There are many ways in which churches engage with the new housing agenda, usually by working together and engaging with The Big Picture and praying through the process, considering Where it alll begins.
How to Engage with Planning is a separate page, here we shall consider 6 Models of Church Planting in New Housing Areas and in particular the variety of Pioneer Ministers, Community Chaplains, Fresh Expression Missioners, Community Development Workers, Church Army Evangelists, Salvation Army Officers and other church leaders particularly serving in new housing areas.
The context of each is different and the person themselves brings a personality, individual call, background, experience and talent. Sharing the stories can be an encouragement and opportunity to learn. Here are a few examples.
Paul Goodliff reflected on the various ways churches have engaged with the new housing agenda in Bicester. This was in a talk given to members of the Churches Group for New Housing 8th November 2018 and recorded:
Ebbsfleet, an example in North Kent
This is snapshot of various examples of how the churches are engaging with the new housing agenda and comes from a visit of members of the Churches Group for New Housing Areas on 8th June 2017.
Ebbsfleet, or Ebbsfleet VallIey is a Thames Gateway development that anticipates an extra population of 40,000 in 15,000 new homes on brown field sites between the Dartford Crossing and Northfleet. It has an international railway station on the high speed line to Paris, and is home of the Bluewater shopping complex, one of the largest in Europe, with over 300 stores. A further major development plan is for a £3.5m Disneyland style theme park to be built beside the River Thames.
Key church leaders of different churches have engaged with the planning and development over the years and a Churches Together group was formed specifically for the purpose of cordinating a response. Existing churches serve the area from beside the development area and several churches have planted new congregations in the new housing area, eg Grace Baptist Church and Eastgate Independant Church.
Various other denominations have groups meeting in the new housing area, while the Church of England are considering planting a new ‘Minster’ church. Methodist involvement includes a Chaplain for the Bluewater Shopping Complex, that includes a dedicated prayer space, and a Pioneer Minister with a Community Cafe and local school involvement in the Bridge Development nearby. Serving the whole area is a Baptist Pioneer Minister who has been elected to represent the local community groups in the central planning team of the development corporation, while another Baptist Minister bought one of the first houses available on an estate for his ministry in retirement.
The latest development as of February 2018 is that a Christian school – Hope Community School – which has been approved to provide primary education for 420 pupils.
This snapshot illustrates the role of existing churches, a new Chrches Together group, church plants, pioneer ministers, community chaplains, ministers in retirement, education and working closely with the development corporation.