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Birmingham 2017

Meeting Christ in the discarded

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The title ’Hidden Treasure’ is taken from the Gospel Parable (Matthew 13:44). The gathering will be a chance to explore and celebrate some of the hidden treasures of our faith, those found in scripture and prayer, and those found in the many concrete acts of solidarity being taken by Christians on behalf of those around them, often the most disadvantaged.

One such Hidden Treasure is a community project in the Winson Green area of Birmingham. Sam Ewell, a community pastor, organiser and theologian, has been reflecting on the calling of Christians to live in the midst of the discarded, and exploring how to live it out. He comments, “We live in a culture which discards all sort of things very easily. Our society is continually throwing things away. We throw away food, food waste, packaging, single-use items. But worst of all we throw away people, HMP Birmingham in Winson Green is a very visible symbol of this wider culture of discarding people.”

“But”, asks Sam, “what if we turned things round the other way? God doesn’t create things that are useless, God doesn’t throw anything or anyone away. So what if we start with the things, and the people, who have been thrown away? And begin to manifest God’s kingdom from there.”

Sam is involved in prison ministry inside HMP Birmingham, and with work to reintegrate former prisoners after their release. Alongside this work he has been developing a community gardening project with the intention of both producing food and of beautifying the local area. The project uses discarded food waste and organic materials to create compost, and other materials are also used, including fallen branches after Storm Doris which have been used to make wood-chip for pathways.

During the Hidden Treasure weekend Sam and others will be leading an afternoon session for the 16-18 year-old one day programme. The next day there will be a workshop around this same theme for the full-weekend participants. They are looking forward to sharing their story, and to hearing about what others are doing.

Last updated: 27 March 2017