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Understanding marginalisation through conversation 

A new initiative for those interested in understanding more about the way in which Christian mission engages with communities who experience deprivation and exclusion has launched

Earphones300Creative Conversations is a collaborative project between Urban Life and CMS Pioneer Leadership Training. Similar to Radio 4’s Listening Project, it involves making audio recordings of conversations between small groups of people followed by some careful and thoughtful analysis.

The project was launched last month (April) and involves a group of 14 people around the country - all of whom are deeply involved in a wide variety of marginal and deprived communities – convening a series of conversations in their communities.

Those they are speaking to are drawn from a whole variety of people on the margins: the elderly, ethnic minorities, even people from the punk scene in Wales. The recordings will be placed online later in the year, alongside introductory notes which will provide an analysis and reflection on the content.

There are a number of aims, explained Urban Life co-ordinator Mike Pears, both in terms of research and to foster among those involved in pioneer mission “a deeper habit of attentiveness and awareness of their own context”.

‘Creative Conversations’ is designed to assist churches and those involved in urban mission to develop a deeper awareness of their own location or context,’ said Mike.

‘Its specific aim is to help Christian groups explore the everyday lived experiences of those who find themselves marginalised from mainstream society and, through their growing awareness of the issues, to frame thoughtful and practical responses.

‘So at one level it’s a research method – documenting what’s going in an area. At another level it’s engaging people to learn to listen more deeply, and look at what’s going on around them.’

In part two of the project, communities from around the country will be invited to record their own Creative Conversations and contribute to a growing online library of conversations.

It’s been a busy time for Urban Life, which itself only launched last year. Since the beginning of 2015 it has been facilitating two “Theology-to-go” groups, one in Birmingham, the other Bristol.

Theology-to-go is for Christians involved in a wide variety of urban situations and who want to join others to reflect theologically upon the issues they face. It takes place over eight, three hour sessions. Urban Life facilitates the group with a local co-host.

The Birmingham group features mostly Baptist ministers while the Bristol group is more diverse ecumenically. Both are going well, says Mike, according to feedback and attendance.

Urban Life now hope to introduce more Theology-to-go groups next year, and is looking for people who may have an interest in hosting them in their area. Contact Mike at mpears@urbanlife.org

To keep up with Urban Life news, sign up for its regular mailing at www.urbanlife.org

Picture: ColinBrough/RGBStock


Baptist Times, 28/05/2015
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