Challenged and inspired: celebrating the first cohort of lay pioneers in Chelmsford diocese

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On Saturday 13 October the first cohort of students at the St Cedd Centre for Pioneer Mission will receive their certificates as Lay Pioneer Ministers. The St Cedd Centre is a partnership between Church Mission Society and the Diocese of Chelmsford, and is the first pioneer hub away from the CMS base in Oxford.

Having completed the 18 month formation programme Jenny Allan, from the Church of the Good Shepherd in Romford, shared some of her insights with David Hague prior to the ceremony at Chelmsford Cathedral.

Jenny is pioneering at two ends of the pioneer spectrum. Firstly as a ‘pioneer adaptor’ with Lighthouse, an alternative all age gathering on Sunday afternoons, originally aimed at those involved with Sunday morning children’s sporting activity. Jenny is also now beginning to operate as a ‘pioneer activist’ with an initiative to create an ethical fashion business.

“The modules have sometimes challenged my views. It has made me aware of how ‘churched’ I am, having grown up in the church, and how this lens affects my decisions and thoughts.”

Jenny reflects on her developing pioneer practice with Lighthouse: “The first module with Roxburgh’s book challenged me about attractional church not working, and that we are called to be out in our community. It made me think about whether it would be more effective if the Lighthouse concept was taken, for example, into schools as an after school activity.”

For Lighthouse Jenny has also valued, “the teaching on worship and to question the appropriateness of sung worship within a missional meeting.” She has had confirmed, “that food is important and eating together builds relationship, and the importance of theological reflection to review what we are doing regularly.”

Regarding the ethical fashion business, Jenny says: “Earlier modules made reference to the joining of secular and sacred. This is applicable to joining my faith and secular fashion experience, which is at the heart of what I am trying to do.”

She found the teaching in the final module, Mission Entrepreneurship, to be inspirational. “We were encouraged to look at our resources and list what we have, and to think through what steps I can take to move forward. The importance of collaboration and building team were highlighted. Questions were asked such as: do I understand the problem sufficiently, so that I can ensure my solution fits the problem? What roadblocks do I face? How might I overcome them? How will I measure success? Then the challenge of do I need to return to India? I was considering booking a trip to India and it confirmed that this was the right thing to do.”

At the end of the 18 month programme Jenny realised she needs to free up time to invest in the ethical fashion initiative. She has stood down from leading a weekly Bible study group for mums. “As I reflected and prayed about this, I became aware that there were opportunities that could be developed as part of the Thursday mums’ group to make it more missional. I realised that in what I was already doing, I could also have been more intentionally missional.” The new leadership team of the mums’ group is now considering this question, with support from the St Cedd Centre team.

Jenny concludes: “I feel like I still have a lot of unanswered questions, but it’s definitely made me think!”

David Hague is vicar of the Church of the Good Shepherd

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