a really exciting thought. Ultimately, we want to see God’s kingdom being built and being renewed across the country. Thousands of ‘Calebs’ who are called and empowered by the Holy Spirit, I think could make quite a difference. Training Leaders

Peter Stream 2019/20

Keeping on Course


Jamie Sewell, Student on the

Part of last year’s Accelerator Programme, Ray Driscoll recently moved to Gosport to join the Harbour Church team ahead of a church plant in September 2021. Here he shares the top five reads and listens that have kept him on track in 2020. 01 On the road with Saint Augustine

by James K.A. Smith

In response to the restlessness of the spirituality of our age, Smith intricately weaves the narrative of Augustine’s life with the journey towards maturity and the stages through which we must travel.

02 Lead Yourself First

by Raymond M. Kethledge and Michael S. Erwin


Kethledge and Erwin argue that in a time when leaders are more available than ever, solitude is one of the essential tools available to the leader and must be protected at all costs.

03 Lectio 365 App

by 24–7 Prayer

I started using this app in March and I found it so refreshing at a time when my routine shifted and my heart responded to the unfamiliar territory of lockdown. Simple, sleek and really accessible.


04 Managing Leadership Anxiety

The Accelerator Programme

by Steve Cuss

A practical exploration of how anxiety can limit the effectiveness of individual leaders and whole organisations, with insights and resources to help you move beyond anxiety and into personal and organisational health.

05 The Emotionally Healthy Leader Podcast

Training Leaders

by Pete Scazzero

This podcast addressed issues of leadership and spirituality in real-time. I found ‘Leading through loss during the corona-virus pandemic’, ‘Journeying through the collective dark night of the soul’ and ‘Surrendering to God’s season when life turns upside down’ particularly helpful.

A one-year intensive training course designed to prepare future leaders to plant a flourishing and thriving church.

The Peter Stream Since its launch in 2018, 42 men and women who have previously felt themselves excluded based on either education, social background or race, are pursuing a call towards ordained leadership.

The Caleb Stream With often one priest assigned to serve multiple rural parishes, this stream aims to mobilise a generation rich in Christian leadership and life experience to serve in dwindling parishes across the UK.

“I knew I could speak a language that working class people and young men who felt excluded could relate to, but the academic side to the ordination process ruled it out for me.” Jamie Sewell, part of last year’s Peter Stream cohort, shares his story.

The Peter Stream: Jamie’s Story

THE PETER STREAM: JAMIE’S STORY At the age of 4, I started school. I struggled with dyslexia and found reading and writing a massive challenge. I felt stupid, always segregated in a group of children – some of whom had a lot of social needs. Being part of the group who were ‘different’ was awful for me. I began to really hate education. When I was 6, my Mum lost a baby. She had always struggled with her mental health, but then her depression and anxiety spiralled out of control. Suddenly, my home life was as stressful as my school life. The one thing I loved was Taekwondo. It was the only thing I could succeed in – fighting! I became a British Champion in my age bracket and it became my world. By the time I was 12, life was chaotic. My Mum was really ill and I remember trying to convince her to stay alive. One day, she was screaming downstairs and I cried out to God in my bedroom that if he was there, he needed to help us. Soon after that, we visited a small Pentecostal church and heard a message about Jesus which just connected with me and my journey of faith began.


I heard the passage in 1 Timothy, ‘Fight the good fight of the faith’ and in a moment of true repentance, I decided to give up my Taekwondo. I threw all my medals and newspaper cuttings in the bin. I wanted to fight ‘the good fight’, not people. Even now, I can’t believe I made that choice, but I knew there was a more important fight I wanted to be part of.

Head to crtrust.o rg to watch our

At 16, I left school. It was the happiest day of my life! I began volunteering in a young offenders institute. I’d see teenagers come into prison as a mess, you’d work with them and they’d begin to make some good choices. Then they’d leave and go back to the gangs or the drugs they’d come from and be back in prison a few months later with the same problems. I felt so frustrated with how broken the world was. I wondered if I could be more effective helping these teenagers in their communities while they were still free. So, I started working on a council estate. There, working with families, parents and the young people, I saw first-hand the way that God can transform families and really difficult situations.

interviews with Peter

I began to feel a call to serve in the Anglican Church. I’d worked with some really dangerous young men, but the thing that terrified me the most was writing an essay. I knew I could speak a language that working class people and young men who felt excluded could relate to, but the academic side to the process ruled it out for me.


I failed the education system and maybe it failed me. It stopped me from ever being willing or able to step into anything, but I’m overcoming that. I’d love to lead a church that gives people, from all different types of background and people groups, access to understanding who Jesus is – like that Pentecostal church did for me. It might be idealistic, but I’ll try.

Training Leaders

Stream’s Jamie and Sa

The Peter Stream made it possible to explore whether leading a church was the right thing for me. I was supported gently and kindly, and able to get to a point where I could face this fear. I had created a narrative in my head that learning was useless, the reality was I was terrified of it. Without the Peter Stream there is no way I would have gone through ordination.


