A brief time of history

Derek Purnell and Paul Keeble met up some years back when Paul was invited to become a member of the Executive of E.C.M.A. (= The Evangelical Council Manchester Area) - now known as "Network". Derek was already on the Exec. and had recently finished working full-time for E.C.M.A. and the Evangelical Alliance to begin a course of study at the Nazarene Theological College looking at Christian ministry in the urban context. Both were already involved in inner-city communities and churches, and discovered they had very similar ideas about the need to support Christian ministry in such areas, and the need to make the wider church aware of the urban situation.

After Derek finished his course he looked for an organisation to work with to implement these ideas, but found none that fitted; Paul meantime was feeling it was time to move on from working with YfC as most of what he was doing was no longer directly to do with their main area of ministry. So, in 1996 after seeking advice from several respected Christian leaders, whose response was uniformly positive, they formed 'Urban Presence'.

They soon discovered that there was as much work for them as they could cope with... and more. So the organisation of 'Urban Presence' itself took a back seat for the first few years. It is now a U.K. registered trust (no. 1069404) with a group of Trustees drawn from local churches and is also a member organisation of Network and of the Evangelical Alliance. In January 1999 Urban Presence was officially 'launched' in Manchester during a Prayer Network meeting, with EA President Sir Fred Catherwood leading some 500 Christians in prayer for Derek, Paul and their trustees.

Over the years, we have built up many contacts, relationships and friendships. These nclude a number of people in urban ministry that we have sought to encourage, support or mentor. In 2010 the trustess felt it would be appropriate to offer a closer working relationship and degree of accountability to a few of these people as Urban Presence Associates.

In 2013 we were part of the planning group for the Jesus in the City urban mission congress in Manchester, Paul completed an MPhil in urban theology and Derek published "Speaking the Unspeakable: Who cares about the Working Classes" (read an excerpt here).

Paul's book 'Mission With', developed from his MPhil thesis, was published in 2017. It was launched at the UP21st event in May 2017.