Mission Academy is a learning community made up of young people from Birmingham, using their ideas and faith to pursue mission activities. HOPE 2014, building on the success of Hope ’08, will “see the whole church reaching the whole nation through a whole year of mission”.
Mission Academy in Birmingham will seek to reflect the uniqueness of our Diocese and its diversity in faiths, cultures and expressions within the Church of England. During monthly Mission Academy meetings, young people will be equipped to organise their own events that will serve their local communities.
At the end of September, Fred Rattley came again to talk about neighbourhoods. Fred works for the Community Regeneration department. This department of the Church of England - Birmingham exists to encourage and support Christians and churches to participate in activities that help to transform the lives of people living in their local neighbourhoods and particularly to support Christian activity that alleviates poverty and disadvantage. Fred led a session before the summer where we mapped out all the buildings in our own parishes. The next session we looked at statistics gathered by the census and the church and analysed our parishes in detail. On Monday, we looked at how we can act to help fight poverty and create parishes of social justice.
We began by looking at James 2: 14-17 and talking about how the fact that we are saved by Grace means that we should respond with good works to create places of justice. One of the best ways to build community, we learnt, is to talk to people and to use the right words; imagination and creativity is the key to get people’s attention, as demonstrated in this video we watched http://youtu.be/Hzgzim5m7oU.
Then we watched a video of a man dancing on a hillside: http://youtu.be/GA8z7f7a2Pk. This video shows not the power of language, but the power of action, as he dances, slowly, one or two join him. Then a few more people join in with the dancing. When more and more people join him, it suddenly becomes cool. This one man ends up having a crowd of a hundred around him, but at the end of the video, spotting the man is impossible. This is a visual representation of a movement of people starting.
Our challenge was to be movement makers with words and actions, in our schools, friendship groups and churches. We were encouraged not to be satisfied with adults running the church. In addition, we learnt that a movement is different to a structure as there is no obvious leader. In a movement that starts to tackle poverty it would not be possible to tell the difference between the needy and those who are providing.
Fred also talked about the ‘Places of Welcome’ movement, where he is encouraging churches and other centres of community across Birmingham to welcome people in their neighbourhood and move away from an inherited model. Fred argued that the traditional model is a deficit, where needy people come in and people with power provide what people need. The asset-based model equalises the power so that people are both giving and receiving no matter why they are there.
For the rest of our time we planned our residential, which is happening in October, we chose our activities, planned times of worship and games. We also talked about future projects and events: the Inviting Disciples Conference, St Basils Sleep out and 24 hours of prayer for 300 years celebration of the Cathedral to name a few.
We wish to welcome all young Christians in the Diocese, asking them the question: What is mission and how can we shape it for us and those around us in Birmingham?
If you would like to know more, or be involved, please contact Helen Tomblin - HelenT@birmingham.Anglican.org or join our Facebook group 'Mission Academy (HOPE 14) Church of England, Birmingham'