Tracey Hallett shares her stand-out stories of a weekend’s pioneer training with Holy Rumpus!, CMS’s partnership with the Diocese of Bath and Wells.
The weekend, as always with the CMS pioneer certificate course, had a holistic wholesomeness about it.
There is trust and mutuality across the group and each of us were able to be vulnerable with each other as we considered what it is to be missional church in contextually appropriate expressions of pioneer ministry.
As we shared our stories of joy, pain, frustrations and success, the Pioneer Spectrum was music to many ears! Being able to place ourselves on a spectrum enabled a sense of affirmation for those who had previously been concerned that even when feeling they do not fit into certain models of church, they were also doubting themselves as being able to qualify as a pioneer.
There was a huge sense of relief as people began to understand where they could locate themselves within the spectrum. This was a gift to experience!
A story shared: Lindsay in Portishead
Lindsay Smith shared her story of how God is calling her to be an ordained pioneer minister.
She had had “various unconnected reasons to meet” another Lindsay (Lindsay C), a Baptist regional minister seeking to bless Portishead.
Lindsay C had been in conversation with the local GP surgery where the practice manager had explained that the partners wanted to use land belonging to the surgery for a community garden.
The hope was to offer a space for “social prescribing”, where health professionals refer patients to non-clinical services in the community, the aim being to “improve the health and wellbeing of many, including but not restricted to older people, those who are lonely and those struggling with mental or emotional health issues”.
The surgery had no one who could cultivate such a garden or be a regular presence within it, so Lindsay C was asked whether she could help. She went away to ponder and pray.
As we listened to Lindsay S talking about her experience, goosebumps and the tingle of hairs on the back of the neck aided us to grasp a sense of the mission of God – the Missio Dei at work.
We heard how over a pot of tea the two Lindsays were getting to know each other. Lindsay S had shared with Lindsay C how she was feeling called to ordained pioneer ministry, but also to stay within Portishead. She mentioned how she loved gardening and had trained in horticulture. Shortly after this Lindsay S received wonderful news that she had been selected to train for ordained pioneer ministry.
And so, although currently in its early stages, “The Garden Project” is beginning to birth and it is hoped that this will become a contextual training placement for Lindsay. It is fabulous that Lindsay C, who has a specialism in pioneering new forms of church, will supervise Lindsay in this part of her training.
The two Lindsays’ vision is wider than that of social prescribing. Lindsay S says they want The Garden Project “to be a place where anyone can come, where it’s ok not to be ok, and also somewhere that anyone is welcome to wander, enjoy the garden, the space, or simply be – and hopefully one day get a cuppa and a bit of cake!
“The garden project will be an imperfect community garden with Jesus at its centre. A place of Shalom offering peace, wholeness and harmonious growth.” Watch this space as the story unfolds!
A shared story: Alice in Wonderland
There was a sense of awe and wonder within the whole group when Kathryn introduced an Alice in Wonderland Agape and specially adapted liturgy.
We were all taken by surprise as she had created a special service that connected with each of us in the moment, met us individually and corporately in our need, and hit right at the heart of our humanity!
I am sure I am not alone in saying that the agape we shared and the liturgy we heard was full of the divinity of God.
Sharing in the intimacy of this agape offered each of us some space and time to draw closer to God and each other, as we accepted the most awesome invitation to experience the transcendence of God with us in community.
One of the pioneers said: “The agape was a real highlight for me; a beautiful way of sharing together with some very thought provoking liturgy.”
Mad Hatter’s Creed
We believe in God, the Father almighty
Creator of his Wonderland
Who sees us as we will become
We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord
The Cheshire Cat, a companion on our journey
The Mad Hatter, storyteller, teacher, friend,
Who walks with us as we are
We believe in the Holy Spirit
The mysterious white rabbit
Inviting us to follow
A path unseen