Interested in joining one of our teams? Or maybe leading a new one? Find out more by clicking the link below.
Teams currently in London
Ocean Estate, Stepney
The Ocean Estate team is led by Salvation Army officers Nick & Kerry Coke. Together with Pete & Ruthy Burgess they have been in Stepney since 1999 pioneering the ministry of Hope Asha. You can read more about some of the initiatives they have been involved in here. www.hopeasha.org.uk
The Harold Hill team began when Rich & Alison Shorter moved into the estate in August 2009. They were joined the following month by Steve & Lauren Tinning. Rich is a baptist minister and Ali is a teacher by profession but is being kept busy with their three young children! Steve is a student baptist minister placed with Urban Expression while he studies at Spurgeon’s College and Lauren is a physiotherapist. Watch the video interview
Opportunities in London
The Harold Hill team are still looking for additional team members to join this exciting venture in this outer-city estate.
Hope Asha could soon be graduating from Urban Expression but for those living in Tower Hamlets there is a great opportunity to still be involved with this dynamic, community-based, multi-cultural expression of church with a reputation of serving the community and seeking peace and justice. For more info visit www.hopeasha.org.uk
More about Urban Expression in London
Urban Expression began in London in 1997. The Harold Hill team is our eighth team since then. Urban Expression continues to look for team leaders to initiate and help form further teams in some of the least churched and most marginalised communities of our Capital.
Interested in joining one of our London teams? Or maybe leading a new one?
For further details, contact us at:
We do not currently have any teams in Glasgow. Between 2007 and 2011 there was a team of eight in Possilpark, who planted Clay Community Church (www.claychurch.org.uk), a member of the Scottish Network of Churches.
Opportunities in Glasgow
We are looking for team leaders and team members to form new teams in under-churched locations in the most deprived areas of Glasgow. For more information contact the steering group via our contact form. The steering group is actively seeking to build relationships with Christian groups and churches interested in partnering with us in urban mission.
"A New Glasgow" - a poem, written by Doug Gay, which captures something of the essence of the vision for a renewed city.
Teams currently in Birmingham
It’s very hard to explain church planting on a housing estate in north east Brum!...its a combination of alot of things – alot of food, alot of laughs, a lot of conversations, alot of hanging around, alot of prayer, alot of listening to our community...
We currently have a core group of about 10 – 18 on a Tues evening who come together around our meal table for discussion, food, debate, learning and listening together. We are very informal with themes, discussions and dilemmas people bring to us. Loss, living ethically, prayer, creation, the Bible, community development have all been recent Tues evening conversations. Nothing is ever ‘led’ as such, we are all equal with no ‘expert’ amongst us, it is very much about learning together.
People who come are from a range of backgrounds all living in Shard End , asking questions about God and trying to work out how to live for others. Some of the stuff we get up to:
- Community meetings – attend, listen, make contacts, make ourselves useful generally
- Litter pick – cleaning up for no reason other than to make it look nice for us all!
- Prayer walk – we have 12 ‘stations’ of Shard End that we pray for, key places/venues
- Fireworks night (its massive - about 50 local families now!)
- Christmas dinners for about 30-40 people
- Allotment – we have a shared plot and get involved in the open days
- Football club – spending time with local parents while the boys play hours and hours of football, often leads to long God chats
- Annual family holiday – about 20 of us go for a week away
- Advocacy/ form filling in for local people
- Links to local schools – counselling support
- Pinkterton Cycles – refurbishing old bikes and giving/selling them for a small amount
- Easter celebrations
- Hours and hours of listening/chatting spending time with neighbours in non threatening ways
- Looking to develop messy church for families with autistic children
We have a core team of 6 of us who have moved into Shard End ,we have joined things that have been developed, sought to join in what God and neighbours have already begun.
There’s far too much to try and flesh out in a piece of paper – come and visit if you want to see what it’s really like!
For further details, contact Jo Fitzsimmons at
Welsh House Farm Estate
More details to follow about this South West Birmingham Team.
Teams currently in Bristol
In response to the missional challenge Urban Expression agreed that we should start working in Bristol and in autumn 2009 we started working on setting up two steering groups in the city – one to focus on the multicultural East of the city and the other to focus on the mainly white estates in the south. These steering groups will be getting to grips with the challenge throughout 2010 with a view to starting teams in the autumn.
More about Urban Expression in Bristol
Bristol is, like many cities, a divided city; the River Avon divides it North / South and the M32 motorway splits off the East section of the city – the wealth being concentrated mainly in the North. Also typical is the large area of deprivation (lowest 10% on the national multiple deprivation indicator scale). The contrast between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ is particularly marked in Bristol because it is one of Britain’s wealthiest cities, having the highest average personal income outside of London. Bristol’s urban deprivation typically exists in two kinds of areas: multicultural inner city areas and majority white estates built as slum clearances in the 30’s and 50’s. In both these the denominational churches have suffered serious and long term decline; the very existence of the denominational churches in white estates is now in question.
