Urban Hope Church - update Mar14

Monday, 24 March, 2014

Ordained Pioneer Minister Greg Bartlem gives an update on the ministry of Urban Hope, based in Coventry city centre.

Urban Hope was formed three years ago in response to some existing youth work with disenfranchised teenagers at the cathedral's youth centre, Bardsley House, and our ministry with young parents at Coffee Tots - a café/parenting project.

Over the last two years, we've developed into a community of around 70 people, meeting together as a church on Sunday afternoons and on Thursday lunchtimes in the café - plus weekly communions in the youth centre. Alongside these activities, there are various home-groups and monthly Encounter Evenings for more reflective times of prayer.

Urban Hope - balloons

What makes Urban Hope different from other churches is that it's specifically aimed at un-churched (and often disadvantaged) young people in their twenties and thirties, giving them the opportunity to help shape this new church. Our gatherings take place around meal tables with an emphasis on hospitality and Bible-based discussion, although reading ages can be quite low and there's lots of time spent together in prayer. Often our discussions are led by the young people themselves which means that no two weeks are ever alike!

Last summer, 65 of us from Urban Hope (including 10 Coffee Tots families) took part in a fantastic, residential weekend at Buckdon Towers in Cambridgeshire, where we used a variety of creative tools as worship opportunities. For example we created a prayer tree by hanging our prayers on clothes pegs in the branches of a large tree in the grounds and prayed around it each morning. We also appreciated a wonderful camp fire and candlelit compline that followed.

Urban Hope - bearAt its core Urban Hope Church aims to make Christ's love real to some of the poorest young people in Coventry through practical love and the transformation that can only come from knowing Jesus. Of course it hasn't always been plain sailing. The toughest point in our journey was the loss of Vicky, a 26-year-old mum and active member of the church who passed away suddenly, leaving behind a 2-year-old boy. As a church we found this devastating. Our long-term future is also a challenge as my Pioneer Leader funding is currently scheduled to run out later this year, but we are convinced that God is in this and we remain optimistic about the future.

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