Who We Are
A Brief Introduction
Kings Norton is a large Church of England parish on the southern edge of Birmingham, England. It sits astride the border between Birmingham and rural Worcestershire (map).
For most of its long history, Kings Norton was an agricultural village or small market town in north Worcestershire with strong links to the town of Bromsgrove, 9 miles to the south-west. With the 19th century came the Industrial Revolution and the rapid growth of neighbouring Birmingham. In 1796, the Birmingham and Worcester Canal was built through Kings Norton, linking Birmingham to the River Severn. The railway arrived in 1849. By 1911, Kings Norton had been formally absorbed into the city, boundary lines had been redrawn and the village had become a suburb, though with its mediaeval centre and its village identity still largely intact.
20th Century Expansion
The character of Kings Norton was dramatically altered between the 1950s and the 1970s. After the Second World War, Birmingham City Council embarked on a programme of slum clearance. It bought up large tracts of rural land within the parish on which to construct social housing. Today, most of the 28,300 inhabitants live in the parish's extensive council estates at Druids Heath, Chaddesley-Longfellow, Pool Farm, Primrose and Hawkesley.
However, the area around Kings Norton Green, now a designated conservation area, still forms a significant local focus for the whole parish. It has Birmingham’s largest collection of medieval buildings, including the parish church, our open churchyard and the Old Grammar School and Tudor Merchant’s House, re-opened in June 2008 as Saint Nicolas Place after winning BBC Restoration 2004. These are all church-owned and in heavy and growing church, heritage, community and education use.
St Nicolas' Church
At the heart of the community for the last 900 years, St Nicolas' is the ancient parish church in the fullest sense. It is in daily use and highly visible, widely known and woven into the stories of many people. Prayer and worship are at the heart, but, in our local context and story, St Nicolas' is much more than a theatre for liturgy or a place for praying, vital though these are.
The building itself, with its many and growing uses, is a living sign of Christ’s shelter, hope and welcome at the heart of our growth in mission across the parish and through our District Churches of Hawkesley and Immanuel.
The Team Ministry
The Team Ministry was formed in 1974, in response to the massive post-war outer estate developments, with a Team Rector responsible for St Nicolas' and Team Vicars licensed to newly created estate congregations. This has however become less helpful. St Nicolas' has grown as the focus of whole-parish ministry, requiring us all to work closely in partnership. Hawkesley and Immanuel continue in vital local ministry but do not require a full time priest.
In 1999, the Team was reduced to three full-time, paid clergy. We have since developed a new Team with collegial responsibility for the whole parish.
Worship in the Parish
We gather at least five times on a normal Sunday in three different locations and increasingly frequently during the week. Every gathering has a strong emphasis on inclusion and hospitality in worship as the ground for mission with much sharing of food, prayers, laughter, tears and a wide variety of music.
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