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ORDINARY Behind the scenes

of the award-winning film series






CONCRETE FAITH Our cover features Matt Wilson’s new book chronicling the exciting developments across the Eden Network.



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Editor: Clare Hester Art Director: Bethan Wilson Graphic Designer: Dan Hasler Eden enquiries: t: 0845 194 8668 e: Eden Network’s National Office is based at The Message Trust at: Lancaster House Harper Road Sharston Manchester M22 4RG



Our passion is to reach out to young people and their families, from within the community. Because our team members choose to live long-term in the neighbourhood they can really understand the problems of those growing up there; they can become trusted friends as they daily express the love of Christ. From our early days in the council estates and inner city streets of Manchester we’ve grown into a vibrant network spanning cities including London, the North East and Yorkshire.

For a full list of Eden locations go to our website:

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The Oxford Dictionary defines the word ‘abstract’ as ‘existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.’ I worry that Christianity in our nation and in our generation has become far too abstract. In our 21st century virtual world the temptation to reside entirely in the world of ideas is more powerful than ever. We can so easily be deceived into thinking that just because we’ve given thumbs up to the latest cause on Facebook we’re making a difference. There’s even a new word to describe this growing trend – slacktivism! You don’t want to be a slacktivist do you? Now, don’t get me wrong, I can get really fired up by a big idea, but ideas don’t change the world, people do. Ideas can be powerful motivators, but until they’re translated into concrete

“Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” James 2:18 IMAGE CREDIT:

seier+seier (flickr)

actions, they remain utterly impotent. Perhaps that’s why the Bible isn’t a book of sublime truths but a story of faith being worked out in gardens, in cities, on battlefields, on hillsides and lakesides; with bread and fish, with waves and boats, with swords and ears, and with a cross and nails. All these thoughts were on my mind as I was writing ‘Concrete Faith’. The book offers a window into the world of our Eden teams – women and men, younger and older, introverts and extroverts, marrieds and singletons – who are learning how to rescue their faith from the realm of abstract ideas. Together they are finding new ways to flesh out God’s Grace, Compassion, Justice, Hope, Forgiveness and Reconciliation – in some desperately needy communities. This little magazine offers a brief glimpse into their way of life. I hope their example inspires you to live out your own faith more courageously.

Matt Wilson National Director Follow his tweets @mattwi1s0n

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LEFT: Anna RIGHT: Notting Barns team, left to right, Tanya, Theresa, Jamie, Becci and Jamie

JAMIE, NOTTING BARNSfirst heard Jamie

Anna, Hull Anna relocated from

ESSEX to become the first Eden Preston Road team member. “My journey with Eden started when I was a teenager,” reflects Anna. “I heard about the projects and was really inspired by these people who were trying to bring Jesus’ love and hope.


about Eden when Andy Hawthorne got up to speak at Soul Survivor. “I thought it was amazing,” said Jamie, “it stayed in my mind for ages because it made a lot of sense moving onto the estate to work with people.

“I knew Hull a little bit and I was beginning to ask if this was the next place God wanted me to the successes of Eden teams

to him taking the post as team place back to life, but it was

Anna confesses, “One of

on the estate, we had a small


Find out more:

4 | EDEN

wife who has managed to


La Citta Vita (flickr)

Phil, BLyth Blyth is an ex-mining town,

Anna, Phil, Hope & Micah

on the Northumberland coast 20 minutes from Newcastle, 42% of its almost 40,000 residents live under the poverty line. Phil Sherratt, along with his wife Anna and son Micah, relocated there in September 2010.

talk about God and the Bible

adult and kids discipleship and feel like something is happening

Find out more about the team: teams/notting-barns-westlondon/ Watch the short film here:

of people who want to see good

To find out more about Eden Blyth go to: To contact Phil direct, email

EDEN | 5

UNDER THE SAME ROOF Two couples, who

independently moved to Eccles, a community in Salford that has been in the grip of poverty for many years, are now working together under the same roof, but in very different lines of work... Rob McGibbon joined Eden with his wife Susie seeking to pursue his passion for youth work within an organisation that would encourage the sharing of the message of Jesus. Dave and Judy Usher had moved up from Cambridge and were confident God wanted them to set up a business in the area. Rob, had been renting a local community centre for his Eden youth work and using home as an office. With the birth of his first child, and the growth of the youth work, the pressure grew to find a flexible space that was exclusively Eden’s. At the same time, Dave and Judy were looking for a space to bake cakes and prepare food for their new party business. They were convinced the Lord would find them a place that would be a blessing to a local community too.


