Ian Whitley, Clemy Gilmore and Libby Hawkness-Smith are just back from the ReSource weekend, Crossing cultures Birmingham 30 January – 1 February 2015, and share their thoughts on that weekend with us.
HH: How did you find the ReSource weekend?
Clemy: I found the weekend to be very creative and informative, with good speakers and opportunities for good dialogue.
Ian: I thought the weekend was excellent. It gave a great insight into how different cultures, especially through migration into this country have affected the faith/spiritually map of this country.
Libby: I found the recent Resource weekend informative, enlightening, challenging and varied.
What moved, inspired or challenged you on the ReSource weekend?
Clemy: I found the visit to the mosque quite challenging but helpful in growing my understanding of the Muslim point of view. I was most moved by the “Sanctuary” at Christ Church in Sparkbrook. The sacred space created there by Richard is powerfully spiritual. As a woman myself, I was most inspired by Kate Pearson’s talk on being a woman and a pioneer.
Ian: The time spent at Sparkbrook on Saturday was the highlight for me. Hearing how Richard as priest-in-charge is leading a missional community that is working through how it meets the needs, both spiritually and physically, of their community was really inspiring. Much of what they are doing isn’t new – reflective service, Eucharist, a drop-in/lunch, a women’s day for example – but it was the intent behind that was central to who they are and what I will take away. The fact that their intention in all they do is to work for the “common good” really struck me. They are in the community not to convert but to serve. They do this without compromising their faith or hiding the fact they are Christians or that they would love those they interact with to come to a faith in Christ. However, they leave this up to God and get on with what they believe God has called them to.
Libby: I particularly engaged with the prayer space at Christ Church, blending an eastern way of prayer with a very clear focus on Christ, whilst also appealing to many different senses, with the aromatic incense, smooth stones and glass beads to touch, fabrics to trace, candles to be mesmerised by and Eastern music permeating the air. I was challenged by what my crossing points and boundaries are, in spirituality and prayer, in the way of being able to engage in prayer with Jehovah in the mosque.
What will you take away from the weekend?
Clemy: I will take away a better understanding of what is possible when it comes to crossing cultures and mission. I will be able to better inform the churches I serve of the possibilities and opportunities around us and in the communities we find ourselves in.
Ian: The context at Sparkbrook is completely different to mine yet the idea of focusing on the common good translates across cultures and contexts.
Libby: I have already started dialoguing with colleagues of other faiths about the similarities in each other’s spirituality, and would like to lead another interactive, sensing prayer session.
Clemy, Ian and Libby, thank you for your answers. Please could you tell me a bit more about yourselves and your mission in life?
Clemy: I work for the Congregational Federation (www.congregational.org.uk) South East Area, as a church support worker/mission enabler. The CF is a network of churches rather than a denomination in that there is no hierarchical structure but rather different roles including that of officers and trusteeship.
I was led by the Lord to attend the local Congregational church, where I still am today. I was allowed to bring my dreams and pioneering views and I was encouraged to develop these. I ended up in senior leadership for around seven years. This church also grew because of its openness to the new things that God brings. Since I joined we have had to change venue twice for our Sunday gatherings.
During this time I was involved in pioneering the setting up of a local counselling centre to work with local NHS doctors surgeries. This has been achieved and seven years down the line we have 15 fully trained Christian counsellors who offer affordable secular counselling to the local community. The counsellors come from different churches and have caught the vision for it. We set up a second one in a town nearby which has now grown to 12 counsellors and I am helping two other churches set up in their communities. The need is great, but the success of these projects is down to knowing what God wants and sticking to his plan down to the finest detail.
My dream was to take these blessings of growth and fruitfulness further than I had before and three years ago, the opportunity to apply for the job of church support worker for the Congregational Federation South East came up. The rest is history, I can now bring the ideas and dreams to other churches, enabling them to become more of what Christ intended. To be able to move out into their communities with God’s love in new and creative ways. I can’t tell the churches what to do, but I can encourage them to dream big.
The kind of work I do ranges from teaching and training in leadership to facilitating church/leadership away days, encouraging vision and possibilities, mission and outreach, as well as the importance of staying connected to the greater body of Christ and working ecumenically – and anything in between that will help churches to better partner with God in what he is doing right now in this nation.
Ian: As for me. I have worked for the last year and half as a parish missioner after spending 30 years in the police. I am currently working through how to pioneer in a traditional parish setting. I am based at a medium sized Anglican church in the parish of All Saints, Weston Green. This is in North Surrey close to the London border.
Libby: An English teacher and director of studies by profession, with significant experience overseas, says of herself: “I’m passionate about helping others to come to a fuller realisation of themselves, their calling and their relationship with God. I’m particularly interested in people on the fringes of society, whether due to language difficulties, disabilities, or the influence of certain life choices.”
Pray: please pray for Clemy, Ian and Libby. Pray for their work, and how they outwork what they learnt at the ReSource weekend in Birmingham.
Please also pray for the organisers of the weekend, with gratitude for all the work they put into it, and that they may be blessed as a result.