We began as the Urban Ministry and Theology Project in 1999. There was a need at the time for local churches in the area to renew their life and outreach, and to play their part in a rapidly changing community ripe for regeneration. Clergy and layworkers were attracted to the task, local church congregations were intrigued by these new developments, and the church at large became very curious at the work that was being done and the theological reflection on urban ministry that emerged from the work done. It was a refreshing new era.
Some of what was accomplished in the years of UMTP:
Two church buildings and their congregations were transformed. St Silas developed their partnership with Age Concern and Byker Bridge Housing (who provide accommodation for those hard to house), and a re-ordering of the Church space retaining the Victorian sanctuary allowed for all three to share in its use. St Martin’s, after much consultation in the community developed their partnerships with Sure Start and Barnardos and provided a new building with worship space integrated with much needed facilities for children and families. UMTP became completely engaged with community projects and regeneration and helped to found needed services. The Healthworks Partnership was formed, and UMTP was key in developing the East End Asylum Seeker Group. Theological reflection became a formal part of UMTP as clergy participated in training for clergy and chaplains, and MA students did placements, helping them engage with urban theology.
In September 2010 the project began a new phase as MINE: Mission Initiative Newcastle East. Much work is still to be done, especially in the parishes of St Michael’s and St Anthony’s. We hope to continue the good work begun by UMTP, and explore new areas of mission.