Through a mutual friend they were brought together and a building was found right in the middle of the estate. The opinion of a friendly architect was that it could be converted for use by both Eden and Big Top Parties.

University of Salford (flickr)

Rob now has his office there, and the work has started to convert the kitchen space. They hope to open to the public this summer and as quickly as possible hope to raise the remaining £11,000 needed to install central heating for the winter season!

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Once the restoration of the building is complete, it will have a catering kitchen for a business by day and the same space can be used for community cooking lessons and parenting classes by night. “This space provides endless opportunities for those who live on the estate to connect with the Eden team,” said Rob. “We wanted to have a community centre so we can do stuff for families and kids and this place is perfect.” To find out more about Eden Eccles, take a look at the team page: To contact Rob direct email him on:

This space provides endless opportunities for those who live on the estate to connect with the Eden team

Eden Westwood’s Football project began in Firwood Church, which at the time had a very small congregation – and no young people at all. Stephen Evans, Eden Westwood’s team leader, grew up in the suburbs of Manchester and before he joined Eden Network, was working for Firwood Church as their youth worker. He had started to meet with a small group of men in their twenties who wanted a weekly game of football. Back then, they were lucky if there was enough interest to form a five-a-side team. By 2009 Eden Westwood had started and there were other team members to play alongside the young men with Stephen. “It started as purely social,” said Stephen, “but it took on a different dimension when we mentioned it to a group of young lads at a local youth event who showed a lot of interest in our football sessions. Then it went very quickly from an informal weekly kick-about, to regular teams playing in Saturday morning leagues and a wider group which met for training every Sunday night.” The project currently attracts up to 60 lads a week, many of whom are in Bible study groups – and all of whom attend church regularly.



“I’m rubbish at football, but it’s not about showing the lads how good we are at football, it’s because football means a lot to them, we want to join in with that,” said Stephen. “Football is a place where our worlds cross over for a bit and we get to find out what’s going on in their lives, to share time, experiences, and over a period of time to hopefully see some of them responding to the gospel,” he continued. “Young people here really miss having people saying positive, healthy things to them. So our team are constantly finding ways – during and after a match, through a text, or over a coffee during the week – to reinforce them and tell them they matter and that they have something important to offer.”

The project currently attracts up to 60 lads a week, many of whom are in Bible study groups – and all of whom attend church regularly.

To find out more about Eden Westwood, go to: To contact Stephen direct, email him:

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Eden is fuelled by missionminded churches that send people out. When those being sent are integral to church life it can be hard to let them go. But here’s a story that demonstrates how a church has been blessed through the commissioning of a young couple to God’s work in a very different part of the country...

know who people are. They also visit us a number of times a year which enables us to keep them in the spotlight.”

Jon Langford, Associate Leader, St Paul’s Salisbury has been ‘cheering on’ Steve and Lianna Roast ever since they decided to move north to join Eden in Gorton, a very deprived community in east Manchester. “Having had the privilege of seeing Lianna come to faith,” said Jon, “and knowing that God had planted a seed for Manchester within her many years ago, it has been wonderful to see that come to fruition. Steve and Lianna brought so much to us as a church but we knew that God had clearly called and equipped them for the task.

“On a purely personal note, we do, of course, miss them! However, this drives us to pray for them, and hopefully ensures that they know our support is not just financial. We are standing with them as they serve the people of Gorton.”

Jon has noticed the St Paul’s youth being particularly challenged by Steve and Lianna’s example as it has illustrated for them what mission looks like locally and not just on an international scale. “Sending people within the UK when we have previously only sent mission partners abroad is a living demonstration that we care for those closer to home as well as those many miles away. It has also led us to consider our own local mission to our literal neighbours here.”


