Free Church Commission, Project Update #2, 15th January 2019

The project has now been running for three months, and we have completed our first case study – with more on the way!

  • 49 participants consulted across 38 interviews, and 5 observations completed, with a further 40 interviews anticipated for completion by early February

  • Pilot case study (Bolton) completed and introductory blog published on the Theos website here.

  • MPs for several case study areas interviewed at Westminster

  • Croydon and a supplementary sample agreed as the 12th and 20th case studies

  • Case studies currently underway in Newham, Haringey, and Croydon, with imminent case studies upcoming (late January/early February) in Middlesbrough and Thanet

  • Dates for all 20 case studies and the mid-project review scheduled

  • A range of experts consulted in the social cohesion field, and literature review ongoing

    Since the last commission meeting, the research team has completed the pilot case study in Bolton, begun interviews for our London case studies in the boroughs of Haringey, Newham and Croydon, continued to interview MPs for our chosen areas in Westminster, and finalised a timeline for all our case studies and dissemination schedule through 2019-2020. We have now completed 38 interviews (involving 49 participants) and 5 observations, with a further 40 interviews scheduled for completion by the start of February.

    The Bolton pilot yielded fascinating interviews and insight into emerging themes, such as the importance of physical place and space to community cohesion, the relationship with local councils, and the centrality of strong personal relationships to successful community cohesion projects. We spoke with churches across the denominational spectrum, representatives from other faith communities, journalists, council officials, executives/staff of local charities, and local people with no professional link to social cohesion work. We were given tours of religious buildings and social action projects, visited social clubs, and attended community lunches and cafes. We are now in the process of transcribing these interviews and observations, and implementing our findings from the pilot into subsequent case study planning. We particularly noted the importance of the quality of relationship churches enjoy with the local council, both in terms of practical considerations like funding, and also in the recognition of churches as community stakeholders.


Dear Friends,



We very much hope that you will join us at 6pm at 27 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9HH on Monday 14th October when we are delighted that the Rev. Dr Jennifer Smith, Minister of Wesley’s Chapel, will speak on the intriguing title of “Wife Beating, Worship and Public Conscience – C17th Providence Plantations and Today”

The “Deputies” were established as elected lay people, working with a body of Ministers, in 1732 to fight for the removal of restrictions which excluded the churches and people we now call in the “Free Church” tradition from many areas of public life. London based, they argued on behalf of churches across the country.

We maintain this somewhat quaint sounding body as an annual society to honour their memory and successful work. Free speech should never be taken for granted, enabling us to sustain our life, worship and witness. The body also keeps alive our historic right of direct approach to the Monarch.

Today, the Free Churches Group carries out the Deputies’ functions relating to government, as we will hear during our very brief formal proceedings.

This is an open invitation to your members and Minister. It would be most helpful to know in advance of the numbers attending. Please return the attached form by post or email. Respecting our historical structure, it would be appropriate to nominate two “Deputies”, but all are welcome. Please display the poster. Our income is limited, and a contribution would be very welcome to help cover our meeting costs.

We know that Jennifer will have a great deal of interest to say and we hope very much that you will come.

For more information and RSVP, please contact Sabina Williams at sabina.williams@freechurches.org.uk / 02036518334.

Paul Rochester and Keith Salway

General Secretary and Treasurer

Free Church Choirs - concert on 12th October!

The Free Church Choirs will be performing at Guildford Cathedral on 12th October.

This is part of a biennial festival of church music with an interesting and varied programme of pieces.

The theme for the concert this year is Stewards of Creation. You can find out more here.

Please join with us as we pray for the preparations and rehearsals of all of singers from our Free Churches.

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.

Worship the Lord with gladness;

come into his presence with singing.”

Psalm 100:1-2

(photo courtesy of David Beale at Unsplash)

Praying for our prisons...

A WEEK OF PRAYER for prisons coming up this autumn - join in from 13th – 19th October 2019

Each year, for a week in October, churches and groups are especially encouraged to pray for prisons. We want to encourage you to join this wave of prayer.

Did you know… There are over 82,00 women and men in prison in England and Wales.

Did you know… There are over 93,000 children in England and Wales who have a parent in prison.

Read that again…

93,000 children.

That is more than the capacity of Wembley stadium.

As Christians, we know and feel the power of prayer. We are assured that God works in the world through His almighty grace & mercy, and hears our prayers.

The theme for Prisons Week this year is based on Psalm 111:9: What does freedom mean to you?

You can find out more and register your interest in praying during Prisons Week here:

This coming Sunday, why not chat to those in your church fellowship about this and see how you can get ready to support this wave of prayer and action in autumn.

The Free Churches Group are proud to be among the many sponsors and supporters of Prisons Week.

(Image courtesy of Mohamed Nohassi at Unsplash)

Mental health matters - a dynamic and informative conference coming up in October

We all know that mental health matters - it matters for ourselves, our churches, our families and across our wider community!

Are you a Christian leader working in a role which supports others?

The Free Churches Group are hosting a conference to support Christian leaders, chaplains, student workers and anyone interested in looking after their own mental health and that of others. This will be held at Bloomsbury Baptist Church, London on Wednesday 23rd October.

Lots of varied conference content and the opportunity to explore a wide range of topics… Theological input, panel discussions and a choice of workshops including exploring mental health first aid, supporting those in study, and worship and dementia.

Please also feel free to share this link with people in your network.

The conference costs are £25 per person and you can find out more information and book your place here.

Come along and be inspired… learn together…

Develop skills and share good practice in this important area of ministry

For information contact sarah.lane.cawte@freechurches.org.uk


Tickets provided through Eventbrite