Are things changing for homeless people in Manchester?

MCM Director, Terry Durose

Yesterday I attended a meeting of the Mosaic Justice Network.  This network brings together christian organisations that are involved in social action projects in Manchester.  It provides a great forum for exchanging information and gives us fantastic opportunity to understand each other’s projects.

Homelessness figured highly in our discussions – again!

There was great interest in Andy Burnham’s plans to relieve the misery caused by homelessness in Greater Manchester, and there was no doubting the sincerity of his intentions.

Moreover, a recent MJN Street Stories event, which Mr Burnham participated in, had clearly encouraged members of network in their hope that that groups would be considered to be a valuable part of the initiative to deal with homelessness.

In our small group we had an opportunity to discuss the work that faith based homeless shelters were doing in Manchester.  For a long time it has felt that Manchester City Mission’s Narrowgate Project had been a lone voice in the wilderness.  That is clearly no longer the case, and I was thrilled to find out more about new projects and more recent developments in this area.

Eventually all this optimism about the future of faith based projects for homeless people began to raise a question in my mind.  How many of these faith based shelter projects had actually been visited by Andy Burnham?  My question was initially met with a number of blank stares.  One group member then announced that Mr Burnham would be visiting his project project next month.  Others simply shook their heads.   Later I was told privately by one group member that his organisation felt that they were being held at arms length.

We understand.  As soon as Andy Burnham was elected, both Barry Matley, our Narrowgate Manager and I wrote to invite him to visit the Narrowgate.  We had no agenda other than to let him experience first hand a project that had been working successfully for over seven years, if only to let him see what can be achieved.

For most of that seven year period, we knew of no other Manchester initiative that offered year round, general purpose emergency access provision.  In the last seven years we have had just short of 3,000 people stay with us, including 455 in the last 12 months alone!

We appreciate that our Mayor and his team are very busy, and we are aware that we are not the only organisation trying to make a difference, but given the achievements of the last 7 years, it feels odd that we are still waiting for a visit.

After the MJN meeting I walked back though the city centre, noticing again the significant number of people living on the streets of Manchester.  My thoughts went to Jesus’ statement from John 12:8 “the poor you always have with you,..”.   This wasn’t  fatalism, but rather a realistic assessment of the situation.  There will always be poverty and inequality because those with power use that power to hold onto power.  Greed, self interest, and ambition seem to perpetuate the status quo.

As someone who voted for him, I wish Andy Burnham every success in his quest to fix Manchester’s homeless problem.  Are things changing for the homeless people in Manchester? Let’s hope so

by Terry Durose

Manchester Arena Attrocitities

Terry Durose, MCM Director

I’m working today hampered by a lingering sick headache and trying, not entirely successfully, to hold back tears.  Like many this morning I woke to the news that there had been a suspected terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena. Twenty two people lost their lives and dozens more have been injured. It’s impossible to estimate how many have been emotionally traumatised by this despicable, cowardly act.

 

The fact that the target was a pop concert, and one that would have been largely attended by young girls takes our disbelief and horror to a new level.  One wonders at what might have motivated such an atrocity. What cause could have possibly been furthered by such violence? What perceived benefit could there be, that might be worth killing children for or indeed dying for?

This may be incomprehensible to us but we should not be blind to a simple truth. These murders made perfect sense to the person or people that carried them out. Their thinking has been warped by a Satanic deception that makes it  seem honourable to them to kill children and destroy lives.

Many of us today are wondering what we can do to help. As Christians we have weapons of righteousness that must be brought to bear. We must continue to love those who consider themselves to be our enemies. We must pray. We must persevere in our duty to proclaim the Gospel.  Only then can we expect those whose understanding is shrouded in evil darkness  to see the one true light.

MCM’s Clear Message

Terry Durose, Director, MCM

It often astounds me how much effort we have to put into keeping people out of church.  As I am writing this piece two workmen are hard at work servicing the shutters that protect our church’s windows and doors.  The shutters may not be the prettiest things on earth but they are very necessary if we plan to keep our building safe.

Sadly, there may be barriers that stop people coming into church when we want them to attend.  People feel nervous when they first walk through the doors of a church and need to feel welcome.  A church member’s frowning face or a church full of cliques can be harder to get over than a barbed wire fence!

I have few anxieties on that front for my own church. On the whole we seem to be a friendly bunch who go out of our way to make people feel at home.  My concern is about getting believers out of church and into the community.

For the last ten years, MCM has been building its work on three missional concepts, Incarnation, Compassion, and Proclamation.  Incarnation is love entering the world of the people we want to reach.  Compassion is love responding to the unmet needs we encounter and Proclamation is love declaring the unsearchable riches of Christ.

Putting any of these concepts into practices requires a measure of courage, but in my experience Incarnation seems to be the hardest of the three.  To be intentionally and missionaly present amongst your friends, neighbours, workmates and even family requires a level of vulnerability that most of us would find uncomfortable.

And yet Jesus sends his followers out as lambs amongst wolves.  The clear message is that to be “sent out” by Jesus means that we will be vulnerable.

By the time the workmen have finished servicing the church shutters, I will feel that the church building is once again safe. That’s good. Church should be a safe place, at least in some respects.

However, church should not be a fortress where believers are barricaded in to keep them safe from the world.  We are a sent people.

by Terry Durose

Small things CAN grow!

Terry Durise

Terry Durose – Diector, MCM

The least one shall become a clan, and the smallest one a mighty nation; I am the LORD; in its time I will hasten it. Is. 60:22

As well as being the Director of Manchester City Mission I am also the Pastor of a small church in my home town of Oldham. Back in 2002, a group of us from different churches felt the call to plant a church in a part of the town called Moorside. The journey has been a fantastic mixture of frustration and joy, disappointment and elation.

It goes without saying then, that I have the greatest respect for all church leaders, especially those who are leading “the least” and the “smallest” churches.

Isaiah 60:22 is a verse that I love and that I pray through most if not every day. It’s a promise that is only applicable to “the least” and “the smallest”. The great and the mighty have no part in it, except maybe to look back to humble origins with gratitude.

It’s a reminder that God is a God of “suddenlies”. In its time he will hasten it!  Growth may not come for season after season, and yet when God moves, he moves all at once and suddenly the empty seats start to fill up and the leadership team start discussing a larger building. We cannot predict the future based upon the present, and dare not be discouraged by present smallness. For this we need steadfastness.

It’s also a reminder that “He is the Lord”. The latest church growth model or evangelistic fad does not impress him. He produces growth “in its time”, meaning when He sees the time is right. Too soon, and the church may crumble on weak foundations. Too late and it may wither with discouragement. For this we need patience.

Its a reminder that God is a God of multiplication. This is how he revealed himself in the garden, as well as to Abraham. It is also how we see him revealed in Acts. For those in a season of “least” or “smallest”, this requires faith to see what God can do with the smallest seed.

MCM is committed to seeing the churches in Manchester grow. We honour the biblical partnership between the local church and the missionary band. We do what we do both “with” and “for” the local churches. It is a holy symbiosis that brings glory to him.