Bethel is the final project to be set up in completion of a three-part prophetic regeneration initiative begun by Birmingham Churches in 1988. The first initiative split into two separate projects; a women’s refuge, called Gilgal, set up in 1994, which was closely followed by a family support centre, Stepping Stones set up in 1995. Both work with families in need and have been flourishing ever since.
The second phase of the regeneration, Jericho, also began in the 1990s and works to help the long-term unemployed to return to work, through advice and guidance and a community business. Jericho Community Business began in 1999 and provides paid work experience, with training and mentoring support. From 2003-6, it had a particular focus on helping people into the construction industry through a project named Renaissance-21. This work continues under the umbrella of the Jericho Foundation. All these projects, initially piloted by churches, later received statutory funding.
During the process of setting up and developing these regeneration initiatives, a common factor has been the involvement of Dr Christine Parkinson, who has written a book, ‘The Desert will Rejoice’ in which the vision and process of development for each project is described.
The vision for the third part of the prophecy, Bethel, began in 2001 but formal meetings to establish the project did not begin until 2004. Bethel Health & Healing Network was established as a company limited by guarantee in May 2006 and as a registered charity in September 2006. About this time, a partner organisation, the Azadi Trust, kindly made their community house – Azadi House – available to Bethel, to use as a base in Sparkbrook. Since that time, a number of projects have been run under the Bethel umbrella, mainly in Sparkbrook but also in Small Heath and other inner city areas of Birmingham. The first of these was the piloting of a Parish Nursing community initiative in Sparkbrook, in collaboration with Christ Church and PNM (UK) Ltd, during 2006-2011; this work continues in Sparkhill but now under the umbrella of the Narthex Project at St. John’s Church. Bethel also began a Counselling Project in 2007 and this continues, though consistent funding has been difficult to access for this important service Counselling.
Out of the Parish Nursing initiative, a new project – the Doula Project – began in pilot form in 2008; this received 3-year funding from Comic Relief in September 2010 and from the William Cadbury Trust in 2011 and 2013 – see full details on the Doula Project page on this website. We are currently seeking funding sponsors to continue this ground-breaking work.
In 2012, Bethel received a one-year grant from the People’s Health Trust to establish a Healthy Living Project in Small Heath, in conjunction with Small Heath Baptist Church – see separate page on this website, giving full details of this work.
Bethel now has an office base at Jericho Foundaion, 196-198 Edward Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham, B12 9LX.