On Friday December 7
at Bishop’s House
a gathering of approximately 40 church leaders from across Norfolk
met to hear about plans for HOPE 2014
, a year of mission following the HOPE 08
initiative four years ago.
The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James
opened the meeting with an endorsement of the initiative saying: “I certainly hope it will bring the churches in Norwich together in mission in a way that perhaps we have never managed to do before, and especially bringing together our young people because that’s a transforming possibility, I think, for the life of the church in this city”.
Roy Crowne, the Executive Director of HOPE
, provided an overview of the vision for HOPE 2014. He said: “In essence we imagine all over the country in communities large and small, churches working together bringing Jesus’ story alive through word and action. I have to say that this is not new but what we found in this strange brand of HOPE is that people did stuff under this brand that they didn’t do before”.
HOPE is a partnership initiative supported by many of the major denominations and leading Christian organisations. Roy Crowne reinforced the Bishop’s call for partnership amongst churches saying: “When people come together for the purpose of mission, we can lose a lot of our differences for the cause of mission.”
2014 will mark the 100 year anniversary of the start of the First World War and building on the success of the Big Lunch during the Queen’s Diamond Jubiliee, HOPE 2014 is an opportunity to look at what the church can do to be right at the heart of the centenary. Roy Crowne described HOPE 2014 as a ‘profile moment’ giving churches across the country the opportunity to be recognised as being part of something positive.
He described 2013 as a “year of preparation leading up to the big year of mission”. He encouraged Christians within Norwich and Norfolk to prepare by praying together, by considering regional needs and making wider connections into the local community. He also encouraged the church leaders to equip their congregations to enable them to confidently share their faith in preparation.
He ended by saying “When we unite, I think we are a real powerful force to transform communities so let’s pray that God will do immeasurably more than we can ask or dream or imagine.”
One of the unique features of HOPE 2014 in Norwich is the invitation to use Newday
delegates. Phill Gray
, the Events Director of Newfrontiers
, encouraged the meeting to view the 6,000 Newday Festival delegates as a resource.
Newday, an annual youth festival held at the Norfolk Showground
for six days each summer, attracts around 6,000 young people aged 12-19 from across the UK and Europe. A key part of the event is to provide young people with the opportunity to be part of a community outreach.
Phill said: “You have a resource. You have 6000 young people who turn up on your doorstep every year and we are very happy to say, on behalf of them, use them in the work that you want to do in Norwich. They are really up for it and are great ambassadors.”
, the Leader of Christ Community Church, Attleborough
outlined his vision for utilising Newday delegates during HOPE 2014 and invited churches across Norfolk to join him.
Rob presented a project that he had done with his local church in 2011, supported by Newday delegates. They asked members of their community a one question survey: “What hurts the most?” He reported: “It is amazing how disarming a teenager is in asking the question. In a very short space of time we got over 400 responses.”
Following the survey Christ Community Church ran a series of six talks, using Sunday morning meetings, addressing the top issues from the survey e.g. death, relationships, money worries. Rob said: “Something about asking that question and offering hope on the back of it really connected with some people.” The six talks were turned into a free book and the church gave out in excess of 900 copies.
It is a model that he is inviting churches in Norfolk to get involved with on a bigger scale. Under the banner “Who Cares?” churches across Norfolk, with the help of Newday delegates in August 2014, would be able to ask thousands of people “What hurts the most?”. During the autumn months each local church would be free to make their own response to their local findings, either through providing a social action initiative, a teaching series, making someone available to listen, holding an exhibition or a special event.
Another HOPE initiative which was presented included a Mission Academy
for young people which Norwich YFC
are launching in February next year. The Mission Academy will recognise that young people have a real vision for God and a passion to share their faith, and equip them in all the skills needed to lead in mission. The Norwich course is one of 17 Mission Academies being launched across the UK as a pilot round, prior to Mission Academies being launched in every county.
If you would like to be involved in the plans for HOPE 2014 in Norfolk please sign up on the website at www.hopetogether.org.uk.
If you would like to be involved in the “Who Cares?” initiative as described by Rob Tervet please get in touch with Ailsa Magee at the Kings Centre, Norwich on 01603 765 795 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.