The City Mission for Manchester based in the Windsor Christian Centre in Salford, has been a beacon of hope for the city since 1837. Its curent Director, Terry Durose heads the work in the city among homeless people and all who need to hear of the love of Jesus.
The three pillars of the work of Manchester City Mission are Incarnation – entering into the world of the people they are trying to reach, Compassion – responding to people’s unmet needs and Proclamation – telling the world about the unsearchable reaches of Christ. The three come together in the work of the Mission.
The home base of the Mission in Salford hosts the Narrowgate shelter, an emergency-access shelter for homeless people. It has thirty beds and is full every night, providing dormitory accommodation, showers, food and hospitality for those in need. Terry says that first thing the shelter offers people is an escape from the ‘fog’ of homelesness. By providing people the essentials of life, they can start to see beyond just surviving to a broader perspective in life.
As well as its shelter Manchester City Mission works with homless people on the city streets, supports Iranian refugees, takes services in retirement homes and is involved in many primary schools in the region through its Groundbreakers project, which creates links between schools and local churches.
Manchester City Mission can be contacted through its website or by phone on 0161 736 7959. They have opportunties for volunteering, especially in their Narrowgate project.
“God wants you to know that you’re valuable to Him”
In Episode 5 of the Faith in Manchester podcast we meet Sid Williams, who has moved from running the Eden bus ministry of The Message Trust to running his own homeless shelter on the Embassy bus.
The Embassy bus is a former luxury tour bus used by bands such as Snow Patrol and Coldplay, now adapted as a temporary base for homeless men in Manchester. Sid Williams says he had a clear call from God through a picture he received to serve young people and them to serve homeless people. So leaving a career in graphic design he moved to Harpurhey to work with local young people, and is now seeking to serve homeless men across Manchester.
Sid Williams is full of stories of the people the bus has helped in the few months it has been operating. One is the ex-soldier with PTSD who has been helped into a home and a job. Another is the man who had lost touch with his mother after he had been in prison, but after prayer for the family his mother called him and sought a reconciliation.
Sid says it’s important the bus has comfortable features and proper heating. He says the quality of the bus speaks of the dignity that it offers homeless people. And the bus also helps volunteers grow in faith and in confidence as well as allowing people to spend time with the poor. The bus ministry is called Embassy because they are ambassadors of Christ and offer a place of safety and refuge.
The Embassy bus work is always looking for new volunteers from among the Christian community in the Manchester area. If you’d like to get involved or to find out more, go to http:/embassybus.org .
Singer and former politician Dana, now appearing in the BBC programme Pilgrimage, opened the Christian Resources Exhibition on its return to Manchester.
In the opening ceremony children from St Leonard’s Primary School, Padiham, sang a re-written version of Dana’s 1970 Eurovision song, “All Kinds of Everything”. Dana welcomed a large crowd to the Exhibition and said it was a place she loved to visit.
Dana spoke to us at Faith in Manchester for an episode of our podcast. She told us about taking part in the BBC series Pilgrimage and opportunites to witness to her faith in words and actions on the walk to Rome.
Dana also spoke to Wayne Clarke about her singing career and the new commercial album she is currently recording in Italy. We also asked her about Brexit and as a former Independent Member of the European Parliament she has strong opinions about the removal of Christianity from Europe.
The Christian Resources Exhibition was well attended, with more than 400 churches represented and included stands from 150 exhibitors and more than 30 seminars covering areas like cyber security and safeguarding in church.
Good News was proclaimed in words and music in the Manchester Academy to a wildly enthusiastic crowd of over a thousand worshippers, as Rend Collective came back to the city as part of their latest tour, following the release of their chart-topping album, “Good News”.
First on stage was “Trinity Worship Project”, a collective of musos from the Worship Arts programme at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, Canada where Rend Collective have been working recently. The band, led by Mitchell Janzen and Kaleb Janzen on guitars and vocals, opened with the hymn All Creatures of our God and King and followed with some bright original songs. They were received with generous appreciation by the crowds.
The next artist thanked his audience for “putting up with some rap when they’d come for a folk band”. But this was not Shaggy at the Queen’s birthday party. This was Guvna B, and not a person in the hall was merely putting up with him. Guvna B, sharing the vast stage with just a drummer, owned the whole space with his boundless energy and humour. Even those who didn’t know his music were drawn in by his personality. What was also clear was his Christian faith – proudly proclaimed as a force for goodness and justice. If ever an artist left an audience wanting more it was Guvna B’s all too brief appearance.
Then came the group that even their leader Gareth Gilkeson calls “the Christian version of Mumford and Sons”. “Though at least we’re really Irish”, he adds, wryly. These days Rend Collective are folk-rock and more rock than folk. Once they would be swapping a dozen instruments between them in every song, now they are more likely to stick to guitars, bass, piano and drum kit – though we did see the odd appearance of the fiddle, the mandolin, the uke, and even the hurdy-gurdy.
Seven of the songs in their ninety-minute set were from the latest album, and presented in a way very familiar to those who knew the recording. Some oldies were there as well. “Build Your Kingdom Here” was included early on, and “My Lighthouse” predictably appeared in the encore.
Tracks from the new album came thick and fast: “Life is Beautiful”, “I will be Undignified”, “Marching On”. The crowd loved the confident proclamation of “Resurrection Day” and the more plaintiff “Counting Every Blessing”. For me the strongest new song is “Rescuer” with its strong clear lyrics, proclaiming God’s saving power and its nu-folk arrangement, complete with shouted “heys”.
A Rend gig is more than a show – it’s an encounter with God and with his people. The message from the stage is that there are no superstars in the kingdom of God, only worshippers. We were here to offer ourselves in praise to our Creator, not to a bunch of musicians, and praise we did. We also got a sermon as Gareth Gilkeson put down his drumsticks to preach a word of hope based around the message of the tour: bringing good news.
Rend Collective bring Good News in their exuberant music, in the joy of God they show through all they do and in their message of hope. They are a gift to the Church. Their visit to Manchester was an encouragement to those who were there. Their message, though, was that the Good News was to be transformative – not just for one gig but for changing the world.
Michael Harvey, who came up with the idea of Back to Church Sunday while he was working with Manchester Anglican Diocese, is now spearheading its successor, the Weekend of Invitation. The Weekend, which runs from June 15 to 17 2018, encourages people in churches to invite people to events at their home or at their church.
Michael wants to emphasise that success is not whether the people being invited say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to an invitation to a church event, success is the faithfulness of doing the inviting. The response, he says, is down to God.