Dynamic Partnerships in Bristol
The mission challenge in Bristol is very significant. However it seems that the Spirit is moving and in some senses we are running to keep up. Creative working relationships exist already between denominations, especially Anglican and Baptist with the exiting involvement of both the Baptist and Anglican colleges in the city: both of them are very involved in mission in Bristol and developing new ways of training people to be involved incarnational mission and church planting in some of the most challenging areas. The Baptist college has formed a partnership with UE locally so that we can bring together the strengths of the college with the church planting energy and expertise of UE.
Teams currently in Stoke-on-Trent
Stoke on Trent is a city of about 250,000, world famous for centuries as a centre for the production of beautiful pottery; Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, Spode, Portmerion and Moorcroft are all Stoke on Trent firms. Much of that industry has now died or gone abroad and Stoke is now in the bottom 15 of the ‘UK cities rich list’. On a positive note Stoke was rated the friendliest city in the UK in a poll by Sheffield University.
There are presently two UE teams and one UE Mission Parner living and serving in Stoke on Trent, one in the south of the city and one in the north.
UE Cobridge (Stoke)
Cobridge used to be quite a posh area (the Victorian novelist Arnold Bennett used to live just over the road from us) but it is now one of the poorest areas of the city. There is about a 50% minority ethnic population, the majority of whom are Pakistani Muslims.
The Cobridge UE team started in September 2009 when Howard and Iona Jones moved up from Birmingham. Howard is a Baptist minister and Iona is an equality and diversity consultant. In 2011 Richard & Cat Wakefield, both teachers, joined the team and our latest team member is Carmel Murphy, a newly accredited Baptist minister, who joined us in September 2012.
We have developed a lot of relationships across the breadth of the local community and have got very involved in the local community centre. We organise occasional community-wide projects which have included:
‘In the park’ events – encouraging local people to come out and meet each other with informal, fun activities in the local park
Parties at the local community centre (Valentine’s day, Queen’s Jubilee)
Cobridge Community Games – sporting activities on the last day of the Olympics
Christmas in Cobridge – carols, crafts and a Christmas reflection around our lock up garage
We have also started up and continue to run several activities for children and young people in association with ROC (Redeeming Our Communities):
ROC Café (drop in for young people aged 11-16)
ROC Sports (sports activities for young people)
ROC Garden (children’s gardening project, redeveloping beds outside the community centre)
Cobridge Kiddies (toddler group at the local Anglican church)
More recently a small Sunday gathering has developed. We usually meet round a Sunday lunch at Howard and Iona’s and then share thoughts and life experiences, often around a Bible story. It includes members of the local community, at very varied places on their faith journeys, but it is a safe and inclusive place and an exciting new development for UEC.
We have tried to sum up our mission like this. Our aims are:
To live as engaged and positive citizens in Cobridge, building relationships with our neighbours and our neighbourhood that are life enhancing, and encouraging. In this way we aim to be a blessing to our local area by our presence here
To work in partnership with other organisations (whether faith based or not) that are working in this area, especially in the areas of health and social cohesion. Our aim is to bring out and build on what is good in Cobridge and promote what is good for Cobridge.
To organise projects and events that build up ‘social capital’ in Cobridge. Our aim is to try and make it a better, happier, cleaner, healthier, safer place to live.
To share our Christian faith in imaginative, respectful and non-coercive ways through our lifestyle, our actions and, where appropriate, our words.
Our longer term aim is to build a Christian community that is:
- centred upon the person and teaching of Jesus
- life affirming, honest and hospitable
- open and welcoming to anyone, but especially to those who may not feel able to engage with the traditional church
We love Cobridge and love living here, and are excited at what God has done, is doing and will do among us and through us.
UE Stoke Town
Team leaders Liz & Steve Perry live locally with their children in Stoke. Their hope is to offer something alternative to ‘traditional church’.
Liz is involved in the local community association and other community initiatives including the London Road Festival and the local Fair Trade movement. Steve’s time is spent developing a family-friendly internet radio station called Access Radio involving many volunteers from the local community.
Community activities are often located around the ‘Urban Village Green’ – with community centre, playing field, community garden, chapel and the pub nearby. Together with Marg Hardcastle, UE Mission Partner, good things are also happening with other churches and Christians locally.
UE Mission Partner Stoke, Stoke-on-Trent
Marg returned to live and work in the town of Stoke early in 2007, part of the city of Stoke-on-Trent, after training for Baptist ministry. She had previously worked in Stoke-on-Trent for several years having moved there for her first job in the 80’s. Marg returned because of a strong ‘sense of call’ to the city and this has seen her spend the majority of her time engaged in a variety of projects and work outside the church context, in the community, and supporting other charitable ventures. Being half-time minister her focus is on mission and a desire to blur the lines between community and church, and the small and attractive building owned by Stoke Baptists is well known as a local community facility. 2014 will see a new and exciting development as the church links up with the local Methodists who are in the process of renovating a large local pub as a community café and hub.
Marg also chairs the local community association, which is in the process of taking on a small community centre nearby, next to the community park, which the group has developed and maintains. The UE focus in Stoke is very much around transformation through creativity: arts, music and community events which are locally based. Marg works closely with Liz and Steve of the Stoke UE team and shares with them a heart to see Stoke and its town centre renewed as an attractive and thriving place.
