I was born and bred in the East End of London and worked for fifty years within dense urban communities, both inner city and sprawling estate, within the UK. I began my urban studies in New York in 1968 under Professor George (Bill) Webber, of East Harlem Protestant Parish, and Professor Niall Harper of New York Theological Seminary.I worked with the Puerto Rican gangs of East Harlem before returning to the UK whereI lived and worked in Birmingham’s Handsworth, Gravelly Hill, and Aston and in London’s Poplar (Canary Wharf and Isle of Dogs).
I became the first chair of the Church of England’s Urban Strategy Consultative Group and a member of the Urban Bishop’s Panel, and was a co-founder of the international Anglican Urban Network.
More recentlyI was living and working in the Thames Gateway regeneration area and whilst there co-edited a book on Regeneration issues and how the Church should respond to them. (Building Utopia? SPCK) This website therefore contains material on many aspects of Urban Life and Ministry.
Laurie's book, "Urban Mission and the Kingdom of God", SPCK, proved to be a Church Times “Book of the Year”. The reviewer acclaimed it as, “the best book on urban ministry I’ve ever read.” It looks at the urban scene in the context of globalisation and stresses the importance of seeing the interrelation of rich and poor areas, and from that he draws out a liberative theology, giving plenty of examples of ways forward for the Church’s ministry and mission. It’s informative, practical and theological.
Housing Estate Life and Ministry
Bishop Laurie co-founded the National Estate Churches Network and has been its chair for twenty years. He stepped down in 2016. He was its key worker for five years, during which he journeyed all around the UK in order to investigate the present state of affairs on our Social Housing Estates. The outcome was an in-depth description and theology of this focus of poverty in Britain. Blessed are the Poor? is indeed the only book specifically focussed on Housing Estate theology, but more than that, it offers an answer to why Jesus called the poor ‘blessed’. It ends with a challenge and a half.