Jeanette Hewes – my pioneering journey

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Jeanette Hewes is a lay pioneer training with the St Cedd Centre for Pioneer Mission, a pioneer training hub that is a partnership between Church Mission Society and the Diocese of Chelmsford. Here she shares how she learned her calling had a name – Pioneer!

I was born into a non-Christian family which was very dysfunctional. I became a Christian in my late teens, and for the first time, knew that I was loved.

I actually mattered enough for someone to not only notice my existence but to die for me. God cared for every part of my life and his heart broke for the rejection I carried deep inside me.

Two women have coffee and biscuits sat opposite each other on a turquoise picnic table by the roadside
A place where community happens: Jeanette Hawes (left) at the Turquoise Table

When I fell in love with Jesus, I pledged to let my heart break for what broke his.

As I matured over the years in my Christian journey, that promise has matured also. I have always been an activist for the marginalised and longed to act as God wanted me to respond.

I grew up without the experience of proper family love and was determined that my own children would always know how much they were loved and wanted. This led me to set up a Christian youth homelessness charity in the early 2000s.

Since then, I have worked for Frontier Youth Trust on a project for young adult offenders and also managed a foodbank which was founded to respond to the needs caused by the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent austerity measures.

I guess that seeing the world through God’s lens is part of my DNA. I love being part of a church family but am constantly aware of those who feel they don’t belong inside a church.

My vicar searched for four years to find something that would ‘scratch the itch’ of my thirst for deepening my theological understanding, while promoting the call to activism that God placed on my heart.

I went to a Church Mission Society/Chelmsford Diocese pioneer ministry conversations and taster day, and found the way I am wired has a name: Pioneer!

Becoming a student at the St Cedd Centre for Pioneer Mission has enabled me to grow in theological understanding while continuing to practise in the mission field of my local community. More than anything, it has helped me to understand that God is already at work there and I am blessed to be able to join in with what he is doing.

Pioneering is often a lonely journey, so meeting regularly with likeminded people is a huge encouragement.

The Turquoise Table

The St Cedd’s course coincided with my latest venture. I live on a relatively deprived housing estate and we have placed a picnic table in our open plan front garden which we have painted bright turquoise. It has a sign on it, which says: “The Turquoise Table. You are welcome here. A community gathering place.”

It is around the Turquoise Table, that we do ‘church’ in a variety of different ways. There are large community events such as Halloween, Christmas carol service, summer street party and storytime week for the children. But it is also a place for peace and gentleness, where one-to-one conversations take place over a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. It is where the Turquoise Table team meet to pray for our community and to fellowship. It is where those who would not go to church get the opportunity to meet with the Jesus who sat at the Samaritan well and met the needs of a marginalised woman who in turn introduced her community to Jesus.

The Turquoise Table is the meeting hub for the whole community. It is a place of reconciliation where two feuding neighbours came together to sing Christmas carols along with 40+ others and where I can look out of my window and see a bunch of children spending an afternoon doing craft activities organised by their mothers. The community taking ownership.

Jeanette Hewes is a member of Berechurch St Margaret w St Michael, Colchester. She is one of the second cohort of lay pioneers being supported through the St Cedd Centre for Pioneer Mission in the Diocese of Chelmsford.

‘Stepping into the Unknown’

To discover more about pioneer ministry, share ideas with others or discern if you want to join the third cohort at the St Cedd Centre, do come to the on Saturday 18 May 9.30am to 3.30pm to Meadgate Church, Chelmsford, when the Diocese of Chelmsford will be holding a Pioneer Ministry Conversations / Taster Day in partnership with Church Mission Society.

There will be workshops by local pioneers, market place stalls to have conversations with current and previous students from the St Cedd Centre plus others involved in pioneering within the diocese. The keynote speaker will be Paul Bradbury, who is a pioneer practitioner, author and CMS pioneer hub coordinator base in Poole.

To book your place or to find out further information please email: julieclay@thegoodshepherd.co.uk or call her on 01708 745626.

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