Monthly Archives: July 2010

Celebrating Fr Basil

Over 200 worshippers gathered on Sunday evening to honour Fr Basil Jellicoe, in this 75th anniversary year of his death.  The service, at St Martin-in-the-Fields, included readings and prayers by Jellicoe Interns, and a sermon by the Bishop of London.  This was followed by a reception with presentations by the interns on their work this month and songs from Jellicoe: The Musical – first performed in 2003.

St Martin’s was chosen because Fr Basil ministered there towards the end of his life.  The evening included testimony from the daughter of the then Vicar, who recalled his ministry in the parish.

We are grateful to Origin Housing – the successor body to Fr Basil’s St Pancras House Improvement Society – for helping to fund the reception, and for St Martin’s for hosting this inspiring event.

Two weeks in Newham

Daniel Stone is a Jellicoe Intern based in Newham, East London – and a student of Economics and Management at St Peter’s College Oxford.  He blogs on his first two weeks on placement:

From the Barclays Tower in Canary Wharf to a small church hall in Stratford, the life of a Community Organiser is never dull! Two weeks ago I would have thought that people from such disparate ways of life would have nothing in common save their constant disappointment with the England football team! But I now realise that the link of commonality that binds people together runs deeper than material similarities towards motivations, frustrations and the answer to the famous community organisers’ question ‘What makes you angry?’

For many people in London regardless of their background; inner-city violence and the unneccessary death of countless numbers of young people makes them angry. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (meeting in Barclays Tower) is connected to countless numbers of people motivated by their faith, commitment to social justice or the heartache of personal bereavment, in wanting to make a difference so that future generations aren’t bound in a culture of fear and violence.

What is perhaps of greater concern is the sense of hopelessness that people find themselves in – a hopelessness that sees the 22 teenage deaths that have occured over the last 18 months as being something that is out of control and out of their hands. This simply isn’t the case and I have been encouraged by the organisations I have seen so far who are attempting to take up the gauntlet thrown down by the City Safe campaign, to tackle knife crime head on instead of passing responsibility onto the police.

One such community is that of the ARC based in Forest Gate, a church that 5 years ago was galvanized into action by the murder of one of their young people, Charlotte Polius. The vision of the church leadership and the enthusiasm of their young people has meant that rather than stirring up interest, the emphasis of my internship has been on building relationships and opening lines of communication with other members of their local community to act together for change.

I have come to realise the simplicity of community organising and just how beautiful this simplicity is! It is based purely on relationships – talking and acting with your neighbour – and is then something that we should all do naturally as relational beings. We introduced a number of young people to the City Safe campaign last week. During the meeting a young lady said that there wasn’t enough for young people to do and that one possible solution could be to encourage young people to take up boxing. Earlier that very same day we had been speaking to a former Ugandan Olympic boxer who wanted to expand his boxing programme to include more young people from Forest Gate!
The mission statement of the ARC is ‘keeping it simple, keeping it radical and always keeping it real’. For me this perhaps best sums up the aims of City Safe in that the issues of knife crime won’t be solved over night but by taking small steps to implement what we still sadly consider to be ‘radical’ ideas of community cohesion we can perhaps begin to change things.

From a programme to a movement

The Jellicoe Community began as a programme for summer and year-round interns.  Out of this is beginning to grow a broader movement of students and young people committed to prayer, reflection and action.  The Mercers Company has just given the Contextual Theology Centre a grant which will enable it to employ Laurence Mills – one of the first Jellicoe Interns – to spend the autumn developing this wider community of young Christians.  So watch this space…

Summer internship: reflections on week one

Tom Daggett is one of fourteen students currently interning with the Jellicoe Community.  He is based at the Salvation Army in Stepney. Here he writes about his experiences in the first week:
Community organising was something new to me when I was introduced to the Jellicoe Community, but when it was explained, it made so much sense, and I couldn’t wait to get involved. Much more than with typical internships, undertaken by typical Oxbridge students, this one excited me because of the prospect of engaging with people’s actual lives, of dealing with what it is that makes us human, of being able to offer my own experiences in dialogue with others’.

In the past two weeks, I’ve grappled with and reflected upon drug abuse, generational conflict, disability, racism, overcrowding, idleness, death, fear, and the relationship of these to faith. It would be easy to draw very negative conclusions about the Ocean Estate (supposedly one of the most economically deprived in the country), but I now know that there are people who are genuinely changing the area through friendship, leadership, and belief in God. I’ve had meetings with: exciting new committees on the estate; with people who have turned their lives around and who now inspire others through their own amazing stories; with local churches; with civil servants; with Oxbridge professionals; with the elderly; with evangelists; and with those sceptical of what I’m doing.

One inspirational experience has been to witness the homeless football team, which Nick Coke, Salvation Army Captain, helps to run. Each with their own difficult histories (and some without, but who just enjoy a bit of sport), the lads (mostly early 20s, representing diverse racial backgrounds) come together once a week to play a tournament, have a free lunch in a local church, and are invited to attend a non-compulsory bible study, after the lunch. It was remarkable to see how many chose to stay, and how each took the study seriously, making wise contributions which pertained to their own stories. The brotherhood that was fostered around those fold-away tables was astounding, and after speaking openly with these guys, I felt part of it. I shall never forget it; in that church hall I discovered so much humility.

This month, I’ll be working towards a long-term plan that will help local institutions in Stepney to support each other in London Citizens’ “City Safe haven” scheme. My one-to-one meetings will drive my work, and it’ll be great to get these people involved. It’s been great to get to know the other interns, too, whether over a curry, or over a pint whilst watching the world cup final!

75 years on…

Fr Basil Jellicoe – slum priest, housing reformer and the inspiration behind today’s Jellicoe Community – died 75 years ago.  The anniversary will be marked with a special Choral Evensong at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London – with a sermon by the Bishop of London, and a drinks reception with this summer’s Jellicoe InternsAll are welcome.