Bloomfield Estate - update Feb10

Monday, 1 February, 2010

Kevin Metcalf, Church Army Evangelist, describes his early attempts at pioneering on the Bloomfield Estate in Bangor, Northern Ireland.

Duration: 2:44   | Download Download mp3


Introducer: Now over the Irish Sea in Bangor, Northern Ireland, there's a real attempt to start a fresh expression of church initially for children. But it's not easy. The Bloomfield Estate has many needs, not least spiritual ones, as Anna McCulloch explains.

Anna McCulloch: I would say now that it has been neglected by the church. And it's a Protestant estate, but it's a scary place maybe sometimes to go into. So it's great that we have got this started in Bloomfield Estate for the children.

Introducer: Kevin Metcalf is a Church Army Evangelist and he believes that a new form of church needs to start in Bloomfield.

Kevin Metcalf: I think for me it's the whole principle of what Jesus said about go, and go to all nations, so for me it's about going in to a community and going to where they're at. Very often we like to have the attitude of inviting people to come to us, and for some people that does work. Northern Ireland is an area that has a long historical religious background and there is a very high attendance of church, but Bloomfield in particular would be an area where we are seeing a lot of second generation and third generation people who have no connection with the church. It's one of those areas that seems to have been missed, would be the phrase I would use, it's been missed out in terms of churches seeing their mission to reach out into their communities.

Introducer: But starting a club for the estate's children in the local school couldn't happen quickly. Here's Anna McCulloch again.

Anna McCulloch: We went out planting flowers round the estate, we got to know people in the estate and they got to know us. Then we moved into the school where we are now.

Introducer: Kevin knows that establishing a fresh expression of church will take time, but knows too that a real strategy is needed.

Kevin Metcalf: We go and visit every child's home during the week to drop off colouring sheets. Then from that we're hoping to build the links with the parents and draw them into the kids' club. So we're going to have a couple of evenings where the parents are invited to come along and see what their kids do and for us to get to know the parents a bit better. Running courses particularly for families looking at things like how to drug-proof your kids, which is a Care for the Family course, and similar parenting courses which will be things we can offer and ways of building a relationship with the parents. And then the plan is to then look to develop a fresh expression which would still be based in the primary school, facilitating a space for families to come, to engage and build relationships and to reflect on the Christian faith.

Introducer: Kevin Metcalf looking forward to that children's club for about 50 kids growing into a fresh expression of church in Bangor, Northern Ireland.

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