Finding the in-between place: interview with Claire Elwood

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Claire-ElwoodClaire joined the CMS Pioneer training course in 2014, and Helen Harwood asked her more about her mission context and what the course means to her.

HH: Tell me something about the context you are in outside of CMS…

CE: I have been a long term member of St Nic’s church in Nottingham city centre (27 years or more). I currently co-lead Tea and Toast (late night outreach to student clubbers) and my missional community, Levi’s Banquet. Somewhere along the line I have also gained the title ‘prayer coordinator’ which means I curate prayer rooms, deanery prayer days, teach on prayer etc. Preaching and pastoral care are also within my remit.

What drew you into pioneering mission?

I am a starter rather than a finisher and I get bored easily; pioneering suits both those characteristics! God has always drawn me alongside people a bit on the edge, damaged – and church is not always a comfy place for them so I like to find the in-between place where conversation and healing can still happen without the formality and strangeness of church. Basically, I love any interaction that brings someone closer to Jesus, not bothered how or when that happens.

What have been some of the highs and lows of your involvement in mission?

Highs: those great conversations where God myths are debunked; someone welcomes prayer; someone decides they’ll give church or Levi’s a go. Lows: fragile lives often mean inconsistent lives so the discipling can be a long, patient, forgiving slog.

What led you specifically to this course?

I loved the creative elements, it looked for the first time like a course that would suit me rather than me trying and failing to suit it. I learn best by doing so the emphasis on context and practice is a win win for me.

How has the course helped you in your mission context?

I have a new language and words and awareness when it comes to crossing cultures of age or circumstance. Definitely beginning to feel more confident in my theological understanding which is, in turn, giving me more confidence in ‘mission situations’.

What does the future hold for you in terms of mission?

More of the same for this academic year certainly. I’m hoping to team up with a Pioneer in the north of the diocese to explore Mind Body Spirit fairs/New Age spirituality with a view to taking part on a stand at a fair but this is all still to be confirmed.

How can we pray for you?

Apart from energy for the late nights and courage to obey when God’s asking me to do something outrageous, a deeper knowledge of God’s love for me so that I can communicate that love to all I meet… for without love, the rest is rubbish.

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