24-7 announced as new partners in Fresh Expressions

Thursday, 2 December, 2010

Fresh Expressions today announced that the 24-7 Prayer movement has become a partner in the initiative.

Listen to Andy Freeman explaining why 24-7 Prayer are joining the Fresh Expressions initiative below.

Graham Cray and Andy Freeman

24-7 Prayer is an interdenominational movement of prayer, mission and justice that began with a single, student-led prayer vigil in Chichester in 1999. It has since spread to more than 100 countries.

The movement has given rise to numerous new initiatives, communities and ministries particularly focusing on the poor, the marginalised, students and those outside the reach of normal expressions of church. The missional communities, inspired by ancient Celtic monasticism, are generically known as Boiler Rooms though they may also be known by a local name - such as Houses of Prayer.

Andy Freeman is on the 24-7 Council and pioneered the first 24-7 Boiler Room in Reading, overseeing the development of similar communities across the world. He is now training for ordination at St Mellitus College while developing Reconcile, a mix of an Anglican fresh expression and a 24-7 community.

Andy said,

Conversations have been going on for some while between Pete Greig, director of 24-7, and Bishop Graham Cray as leader of the Fresh Expressions team, about the possibility and potential of partnership. I had also talked to Bishop Graham about it in relation to my own training as a priest. The result was that it felt like the right time, something that God wanted us to do.

There are a lot of parallels between the work of Fresh Expressions and 24-7. I think the biggest one is that fresh expressions start with the process of listening. This listening to culture, listening to what's going on and listening to each other is also very important within prayer rooms and nearly all of our communities would have started from that same place.

Bishop Graham Cray, Archbishops' Missioner, commented,

I am delighted that the 24-7 Prayer movement is becoming a partner in the Fresh Expressions initiative. 24-7's emphasis on prayer, spirituality and mission exactly accords with ours, and will strengthen us as we develop patterns of discipleship for fresh expressions of church and as we engage with young adults.

Andy Freeman sees further similarities in work relating to training, how to stay flexible and mobile while working alongside more established forms of church, and enabling continued thinking on associated ecclesiology and theology.

We are really interested in how we can help Fresh Expressions, but I think we are also conscious how Fresh Expressions is going to help us too. In particular I hope that prayer rooms could be part of the listening process for people on the ground wanting to build mission communities and fresh expressions. I'd also love to see ways in which younger people could get the opportunity and be given the permission to start fresh expressions of church. To play our part in the Church's continued change and growth in its development of the mixed economy will be very exciting indeed.

Karen Carter interviews Andy Freeman from 24-7 Prayer about why they are joining the Fresh Expressions partnership.

Duration: 3:06   | Download Download mp3


Introducer: 24-7 Prayer is the latest organisation to join the Fresh Expressions initiative here in the UK, after conversations between Fresh Expressions team leader Bishop Graham Cray and the leadership team of 24-7. Their aim is to set up Christ-centred, mission-minded prayer communities and an agreement to work together has been signed. Karen Carter asked Andy Freeman to explain more.

Andy Freeman: Well 24-7 is a prayer movement, started ten years ago a little bit by accident, but also by God intending it. A church in the south of England did a month of continuous prayer, other people joined in with them and now ten years on there's prayer rooms in about 100 countries. Every week there'll be people praying night and day, a lot of young people around the world, and these have also spawned some communities, some boiler room communities they're called, which are missional church plants that are based around prayer, community and a desire to reach people that don't come to church.

Interviewer: Sounds similar to fresh expressions in many ways. How did this partnership come about?

Andy Freeman: Well Bishop Graham and I have known each other for quite a long time and I think we had talked about it. I think my own personal circumstances in training as a priest, I began to ask how do I bring that together with the work that I did with 24-7 Prayer a little bit closer and this was the most obvious way to do that. And then in conversations Pete Greig – who is the director of 24-7 – and Graham had a number of conversations and it felt like the right time, it felt like something that God was asking us to do.

Interviewer: And how about some of the parallels in the work between Fresh Expressions and 24-7?

Andy Freeman: Well there are a lot. I think the biggest one is fresh expressions start with a process of listening, God what are you doing, what are you saying to us in this place, listening to culture, listening to what's going on, listening to each other. And that happens within prayer rooms. Nearly all of our communities would have started from that place, of people praying, God what are you doing in this place, and then being obedient to what they sense God doing in a place. Listening to culture would be something we would connect with, so the starting points for fresh expressions and 24-7 communities are remarkably similar.

Interviewer: And looking ahead, how would you hope to see and pray that things will develop in the future with this partnership.

Andy Freeman: I'd love to see 24-7 communities that train Methodists and URC and Anglican priests and release them into church planting, I'd love to see ways in which ordinary younger people can get the opportunity and be given the permission to start fresh expressions of church. Young people's a very strong part of what 24-7's about and I'm very passionate about that. And I'd love to see the church continue to grow and change in this development of a mixed economy. It's something that we're passionate about too and I'm passionate about too, so to play our part in that, very excited about that.

Introducer:  Andy Freeman of 24-7 Prayer talking about partnering with Fresh Expressions.