Birmingham City Mission’s founder dies, but work continues

Birmingham City Mission is an ecumenical Christian ministry, committed to helping the needy and marginalised of the city and to sharing the Christian message. The Mission runs many projects throughout Birmingham where there is need, offering friendship and support to the homeless, elderly, young, poor and marginalised. Though an unashamedly Christian mission, BCM offers its services unconditionally to all.

BCM was founded in 1966 by Edwin Orton and a group of volunteers. Its early outreach consisted of city-centre open-air meetings and a ‘soup kitchen’ for the homeless and those in need. As staff numbers increased, house-to-house visitation took place in many districts. The homeless work grew significantly from the 1980s onwards, with three residential projects at one point. The 1980s also saw the start of ElderLink (lunch clubs and a home visiting service) and the Youth Department (events, schools and camps). More recently, the Children’s Team was formed to deliver assemblies, lessons and clubs in Birmingham’s primary schools.

Following the withdrawal of funding for its hostels, BCM’s charity work with the homeless and needy has concentrated on its Care Centre and Resource Centre. These had to close temporarily during the recent lockdown, but have now (along with BCM’s Charity Shop and Bookshop) have reopened. The Care Centre is currently serving food and drink through its shutter-doors between 12 noon and 4.00pm, Monday to Thursday inclusive.

BCM founder Edwin Horton led the Mission for 30 years until his retirement in 1997. He held the position of BCM President from 1997 to 2020, until recent years regularly promoting the Mission’s work at local churches. Edwin passed away on Saturday 4 July. He is remembered as a man of boundless energy and big vision. In addition to his work in BCM, City Missions in cities such as Coventry, Swansea and Worcester owe their beginnings to him. With others, Edwin established the ‘British Association of City Missions,’ which has gone from strength to strength. It is now known as ‘City Mission Movement UK.’

Read more about Birmingham City Mission HERE.

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