Advent 2017 - Week One

The YBA’s Advent 2017 series.

 logo advent 2017Week One - Stepping out to offer Hope

A story and Advent reflection by the Revds Andy and Jo Williams, ministers at Blackley Baptist Church, near Halifax.

The Blackley Centre – a vision for peace, reconciliation and hope.

FOR many years the Blackley Centre has been a place for churches, and others, to come for retreats, training and away days, with wonderful food available from the church.

Blackley CentreSituated where we are, near the M62, it has been well used by churches across the YBA and beyond, and the church has become known for its hospitality. When we came to Blackley as prospective Joint Ministers we were clear to the church that we had a vision for a centre for peace and reconciliation work, and interfaith relations, and following our call to the church, we have been working with the church to make this centre a reality at Blackley.

blackley centreThe new Blackley Centre, with its strapline ‘Relate, Restore, Reconcile, is a place which we hope will offer mediation and conflict transformation work for ministers, churches and communities, and also help us all foster and develop good relationships with people of other faiths.

We will offer training and courses, as well as interventions and mediations, for ministers and church leaders (as part of continuing ministerial development) as well as for others within the church, looking at topics such as coping with criticism, handling disagreement, tensions in church life.  As part of our work at developing relationships with those of other faiths we will be offering days on understanding Islam, Sikhism and other faiths, alongside other activities to foster good relations. Our intention is to offer hope to those of you who may be struggling to find a way forward in difficult and challenging times.

freesetIn our explorations of how to make all this happen, we have also begun conversations with Freeset, an organisation which offers hope to women in Kolkata, giving them a way to sustain themselves and their families through the making of bags and goods thereby escaping the horrors of the sex industry. (Click here to learn more about Freeset).

It is early days for the new Blackley Centre – we haven’t got it all neatly sorted yet, and it is definitely a step out into new paths, building on our experience in mediation and interfaith work, and the church‘s experience in hospitality.

Footnote: The new Blackley Centre as a place for peace, reconciliation and hope is being supported in its early days by a Home Mission Grant.


candle one for advent hopeTHERE are times these days when we can look at the world around us and almost feel that we don’t recognise it. Increasing tensions between nations, families at loggerheads, acts of terror on our doorstep, broken relationships everywhere. How do we, as followers of Jesus Christ be bringers of hope to our broken world?

Here at the Blackley Centre we are trying to find ways of doing that – they may be small, and unlikely to impact the global situation, but they may shine a light for some, bringing hope into what may seem hopeless situations.

So when a church is struggling with tension and disagreement, and facing the prospect of some feeling that there is no place for them in that fellowship, it may be that there is hope through mediated conversations, or individual coaching.

Maybe a church is concerned by the increasing number of Muslim people in the area and is unsure of how to approach them, or what to say, wondering what to believe considering all that we have heard on the news. It may be that a day looking at Islam, visiting a mosque and meeting with some Muslims may help in developing the confidence to have such conversations, but also enrich the faith journeys of both the Christians and Muslims involved.

In offering this work we are stepping out, but we are doing it in hope and to bring hope. Perhaps you may consider stepping out to bring hope to your situation…or to step out into an unknown area for yourself?

Prayer points –

praying          For the Church and the Centre in developing a creative and mutually fulfilling partnership at Blackley

•          For trustees with the experience and skills needed to help develop the Centre’s new focus.

•          For the development of the inter faith programme enabling Christians to relate well with neighbours
                                                                                                                                               from other faiths.

•          For the development of the mediation programme with continuing professional development for ministers

•          For the churches of the YBA and their members in relating well to people of other faiths on a day to day basis.

•          For churches experiencing destructive conflict and that they seek help at an early stage.


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