Eric Fischer (flickr)

St Paul’s stays in regular contact with the Roasts, meaning that urban mission is regularly profiled in Sunday services and prayer events. “We are a larger church,” Jon said, “this means we have to invest in profiling our mission partners to ensure new members


“At St Paul’s we have a strong commitment to mission, 12.5% of our giving is allocated that way. Through Steve and Lianna, and the Eden Network, we are now able to invest in mission in the UK.”






t 4 hours up o the m60


salisbury 8 | EDEN

“I first felt a call to Manchester when I made a commitment to follow God at 17 yrs old,” said Lianna, “But it was almost 10 years before God enabled us to move as a couple to join Eden in Manchester. “When we got married in 2004 we felt God say that we should settle in Salisbury before moving to Manchester. So, we got stuck into life at St. Paul’s Church, while we were there,” Lianna recalls. After about five years Steve and Lianna found they had a growing passion for the poor and a desire to live alongside the ‘hard-toreach’. “As we looked at the different areas in Manchester, I was immediately drawn towards the Eden Gorton area,” said Steve.

Between them, Steve and Lianna had been involved with leading worship, youth work and some of the children’s work, so they knew they were going to be missed. “Yet, as we explored our options, several close friends, including those in leadership at church, supported us in our application to Eden and encouraged us in thinking through what we felt God was calling us to do before we left,” said Lianna. “When you know that there are so many people behind you, spurring you on – who will be there for you in celebration and in the tough times – it encourages you in the calling God has spoken into your lives. We feel we will be in Gorton for a very long time and we so really appreciate the ongoing support from our home church,” said Lianna. Steve and Lianna produce newsletters which are circulated around St Paul’s and they return every six months with the express purpose of meeting with the church and those who support them face to face.

“We are in regular contact with friends and in particular with a friend who acts as a main ‘link’ for us back home. People are also proactive about finding out how we are doing and often ask us for prayer requests which is amazing,” says Lianna.


from the Roasts


It’s a big step moving on, so if you know people who are thinking about it, help them and support them, please don’t hold them back If you’re sending people into deprived areas then they are going to need support – not just short-term support – take a real long-term interest in them – go and visit them too Remember that the relationship works in both directions – everyone benefits Never underestimate the power of your prayers for those who have followed God’s call to the mission field

For more information on Eden Gorton see: To contact Steve or Lianna Roast email:

EDEN | 9


Mary HarrisMayes, loves her day job – driving XLP’s bright purple double decker bus around North London. She takes her mobile youth venue to the same housing estates on the same day each week and with an XLP team, meets up with young people in the area.

to help them out. “They would often sit on a street corner, listening to music on their phones and spitting lyrics,” said Mary. “They used what they had and they pulled something together, however basic, and I wanted to see if I could help get them some equipment to develop those skills. “So I arranged for XLP’s recording van to visit the estate, to give the young people a chance to have a go at laying down some tracks with decent equipment and there was a great response. It was easy for me to arrange because of my links with XLP and Eden volunteers were there to provide the manpower.

And working with another charity has meant that when she spends time with young people on her own estate, with the Bow Eden team, she is “Before Eden I was already mindful of what else is going on living in an ‘Eden way’, but around London for young people I had times when I felt really their age. alone in it because I didn’t have As she sat with some kids support. Of course I had the recently, looking at the videos support of my church but I felt they’d made with footage of a like I was doing it alone. Now I friend’s funeral in tribute to him, am on an estate with Eden and she could see how important I know there are others living music was to them and started here in an ‘Eden-minded’ way, thinking about whether XLP as there are in XLP. There is could work together with Eden such a togetherness and we have 10 | EDEN

come from different places to intentionally live together and build this community together, like family and modelling family to the young people. “It’s still early days here, making friends with the kids. They don’t really know how to take us yet, they don’t have a category for us, but they are developing a new one in their mind – these people who follow through and do what they said they’d do and turn up each week when they say they will.”

I know there are others living here in an ‘Eden -minded’ way For more information about Bow go to: eden-network. org/teams/bow-east-london For more about XLP go to: To contact Mary, email:


‘THE RIS’ The Eden Team in Openshaw, east Manchester, have been involved in the life of the O’Grady family for over 10 years. In his own down-to-earth way, Steve O’Grady reflects on the difference Eden has made to him...

