“It’s a Northern thing…” – Northern Pioneer Mission Centre opens

A screenshot from Virtual Mountain Pilgrims event as part of the training

The Northern Pioneer Mission Centre – a new collaboration between CMS and God for All, the ecumenical partnership in Cumbria – saw 18 students from as far as Edinburgh, Newcastle, Northumberland, Sheffield and Halifax join locals on 12 September for the first weekend of the CMS Certificate in Pioneer Mission.

Starting online due to Covid, it was clear that we had connected with the right people as they shared stories and we unpacked Pioneering Mission for the first module.

The ministry discussed was as wide as the geography with creative schools work, artistic spiritual journalling groups, youth ministry, food banks, young adult fresh expressions to name a few.

It all gave a great backdrop as we explored Jesus the pioneer, the pioneer spectrum, culture and pioneer mission.

They say “don’t reinvent the wheel” and I was able to draw on the wisdom of other hubs as we prepared the course and I am particularly grateful to Bath & Wells and St Cedd’s for some of their resources which gave us time to up the creative elements for our weekend.

I was amazed at how well it worked running online. We sent out creative packs in advance for students to use as we went through the weekend including blank beer mats for them to design a pub church and scratch cards for reflective spaces. Put together with videos and reading in advance, this meant plenty of laughs, group work space and deep learning.

Two highlights for me: firstly on Sunday morning when the students bought their families into the session as we adapted one of our virtual Mountain Pilgrims events from lockdown as an illustration of contextual mission.

It was great to see the children (and grandchildren) join in the foraging exercise as we sent them out to look for hairy bittercress and played with the exodus story.

Secondly, the creativity being applied to the evidence of learning. One of the tasks set is to review a missional book or listen to the Nomad podcast with Edwina Gately. Edwina shares a brilliant story of siting down for doughnuts with a group and I think I may be getting one student submitting their review on doughnuts instead of paper! Here’s hoping…

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