New ways of doing and being church have been explored and a new and popular ‘church’ has emerged in the past few years in the local extra care complex, called ‘Faith in the Village’, which Marg co-ordinates, bringing together people from four different denominations in the area to lead fortnightly gatherings for people mostly aged over 60; and the Baptist Centre have introduced café-style services each month which are proving popular with non-church-goers. The potential for missional engagement in Stoke-on-Trent is great and there are exciting opportunities ahead, and if anyone else feels called to this place they’d be very welcome!
Note on Stoke-on-Trent
In a recent government survey ‘Personal Well-being across the UK 2012-13’, ONS October 2013,
“Stoke-on-Trent had among the lowest average ratings for life satisfaction, worthwhile and happiness.” When the statistics were published The Sun newspaper ran an article titled ‘Stoke-on-Discontent’, which made local people quite angry. Behind the statistics, of which there are plenty of gloomy ones for Stoke, lies a history of people and place who have not been enabled or allowed to flourish, but kept ‘in their place’, as it has been described locally. However, Stoke is also renowned for being one of the friendliest places in the country, which those who move in to the city from other places, agree with. It still has a very strong sense of community and so is a great place to live if you enjoy being part of a community, has wonderful countryside around it and a thriving, but not yet nationally celebrated, arts, theatre and live music scene.
The North West
In recent years a number of Urban Expression teams have sprung up in the North West of England. Each team & mission partner, is individual and distinct, reflecting their local context. Yet all seek to live locally as Jesus followers around Urban Expression values and commitments.
Angie and Dave Tunstall live three minutes from Eccles Town Centre. Their vision is to see others join them living, working, serving and joining with others already serving the wider Eccles community.
They offer hospitality in their home including hosting BVBC (bacon, veggie butty, community): a regular time of gathering with others including family, friends and neighbours around food, friendship, fun and for some faith. They also often meet with other Jesus follower's for a Sabbath meal.
Part of the Eccles Town Team & Incredible Edibles (see www.incredibleediblessalford.org.uk) Angie is having fun with other local residents growing fruit & vegetables across the city and gathering others at the monthly Eccles Farmer's Market in Eccles Town Centre to inspire others to grow and give away edibles.
UE Ellesmere Port
We have now been in Ellesmere Port for a year and are beginning to build a small team and community. Our team consists of Dirk & Rose Uitterdijk, Gill Reeve & Hazel Gilbert. We also have others, who are not yet UE members, but who we consider as part of the team here.
The heart of our team is monthly 'Food on a Friday' where we gather with one another and with friends to simply share a meal and enjoy each other's company. We also meet once a month for breakfast to pray and support one another. We are working our way through a book on community to see how and what we can develop here in 'the Port'. We are working towards a 'vocation statement'!
After almost 150 years as a Baptist church—and having spent a year reflecting on Urban Expression’s values—Openshaw Baptist Tabernacle decided to set up a UE team to work alongside the church in its re-invention of Christian Presence in the city.
The team is led by Tim Presswood and Clare McBeath and works in partnership with a number of other agencies and groups to deliver a variety of projects. Most notable of these are:
Living Well -a weekly healthy-living drop-in run in partnership with the local SureStart centre, offering fruit juices, smoothies and healthy eating advice, alongside complementary therapies and a collection for the local credit union.
Stories and Songs -a monthly multicultural session, again in the SureStart centre, telling faith stories from around the world using storytelling techniques designed to open up the stories, particularly to pre-school children to help them to understand and celebrate their faith and culture.
UE Openshaw are also developing plans for a major new “eco-arts-spirituality and healing” centre which may or may not be a church!
UE Victoria Park
You’ve heard it said that church is the people – not the building. We mean it. Our mission is ‘to enable local people who won’t set foot in a church building to be church in a way that’s relevant and authentic to them.’ How do we do that? By going out to where they are: the workplace (we all have regular jobs), pubs, restaurants, the streets, prison cells, the courts, and the crematoria – you’ll find us wherever you find people. The fastest growing area of ministry for us right now is with people addicted to drugs and alcohol, with even Greater Manchester Police helping us to spread the Gospel to them! The only thing keeping us from reaching more people is not having enough people on the Team. If you want the thrill of being part of cutting edge urban mission and you’re ready to ‘count the cost’, contact Gary on 07780 927743 or Jayne on 07742 567113.
Further Opportunities in the North West
There are many opportunities with Urban Expression in the North West! If you are interested in joining us why not get in touch, and come along to meet us?
For further details, contact us at:
In 2007 Urban Expression Netherlands was formed as a sister organisation working in various locations in The Netherlands. To find out more about their teams and opportunities that are available please visit www.urbanexpression.nl
In 2009 Urban Expression North America was formed as a sister organisation with plans to work in various locations in the USA and Canada and to initiate a North American version of Crucible called Watershed.
In 2011 plans are developing for Urban Expression to begin in Sweden.