No one messes with ‘the Ris’ – no one; no one messes with ‘the Risen Lord’ – you can’t can you? He’s the man.

For me, and my family Eden has always been there, you’re all good guys man, you’ll always help. You don’t brainwash people with the God stuff, yeah you tell ‘em about God and if they wanna listen they listen and if they don’t they don’t, but they do seem to wanna listen round here because you’ve made a great difference to the community, because you’ve stuck it out. It takes a lot to get people’s trust round here and you’ve got it now. They’ve got respect for you, the kids, and the parents. Openshaw would go under if you guys weren’t here. Through Cody coming to the Eden club and that, I’ve met some brilliant people, and I really mean that, all the people that have come here, they’ve changed my life. I’ve started to get off the drugs now and I’m down to one or two cans a day. You’ve helped me out no end, when I had all that bad stuff happening with our Cody, when he was in hospital all that long time you were with me. I could phone you at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning. I couldn’t even do that with my own family, you know what I mean, you were there for me. I can see that God motivates you, he’s always there with you, you’re always there with him, and you’re always here with us. You give your all to it and even more than that as well. It’s not all about church on Sundays, you give advice, comfort and even protection for some people. I know aw’s that it’s not about being rich, it’s about Opensh oject r p being enriched and that’s what you’ve latest s’ ut Drug done with me. ruth abo

‘T rg E nshaw.o edenope

EDEN | 11



Rev. Azariah e Enjoy th v r iew full inte rg/ twork.o eden-ne arytra-ordin being-ex film-7/ E

Beside the railway lines, in the shadow of the gas works and nestled amongst a group of housing estates, Dalgarno is representative of many of the ‘forgotten estates’ of inner London. Every day hundreds of thousands of people whizz by at great speed as they commute in and out of London with absolutely no knowledge of its existence. St Francis Community Church, in the heart of the estate, has been a place of prayer and worship for the community over decades and recently celebrated 75 years of being active in the community.

12 | EDEN

In 2010, Rev. Azariah France-Williams became the church’s new leader, with a desire to make it a place of shelter and empowerment, both for the members of the church and for the wider community.

We asked Rev Azariah recently what it means to ‘be church’ in partnership with Eden, from his perspective.

are such an encouragement. In fact they are role models for the rest of us at church. I as a minister feel sometimes I am a step behind when they come forward with an idea, which we then adopt. So it’s brilliant, there’s a real sense that there’s a mutual love, mutual blessing and mutual resource between the church and Eden.

“What gives me hope for the church? It is when I look out at the congregation and I see people that are so “For me, church is diverse, so excited, from every the combination of these background and walk of incredible human beings that life,” concludes Rev. Azariah, God has put on this earth, “coming together under one made in his image, working roof, recognising that there is a together for his glory,” he said. power greater than themselves, “Without the Eden team, that can give them the power we wouldn’t be who we are for living. For me that gives or where we are today,” said me hope.” Rev. Azariah. “They serve practically on a Sunday, through hospitality and giving technical expertise; For more about Eden they are really involved in the Dalgarno go to community, getting more and more involved with the youth teams/dalgarno-wayservices, getting involved with west-london the secondary school. They

“It’s like I joined a club I didn’t know existed,” said Maz. “Like being given a key to unlock things that we wouldn’t have had if we didn’t have Simeon. People are quicker to let you in. People want to spend time with him so they want to meet up with me. So it’s like all the old friendships are still there and now there are a whole load more! “Before Simeon, I had a part-time job so I managed to do quite a lot of Eden stuff as well – going along to band practice, dance sessions and lots of mentoring and discipleship with the girls. Now Simeon comes with us to the youth band and free running every week as it doesn’t interfere with his routine and the kids love him. But for the rest of my week, my role has changed.



Gav and Maz featured in last year’s Being Extra Ordinary film series, sharing their hopes and dreams for Buttershaw Estate, having moved onto the estate in February 2010. Since then, they have had baby Simeon, so we went back to find out how life had changed with this new focus.

has taken on some of the things I was doing and we are still working out how it fits. “When he was born it was amazing how many people knocked on our door and gave us gifts. Neighbours and people, parents of kids that we work with and have been really interested. It was really overwhelming because you think you are here to help them to some extent and then suddenly they are the ones able to offer support and love. There was one parent of a girl we had been mentoring, who I’d not met very often before, who came over and surprised me. She said to me that she was so grateful for all that we had done for her daughter and that this was a way she could do something practical to give something back.

