2020 Milestones For Eden

Sarah Small

As 2020 draws to a close, we caught up with Sarah Small, Head of Eden Network UK, for her review of the year.

One of the questions I’ve been asked most this year is ‘How are the Eden teams’ doing?’ In one of the toughest years in living memory, it’s a mixed but hopeful picture. We have teams all around the UK, as well as in South Africa and Canada and all of them have had it tough. As has been said before, the Covid pandemic has not been a great social leveller. In our communities the great divide has exacerbated, and we have seen disproportionately more infection, death, job loss, isolation, violence and despair.

Despite this, we’ve managed to start two new teams this year! In February we launched Eden Farnworth in Bolton, Greater Manchester, and in September we launched Eden Blaen-Y-Maes in Swansea. There’s definitely no lack of need for Eden teams, even though it has proven a logistically trickier environment to operate in this year. Recruitment has also begun to pick up, and we have had many amazing people join us in 2020, with most of our recruits this year coming from the communities in which we are planting teams. They are uniquely placed to get stuck in with mission work without needing to move house or spend time getting to know their neighbours. They have already established relationships and existing support structures which are a huge benefit.

Many of our teams have also reached some notable milestones this year. Partington in Trafford, and Salt River in South Africa, both reached six years; Netherton in Liverpool, and Ragworth and Primrose Hill in Stockton on Tees reached seven; Merseybank in Manchester and Plaistow in London reached eight; and Ladbroke Grove in London, Bow in London and Fir Vale in Sheffield all reached nine!

Two teams also reached the decade mark this year – Buttershaw in Bradford, and Easterside in Middlesbrough. Our Westwood team in Oldham turned 11 and we marked 18 years of great partnership with the team in Hattersley, Greater Manchester! An incredible achievement across the board! We are so thankful for our Eden volunteers and leaders who have chosen to root themselves long-term in their communities.

During the Covid crisis our teams have responded creatively and sacrificially to the practical needs of their communities. Whether that be co-ordinating food, medical supplies and basic necessities, setting up centres, or offering phone calls and befriending. Some have delivered activity packs, online youth sessions and children’s work. Others have found innovative ways to continue with discipleship groups, one to one mentoring and evangelism.

We have also been working hard on plans to launch lots of new Eden teams in 2021 in places such as – Wythenshawe, Blackpool, Redcar, Nottingham, Leeds, London and Newcastle with many others in the pipeline. We’re excited about the number of people exploring Eden and would value your continued prayers for our recruitment.

Please also join us in prayer for our current Eden teams: Blaen-y-maes, Swansea; Bow, London; Buttershaw, Bradford; Churchill Gardens, London; Dagenham, London; East Finchley, London; Easterside, Middlesbrough; Falinge, Rochdale; Farnworth, Bolton; Fir Vale, Sheffield; Gurnell Grove, London; Hattersley, Tameside; Hexham; Hillhead, Glasgow; Islington, Salford; Ladbroke Grove, London; Latchford, Warrington; Merseybank, Manchester; Mill Lane, Stockton on Tees; Netherton, Liverpool; Partington, Manchester; Plaistow, London; Ragworth & Primrose Hill, Stockton on Tees; St Giles, Lincoln; Tremorfa, Cardiff; Walsall, West Midlands; West Bowling, Bradford; Westwood, Oldham; Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton.

Despite all the challenges we have faced, Eden continues to remain uniquely placed and purposed to continue reaching some of the most marginalised communities in our nation, and we are so excited about all that God has in store for us in 2021.