JSP arrives in Birmingham

Photo of St Bedes Church, Brandwood

,,,,We asked Andy Delmege, Vicar of St Bedes, Brandwood in the Birmingham Diocese to tell us the story of how 'Jesus Shaped People' made an impact in his estate-based parish. Read on for his story,

I’m currently Vicar of St Bede’s, Brandwood in Birmingham. I convene Strengthening Estates Ministry, a group for clergy and church leaders ministering on estates in the diocese. Until recently I was also Priest in Charge of St Gabriel’s, Weoley Castle (where we also did Jesus Shaped People). I’ve also been Chaplain with Deaf People in the Diocese. Before ordination I worked with homeless people in London.

Brandwood is a mainly residential area on the southern edge of Birmingham. The parish is split into several different parts by roads, railway lines and a canal. The Local Authority is the major employer. St Bede’s Church is set in a corner of the parish. It’s in the most deprived part in an area of mostly council housing.

The original Church was burnt down 20 years ago. Our new building has plenty of community space and we are able to welcome a large number of community groups each week. There are about 45 of us of all ages. Most members of St Bede’s live close to the Church.

I first heard about JSP when I was looking around at resources to help people in estate churches to grow on confidence and faith. Someone suggested talking to Gordon and I got him to come to Birmingham to take part in a conference we were doing on estate churches and lay training.

JSP seemed to fit very well with the needs of St Bede’s – we had worked out a model where the people are the Church and I help them, but were at a stage where we needed to renew our vision.

We did JSP from autumn 2013 through to early 2014. Gordon helped us prepare, and we used it on Sundays (with the children really enjoying it in Sunday School) and in a couple of weekly groups. About half the congregation came to the groups. It’s given us quite a sense of purpose and excitement.

In practical terms, we are reaching out to some of the groups who use our building through charity cake sales and craft activities for the children. It’s given people much more confidence and a feeling of really belonging to and being part of the Church. People really enjoyed it – even coming out in mid-winter, it was fun.

At the moment, we’re carrying on with it in a couple of ways. We’ve been looking at what people’s gifts are or might be. As a result of this we are renewing our pastoral work. We have also identified people who might be called to Reader Ministry.

Whenever we think about doing anything, we ask whether it is Jesus Shaped. The next year or two will be really interesting as we see where God leads us and how people grow in all this.

Jesus Shaped People has certainly helped St Bede’s to be good soil...