“Since having Simeon I do less of the evening commitments and because I have more time during the day, I can oversee the mentoring for our team. So I am continuing with the girls that I was mentoring before and can see others as well. One of the girls I’ve been mentoring for two years has now had a baby and so I take her along with me to stay and play toddler groups.

“So many of our neighbours have raised so many kids and there’s so much collective wisdom which I have been passed on that’s been really cool.”

“I am trying to get alongside the young mums and I have time during the day to meet up with young people who live on the estate and have babies. So, it has meant that the team

For more about Buttershaw see

e Watch th here short film rg/ twork.o eden-ne arytra-ordin being-ex film-5/ E

To contact Gav and Maz directly email

EDEN | 13


2012 might be significant because of the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics – but let’s not forget that 2012 is also the 15th Birthday of the Eden Network! It’s also a milestone year for Eden because of a brand-new initiative that we expect to have a huge impact in the years ahead: the Eden Associates Network. We asked Eden’s National Director Matt Wilson to explain more: “We’re approached often by groups who are encouraged by what God’s doing through Eden – they want to connect and receive support from us but for various reasons they don’t fulfil our Partnership criteria. Perhaps they’re

not located within a big urban population, maybe they don’t share our priority towards youth, or maybe their neighbourhood isn’t quite in the bottom 10%. This situation has caused us a fair bit of angst over the years because we really want to be able to help more people to realise their dreams of community transformation – nobody should be repeating the same mistakes we’ve made! So, we’ve had to take a good look at how we operate and have recognised we need an easier way for groups to connect with us. “With that in mind, Eden’s leadership team have been working behind the scenes to define what the Eden Associates Network will offer. Interested groups can now gain access to a wide range of resources

without becoming full-blown Eden partners. Associates will have the opportunity to receive strategic input, to train alongside experienced Eden leaders, to participate in network events and even to receive personal coaching and support over the longterm. “In kingdom terms we hope this shift will have a massive impact because it opens up the opportunity for motivated Christians to begin making a difference in many more disadvantaged communities – way beyond our current geographical boundaries.”

For more it tion vis informa rg/ twork.o eden-ne ent/ -movem join-the / s associate

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Keep in touch T N E M and pray: MOVE Read Eden stories hot Team members are the substance of Eden, they are the people who live on the ground as salt and light in an inner-city area.

TEAM MEMBERS ƫ đƫ %2!ƫ3%0$Čƫ/1,,+.0ƫ* ƫ!*+1.#!ƫƫ other team members ƫ đƫ !".%!* ƫ5+1*#ƫ,!+,(!ƫ* ƫ families in the area that they live ƫ đƫ +(1*0!!.ƫ*ƫ2!.#!ƫof six hours a week in the community, running youth activities, discipleship groups and using their gifts in sport, music or the creative arts ƫ đƫ !!%2!ƫ+*#+%*#ƫtraining and development through Eden’s monthly ‘Formation’ programme. This year we are praying for 100 people to begin the journey with us by joining a team. Is God calling you to be one of them?

The process of joining an Eden team is deliberately designed to help you prayerfully work out if Eden is right for you and you are right for Eden. We currently have vacancies in: Greater London, Greater Manchester, North East, Yorkshire, Humberside, and Merseyside

off the press: Sign up for news through our website: or email: To receive an application pack, or ask us a question – email: or call:

0845 194 8668



The Eden Network’s success


over more than fifteen years has been measurable,



substantial and impressive. Eden proves that the gospel can still change real lives, families and entire urban priority communities for good. They have pioneered and proven a model of urban mission that works in the twenty-first century. I wish we had Eden teams on every housing estate, in every town and city in the land because I suspect that if we did, we wouldn’t be far from the revivals of Wesley and Booth. Read this book, and I think you’ll be inclined




to agree. From the foreword by Pete Greig

Eden Network Magazine – Issue 02 (Archived)  

Find out the latest from the Eden Network