The Eden Network is looking to establish a presence in Norris Green with Christians working to reach and support the young people of this part of North Liverpool. The national network recently established Eden Merseyside with the first project starting in Netherton.
They are now focussing their attention on this partnership with our diocese and Christ Church, Norris Green. So we spoke to Rev Helen Edwards and Eden’s regional director Dave Nuttall about the project.
So Helen why Eden? Christ Church has a good reputation for its ministry in Norris Green surely you don’t need outsiders
Helen Edwards: We have worked hard to build a visible worshipping community here in Norris Green, one which is doing lots of good work. But while we have a heart to reach the young people of the community we just don’t have the people or the skills to do it. That’s where, following prayer, we believe Eden Merseyside come in. They have had some success locally with a youth bus but clearly have the heart for more. It seems that this is a logical step forward in outreach to our community.
Dave Nuttall: We definitely don’t want to be seen as outsiders coming into an area. That won’t work. We need to be a part of the community and having an invitation to be part of that community is an important first step. It will not work if we simply and ourselves on a place. So we were delighted that Helen and Christ Church invited us in.
So what is Eden and what will you bring?
DN: Eden Merseyside is part of the national Eden Network that grew out of a project in Manchester. Basically it involves individuals moving to a community to become part of an Eden Team living their lives among that community. We build a support network around a full time team leader (employed by a church) assisted by volunteers. The volunteers continue in their day jobs but as a team they discern what God is asking them to do in the local community. It is a powerful calling to bring people into some of the country’s poorer communities standing alongside them demonstrating God’s love. It’s a model that works around the country and one which is very much there to support what is already happening in Christ’s name.
HE: We’d heard about Eden and knew they had a good track record in other parts of the country. We were clear that Eden offered something we couldn’t provide. While we wanted to reach the youth of our community we just don’t have the right people to do it. We’re successful in other areas – working with children and families for example – but if we tried to do this by ourselves then it just wouldn’t work. The young people of Norris Green are crying out for positive role models to shine that light of love and show them a different direction. Our prayer is the Eden team will be able to support us, as we support them, in doing that.
What do you want from the rest of our diocese?
HE: We’re a small church in a challenging urban community. We can’t do it alone. But we believe we can work with God and the whole diocese to bring about change. What we need most is for people to catch the vision, to pray for this and to support us financially. We need money to pay for the full time worker, we need prayer that God will call people to live and work among us and with us on this exciting project.
DN: We are very excited about this but our key priorities are prayer and finance. We have a keen network of supporters but we need more. You can sign up to our newsletter to find out more and receive prayer pointers or you can join our ever expanding network of supporters. We have the skills – we need your support to get this up and running. And if you want to know more then you can come to “You gotta laugh – Exploring Eden” Event in January.
Finally, when will we see an Eden Community in Norris Green?
DN: That’s difficult to say. We need the right people to hear God’s call to serve in this way. That will happen in God’s time. There is also the matter of finding a place to live. Our hope though is unlike other projects Eden Merseyside is recruiting from the region, so people should be able to commute to their existing work. Once we have a team ready we can train them and support them quite quickly.
HE: It couldn’t come quickly enough for us. Norris Green is a challenging community but it is a rewarding place to minister. The team will be supported, loved and nourished by our church and those in the area and we look forward to getting started.