For Columbus

Shane smiling and bearded against a cafe backdrop

A stateside graduate of the CMS Pioneer Mission Training MA programme, Rev Shane Tucker is now one the leaders of a network aimed at uniting the church to catalyse change in the city of Columbus, Ohio. He tells more here, along with the reasons the MA prepared him well for this ministry.

Seasons of major transitions are a normal part of life. Whether you welcome or ward them off, they’ll arrive regardless. Some happen to you, and some you create yourself, but all by nature are unsettling (not necessarily in a bad way). While discomfort is to be expected during these seasons, you would be excused for not expecting unbelievable good to come from them…but it is possible. Taking a risk is just that – the opportunity to experience pain and loss, as well as the incredible fulfillment and joy. It’s only in hindsight that we can discern which our circumstances brought us.

The context in which I find myself ministering has recently changed drastically, and yet not at all. For the past five years I was serving as an associate Anglican priest in a fairly well-to-do suburb north of our state’s capital city – Columbus, Ohio. My remit therefore, was the people in our parish, as well as the immediate streets and neighborhoods around the parish. My duties were, as one acquainted with life in a local community of faith in a geographically fixed location, would likely expect: pastoral care, teaching and preaching, hospital visits, coordinating events, and celebrating Eucharist.

Three months ago I began a new season in an entirely new context. We didn’t have to move (thankfully) but ministry context certainly did. The call to this new season of ministry increased in scope and space. I now serve as Director of Lead with For Columbus, a “city gospel movement” which is dedicated to “Uniting the Church of Columbus to be for the city of Columbus”. This is no small task in a city of 2.2 million (predicted to increase by another million in 20 years!) with 1,200 local communities of worshipping believers, and nearly all of them dispersed everywhere across our great city, serving in roles representing every sector of city life.

From a 30,000 foot view, we desire to facilitate “the whole Church bringing the whole Gospel, for the whole City”. On the ground this often translates to us getting the right people, in the right rooms, having the right conversations. While this may sound somewhat prescriptive, it’s actually wonderfully simple and amazing to gather individuals from all across the city, provide some inspiration and encouragement, and watch the Holy Spirit motivate and move those in attendance into Kingdom activity for the good of the city. Working with church leaders, not-for-profit leaders and civic/workplace leaders, we pray and take action to address collective pain points (human-trafficking, education, racial tensions), while pursuing heaven-inspired hopes (evangelism, discipleship, welcoming new Americans) for the flourishing of our city.

My experience of pursuing an MA in theology, ministry and mission with a pioneering focus via CMS has been a great fit for this city-reaching work. The exposure to varying voices from different cultures and contexts, along with self-reflective readings and assignments, has been a good primer for building relationship, and exploring collaboration with, people from different denominations, and those who claim no faith at all.

Moreover, the pioneering spirit and culture which CMS fosters lends significant credibility and solid encouragement to a new frontier of kingdom work across a burgeoning city. I’m grateful to be connected to a community of believers possessing the creativity and courage necessary to follow the Holy Spirit into that ‘new thing’ the Lord spoke of through the prophet Isaiah:

“Forget the things that happened in the past. Do not keep on thinking about them. I am about to do something new. It is beginning to happen even now. Don’t you see it coming?” – Isaiah 43:18-19a, NIV

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