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New urban mission training and research centre 

A new Baptist-led training and research centre into pioneering mission has launched

Urban LifeThe initiative, called Urban Life: Networking for Mission in Marginal Places, brings together the church-planting agency Urban Expression in partnership with Bristol Baptist College, BMS World Mission and the Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB). The latter has provided the funding for the first five years of the initiative. 

It will focus on delivering training and developing capacity for ‘innovative and pioneering approaches to ministry and mission in marginalised and deprived places’, said Urban Expression founder and Bristol tutor Stuart Murray Williams.

This will be delivered to groups and teams in their own contexts so that ‘whole teams can learn together and their learning journey will be tailored to their own local situation,’ he added.

Urban Life will provide courses for colleges at degree and masters levels with the intention of encouraging stronger missional approaches to training. PhD students who have a vision for researching key areas in relation to urban mission will also be recruited. 

Mike PearsMike Pears (pictured), an accredited Baptist minister and member of an Urban Expression team in Bristol, will be responsible for facilitating Urban Life.

The new centre has been welcomed by General Secretary Lynn Green, who said, ‘When I came into my post I said we needed an explosion of pioneers.
‘We are delighted to be supporting this centre, which will help equip those already in pioneering situations and would-be pioneers looking to explore a call to mission in the most marginalised communities.’

To mark the launch of Urban Life, two free webinars exploring the theme of mission in marginal places have been organised, both led by Mike.

Urban Life webinarThe first takes place on 21 May, called Mission in Marginal Places: engaging with power. This will explore key questions related to the stigmatisation of ‘problem estates’. What is marginalisation? Why does it affect people so powerfully? What does mission look like in marginal places?

The second webinar is on 10 June, and is called Researching Neighbourhoods: practical tools for a prophetic community. This seminar will introduce some practical tools for getting to know a neighbourhood. It is difficult to see beyond the obvious or get under the skin of a place, and we often settle for a superficial understanding.

Getting to know our neighbourhood more deeply will change us and challenge us in unexpected ways. It will open our eyes to what Jesus is doing around us and help us to be a prophetic church.

The webinars have been pulled together as part of an ongoing string of pilot webinars offered by a partnership between BMS, UE, Bristol College and Church of The Brethren.

Each webinar starts at 7.30pm and lasts 60 minutes. To register for either or both of these webinars, email Stuart Murray Williams at stuart@murraywilliams.co.uk and you will be given details of how to access them (there is no cost)

Contact Mike Pears about Urban Life at mikepears@hotmail.co.uk

Baptist Times, 08/05/2014
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