Blue Top Christians and their place in the world

Much of my work time at the Diocese of Leeds is spent working out who we are, what’s going on and why we are here. It’s easy to mock organisations for struggling with these questions but actually these are really big life questions for us all to grapple with.

I can’t help feeling that global political events can be understood at a very personal level in terms of identity, belonging, freedom and generosity.  We want confidence in who we are and what we are good at; we want to belong to something we can call a national family; we want our independence.

The really exciting “want” or desire is to to be able to give. There is an instinct within most people to want to give something to the word and make a difference. Thank God for that. The only problem is that some people have a very small world, or a very selective world, so the challenge for me is to see bigger, see wider, see deeper.

I risk of becoming too serious, so here is something about growing the church.  The Church of England wants more people to come to church.  The question for me is not just about bums on seats.  Here I use the labelling of milk as a handy analogy  – and just to make it clear,  I’m no shining example, I think I’m stuck on Greet Top with an aspiration for Red Top.

Red Top: Skimmed Christians
They come to church for the exciting bits and skim off anything that’s difficult to digest; Perhaps when something big happens in their life like christenings, weddings, funerals and so on. Oh, and carols by candlelight is lovely.

Green Top: Semi-Skimmed Christians
They come to church most Sundays but this is largely a health routine in line with their philosophy of “everything in moderation”. The playgroup is great for the kids and after a busy week it helps recharge my batteries. 

Blue Top: Whole Christians
They live their faith seven days a week and leave nothing out when it comes to being guided by God. They pray and worship God every day each in their own unique way. They want to see everyone living as God intended – flourishing together, free from poverty, inequality and injustice.

Hope on the Edge – Prayer Our City

Wellsprings Together Bradford and Welfare Reform Impact Bradford are local organisation (or which I’m a part) help inspire and coordinate poverty responses among the faith groups. Twice a year they put on an event called Hope on the Edge at Bradford Cathedral which aims to bring together those working to alleviate poverty and transform communities.

On Sunday May the 7th our gathering this time will focus on HOPE for our Bradford Episcopal Area. Representatives of churches, groups and organisations from across the district are invited for a time of creative reflection and prayer.

You will be able to engage with a range of varied prayer styles – explore stillness; reflect through art and music; pray corporately, urgently and creatively.  Listen to Stories of Hope emerging in Bradford – seeds that indicate the new potential in times of adversity and disappointment.

Join us for an evening of creative prayer in Bradford Cathedral on Sunday May 7th from 7.00 pm to 8.30 pm.

Just turn up or let us know you’re coming on this link

More info


What makes a flourishing city?

Went to an inspiring evening at Bradford Cathedral last night bringing together a wide representation of people representing the City. Flourishing City asked what it takes for a city to flourish. There were some very influential people there including senior management from the council, church leaders, faith groups and activists. Here are my notes.

Jerry Lepine the dean was great. I have to applaud his enthusiasm for the subject of ‘city’ and the welcome he gave. He introduced the evening by saying the cathedral belongs to the City – “it is your cathedral” he said.

We are not about just delivering big shiny boxes, we must step back and allow the next generation to come through endlessly curious, telling stories and connecting people.  [Kersten England]

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Digital Mental Health Checker

The government estimates that one in four people in the UK will suffer from a mental disorder (whatever is meant by that), and that the cost will be £105 billion to the economy. Shockingly 75 per cent of problems will start in young people starting by the age of 18. But is this just about numbers?


A distressing number of young people are on the edge of their emotional capacity, and indeed there have been three tragedies among teenagers which have come to my attention in the last few weeks. I can’t begin to imagine how we cope with that.

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In Search of Welcome

Here’s a little piece about welcome from Charles E. Rice.  In it he talks about everyone’s search for welcome as a search for ‘home’.

Even better, he says, is giving welcome. When we offer our fellow pilgrims welcome we find “the welcome we ran home to on cold or lonely nights”, it is “portable, elusive and holy”. 

Charles seems to be pointing to the kind of welcome that brings the eternal concept of home into the ordinary experiences we share.

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Reconnecting with ourselves, with each other and with God

I went to Wakefield today to do some mission planning work. Unusually I took a break to get lunch from a very impressive sandwich shop. The friendly owner was eager to share thoughts about how Brexit would impact on the local people. I took my sandwich to the cathedral which provides a welcoming and accessible space for prayer and reflection.



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Who is my neighbour?

A really wonderful discussion last night led by Bishop Toby Howarth and organised by the Thinking Faith Network in Thornbury, Bradford.  The bishop took the parable of the Good Samaritan and the question to which it responded.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ … and, Love your neighbour as yourself.

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Places of Welcome in Bradford

POW-smallAs part of my job I am working towards setting up a number of places of welcome across Bradford. Places of Welcome is a specific idea pioneered out of a city wide consultation in Birmingham about what makes a city welcoming. The Diocese of Birmingham then set up the Places of Welcome network.

A Place of Welcome has a sign outside a building saying come on in. Places of welcome is not a new idea but what I like about this version of it is that it’s a very clear and simple proposition based on five principles; It has a very clear set of values and an ethos to which supporters can readily subscribe. Continue reading “Places of Welcome in Bradford”

Voices in Craven

Getting back into the swing of work after our holiday in Venice. A tough transition!

A20422118284_a71f54989c note from Rev David Houlton one of our rural officer for the diocese gave me great joy.  All this month there is an initiative called Voices in Craven which is encouraging local people to engage with their local churches.  Throughout June there will be a number of vocal performance events of various flavours – these range from Jazz performances to traditional church music.

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