Hannah and Dave Batchelor are church planting with Urban Expression on the Troydale Estate
Dave and I moved to Manchester in 2004 after being involved with Urban Expression in East London for 3 and 6 years respectively. We chose to move to Newton Heath because my parents, Derek and Maureen Purnell, had been dreaming of planting on the Troydale Estate for a number of years. They have been on the estate for 26 years and are still living in the house I grew up in.
After being involved in leadership of the local independent evangelical church (which was largely made up of working class people travelling from within a mile radius) for a number of years Derek came to the conclusion that in order for any mission to have a lasting impact on the Troydale estate it was necessary to church plant. It seemed that though a number of individuals and families from the Troydale Estate attended events and special services at the church, a long-term commitment to the church community seemed elusive.
The estate is made up of around two thirds council/housing association homes and the rest owner occupied or privately rented. There are around 400 homes. It is mostly white working class but more recently has had a scattering of individuals of varying nationalities, notably African and Middle Eastern.
When Dave and I arrived in Manchester in October 2004 we joined Derek and Maureen and another younger couple who were able to get a council house on the estate the following summer. In early 2006 we were joined by Kate, a single woman, who lives in Newton Heath. We bought the house we were renting last December.
The vision – what does it look like?
Psalm 68:5-6, ‘God sets the lonely in families’, Zechariah 8:4-6, ‘men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets… the city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there’
Over time these two passages have become our mission statement and really reflect the needs of people on the Troydale estate. We hope to bring Shalom to the estate and see transformation in body, mind and spirit.
Our ‘strategy’ so far has various strands, firstly to develop mutual relationships with neighbours, getting involved in the life of the community. We have been developing relationships with neighbours. We’ve been blessed by people’s generosity and have been able to share in their joys and sorrows. Secondly, the hope is that following a community survey completed last year (analysis still in progress) we will be able to establish focus groups discussing issues that people face on the estate. In time we hope that these groups may develop into Discovery Bible Groups. Alongside this, Dave and Hannah plan to develop a work with the young people on the estate where there is literally nothing for them to do and no statutory provision. We hope that one day we might see a Discovery Bible Group for the young people. We are looking to recruit a couple of youth workers to join us in this. We are developing relationships with local churches and two local church plants and see ways that we can work together to achieve our goals of seeing lives changed for good (one Church, many congregations). Other dreams we have is to develop work in debt advice, some kind of organised support system like Homestart.
We are still view ourselves as a church plant team rather than a church plant. And the intention has been to see church grow from discovery groups in people’s homes.
Hannah and Maureen started a girls group in November (09) with a small group of girls from the estate. So far we have been able to take them on a trip on the Manchester Wheel and Bowling and we are working on a rotation of art & craft, movie night, games and cooking. In addition we have a beautician friend coming over to show us how to look after our nails, there is potential for a free Mac workshop at the Apple Store and a trip around the new BBC centre in Salford. It's not what you know... We have had lots of support from the local Housing Association, the tenants committee, local councilors and most importantly from parents. We are hoping very soon to move the group from our home into the house that is used (very little) by the tenants association. Last week (Feb 2010) we received our first bit of funding; a cash grant from the local council, the hope is to get some more funding to make the space in Dolwen House more comfy.
Derek, Maureen and Hannah were are now involved with Tenants & Residents Association committee. This is a great opportunity to encourage the existing committee members who are somewhat disillusioned. This is likely to be a long hard slog. We hope to help the existing committee to see how we can encourage the involvement of other residents with positive incentives.
Current thoughts and questions