Out on the road
by Charlotte Sibtain
“On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been.
Seein' things that I may never see again
And I can't wait to get on the road again….”
One of the great things about working for the Research & Stats unit is the chance to travel around the country visiting parishes, dioceses and our fellow research colleagues. Lincoln, Leicester, Truro, Guildford, Norwich, Oxford, Sheffield, Birmingham have all had a visit from one of the team over the last couple of years.
In March Ken and I had the pleasure of going to see the team at the Church Army Research Unit up in Sheffield. This was a great occasion for us all to catch up and share the various projects we have been working on. It was also the perfect opportunity to pick their expert brains about all things Fresh Expressions. As a team we are aware of some of the important work parishes are doing (Messy Church, Café Church, etc.) but it can be quite challenging to ascertain whether they are “fresh expressions of church” or other forms of outreach/worship. Indeed the Church Army have invested countless hours in talking to parishes to understand how they are growing new church communities through fresh expressions, which is why it is so important for us to work in collaboration with the experts! Ken and I came away feeling re-energised by our afternoon with the Research Unit and although there is still a way to go, we now feel ready to take on the challenge of better understanding fresh expressions (albeit with the help of the Church Army team!).
We were also fortunate to attend the Centre for Church Growth conference in Roehampton at the end of February. Nestled within the beautiful grounds of Whitelands College, the conference sought to further explore the work presented in the book ‘Church Growth and Decline in the Anglican Communion, 1980 – Present” Edited by David Goodhew. The day was a heady mix of research from all over the globe (including: Nigeria, USA, South America, Congo and Ghana) which enabled us to not only think critically about the wider Anglican Communion but it also meant that we could really engage with Anglicanism beyond the Church of England.
Next stop for the whole team is Birmingham for our annual Faith in Research conference, see you there!