CRT works in partnership with the diocese to find a centrally located, ‘iconic’ building which can be adapted to fit the needs of 21st century mission.

Restoring Buildings

RESTORING BUILDINGS Joel Sales, Leader of Pattern Church

The joys have been seeing Jesus doing beautiful things in spite of not having a building. I could list the names of precious people who have found Jesus or are on that journey. I remember when one guy came along to Alpha who was really anti-faith and turned up to a service. He’s now been baptised and is such an important part of our church. We feel so privileged to have this amazing building, but the church is people, not the building. Having said that, we do have a big vision for the space at Pattern Church. There are 200,000 people in our town who don’t know Jesus. We’re trying to be a church for those guys. We’re dreaming of an army of young people who’ve found hope and purpose in Jesus. We want to make a difference to some of the social issues in Swindon; through Love Your Neighbour, we’re doing food parcels for families who need extra support in the holidays and setting up youth mentoring, helping people into employment, as well as debt advice.


The big challenges were all practical; all our staff and volunteers setting up equipment in different venues. I know lots of churches do it, but it is quite exhausting, especially because our end date kept extending.

Pattern Church Swindon

We launched in December 2018, but only moved into the finished building September 2020. Even before the pandemic hit, we were getting used to doing church without a building.

“ We’re believing it’s going to be a place that forms NEW PATTERNS in people’s lives.”

After nearly two years without a church building, Pattern Church Swindon has moved into its new home – a former Great Western Railways Pattern Store. Leader, Joel Sales, shares his vision for the newly established building and why they have installed a giant slide into the worship area.

Swindon has a rich railway heritage; Great Western Railways was based in Swindon, and our building – The Pattern Store – used to hold all the patterns, square bits of wood, that were used to make engine parts. We had hundreds of these old patterns left in the building, so we’ve put them up all around the new church. We’re praying it will be a place that forms new patterns in people’s lives. Where people have been in patterns of despair, they’ll find new patterns of hope, of purpose, prayer and discipleship.

Our mindset from here on will be to crack on. Inviting people into family, to serve Swindon. That’s what God’s called us to do, so we’re going to keep going – whatever the circumstances!

Restoring Buildings

Have you heard about our slide? I always wanted to have a slide in the building! Why? Joy is a fruit of the spirit. When Jesus comes into your life, he produces joy. Joy matters, fun matters. We want to scream loud and clear to children and young people in Swindon that we are here for them – and this is what God’s like! He’s fun!

2020: A New Awakening

2020: A new

AWAKENING? “Churches have responded on the front line, churches literally turned inside out – people doing church online at home, while iconic buildings have been used to tirelessly serve the poor.” Sarah Jackson, CEO of CRT, reflects on why we are in a redefining moment.


On December 31st 2019, I was struggling to decide on any New Year’s resolutions. As I prayed, I sensed that God was asking the church to stretch our horizons beyond the year, to the decade ahead. I was reminded of America’s ‘Roaring Twenties’ a hundred years ago, a difficult decade, but one that was to redefine its nation and re-shape its culture. A year on, we can hardly believe how much the world has changed. 2020 has been a tough year for many of us; ‘zoom fatigue’ has been real, home schooling often patchy and many have been working off a sofa (or the stairs) for months. Our heart goes out to those who have suffered significant loss, and we pray some of these stories may bring renewed hope for a brighter tomorrow. In the backdrop of some desperate need and isolation, we have witnessed an unprecedented rallying moment for the church to become known for something extraordinary – for its limitless love.

Churches have responded on the front line with Love Your Neighbour, churches literally turned inside out – people doing church online at home, while iconic buildings have been used to serve the poor, homeless, isolated, and vulnerable in so many varied and creative ways. This is the church in action. Planting eight new churches during a pandemic is evidence that God’s spirit is on the move. The resilience required of these leaders has been remarkable, and they have risen to the challenge. The Accelerator Programme has pivoted online to train eight new 2021 church planters, and the Holy Spirit continues to raise up exceptional young leaders on the Peter Stream who are bringing diversity to the Church of England, while the Caleb Stream is mobilising the older generations to support rural ministry. As this year draws to a close, could it be that we have begun to witness an unprecedented move of God’s Spirit? A move that could reshape our culture, reset our priorities and reorder our lives? As CS Lewis’s lion, Aslan, roared across barren Narnia to reawaken those who were asleep, bringing life to what appeared dead, could God be calling his church to contest for a new awakening?

Under the Bonnet

Throughout this pandemic, we have seen evidence that the power of God’s love is unstoppable. Out of the challenges of 2020 we have stories of hope. Each of us are dealers in hope and it is a pivotal moment to become famous for Jesus’ love. Let’s love our neighbours like never before as we enter 2021.

PLAY YOUR PART Join us as we work towards hundreds of churches growing, multiplying, transforming lives and bringing hope, in every community. Let’s do something great together. Become a Friend of CRT today Follow us @churchrevtrust

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