Seems something new is happening.
An announcement was made today.
I’m on the move to St Barnabas.
I’m really excited and very daunted and sad at leaving Greenwich but hopeful of great things in Newham. A move in any type of ministry or work always produces mixed emotions I think. When I visited I loved the place and could picture myself there … and they seem to like me so I believe this is going to be quite exciting. And daunting! But I think I already said that!
Anyway … I don’t move until the end of July / beginning of August with a view to a September start …. so until then I’m continuing seeking God’s way here.
More of this at a later date I am sure …
Sometimes I find myself in some incredibly diverse places which causes me to ponder life, where I am, what I am doing and how I got there. Sometimes those spaces stretch my mind to some limits …
So earlier in the week, as you know, I was at a seminar day considering mission and poverty. I found the day hard hitting and challenging and came away with a refreshed vision to serve in new ways. I got angry over statistics of the mistreatment of people. I remember scenes growing up on my council estate in the early Thatcher years … but that poverty I was part of was nothing to what I was hearing on that day.
Then came last night …. as I attended the 386th Annual Feast of Sion College, held in the amazing surroundings of Clothworkers’ Hall. We had amazing company and speakers, glorious food and wonderful wine. It was a black tie event and I dressed accordingly. I did think about the comments I would have from my childhood friends! How on earth did a council estate boy from Weymouth end up here sitting next to a wonderful guy with ‘Sir’ at the start of his name?!
It was a painful contrast to the subject matter of Tuesday. I thoroughly enjoyed the night and seem to be able to hold the two extremes in some tension … but I am not sure I should be able to? Is it that I am missing something here? It’s true to say that in what has been quite a tough year, Sion College itself, and new friends I have found within it have been immensely supportive and encouraging. And as I said, I thoroughly enjoy being part of this college and having my mind stretched by the quality of our speakers.
How can I get so angry at the injustice of the need for food banks and homeless shelters while sipping wine and eating amazing food in the plush surroundings of the hall we were in last night? I want to say that the conversations we have, the links we make, the things we learn encourage and enable us to step out from those places to make a difference in our individual parts of the world …. but am I kidding myself?
Today I have spent the day with others in the diocese at seminar day on ‘Mission and Poverty’. We had four great speakers; Capt Nick Russel, Fr Paul Butler, Fr Andrew Moughton Mumby and Bishop Karowei. Each of them brought something distinctive, challenging and rich, based entirely on their experience and ministry in the areas they are set in. I recognised in particular that each of them had been in their parishes for more than 10 years (Bishop Karowei was in his parish for around 12 before he became bishop last year).
So …. this isn’t a short term thing!
Nick suggested that to the question of what does mission look like here, then it is best summed up in the words ‘practical love’ … and I think he is totally correct. He spoke a little of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which made laods of sense t be some 30 something years ago when I studied that as a hopeful teacher. Before people can think of transient issues their material needs have to be met. I agree, but on reflection need to ask are the poor and destitute in the majority world then not able to worship … I’m not sure that is true … so although I agree, I am wrestling with what is happening here?
Paul’s words challenged me further as he passionately spoke of gospel values, and asking that of we follow them should there be need in our churches if it is all about sharing and the common life? It’s a hard hitting question that you can’t really shy away from. ‘Go sell your posessions’ says Jesus to the rich guy …. that’s pretty hard hitting teaching! It’s kinda there in black and white ….
Andrew challenged us to think about how we encourage indigenous leadership in our locations and suggested that maybe long courses of study are not quite the direction we should be going in. He also wondered aloud whether when we ask ‘how much will this cost?’ or ‘what is the cheapest way to do this bit of mission?’ we are making money into an idol.
Bishop Karowei rounded off the day by reminding us that all are created in the image of God and that God is for all, loves all, and is interested in all. I think we would have a discussion on God’s preferential for the poor which is where I think I am coming from.
The day was an excellent day … I met new people, we had great discussions, I’ve come away inspired to read stuff again and questioning how I can look at my area with different eyes …. I’ve also been tearful at hearing stories of real life people suffering in this city and know we have to do something … thanks Fr Ian for sorting this out!
I think podcasts of the talks will be put online soon … i’ll link to them when they are up.
well you can
Please support us at Dekhomai this year
If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time you will know that as Dekhomai we attend the MBS fair at Olympia each year.
The stand is really expensive … and loads of other people charge amounts like £50 for ‘stuff’ … but at Dekhomai we offer everything we do …. listening, healing prayer, Jesus Deck and Ruach card readings, blessings ….. all for free ….. it’s God’s stuff anyway so how on earth could we charge!?
But …. we still need to pay the fee for the stand …. so if you donate on our just giving page here you can help us be there again this year
I’ve written lots over the years about the vibrancy and missional opportunity of this place … you can read one such post from a couple of years ago:
Today I have been amazed.
I shouldn’t be.
But I am.
Stunned that God can use some cards to speak powerfully into the lives of people.
To real people.
read more here
Please … donate here so we can be part of this again
I am really enjoying being on the CMS MA course for pioneers. I love the teaching we are engaged in, and I love being part of my year group who are all engaged in creative and amazing ways in God’s mission in their particular communities. I also love being part of this group that recognises we are all just human, good and bad at different stuff … and all united under a feeling, and a reality, that we don’t often feel we ‘fit in’. I feel I ‘fit’ with this group! But …as the title says …
I love the whole course … until it gets to this time of the year when the sun is shining and I need to knuckle down, read books and produce something. Assignments for this course are interesting and fun as well though … recently we had to carry out some ethnographic research and present our findings, and currently I am putting together an essay with a title that asks me to look at symbolism and myth in my choice of a film, novel or piece of art and consider how that might inform my understanding of mission. There were other great titles too like a discussion of whether Jesus needs to be culturally relevant to be understood.
I’ve gone with the film one as I love film and have been considering for quite a few years of the dialogue that occurs between theology/church/mission and film. If it is true that society now propagates myth through film rather than chatting around the fireside as Dr Telford suggests then I want to grapple with that, delve into that, and use what I gain from that in attempting to engage in my community in a relevant and transformative way.
Anyway … I’m not sharing that so you now what I am writing about …. I am sharing my enthusiasm for this course because it is an AMAZING course …. and if you are looking for a course to be really engaging, creative and challenging in a good way then I want to recommend this course to you. Another bonus is, as well, that the course is significantly cheaper than some MA’s out there. There are other pioneer courses with CMS too … check them out.
You can see the prospectus here … ‘fitting in is overrated’ and there is an Open Day coming up on 21 May …. if you can’t make that this flyer gives more dates. be great to see you joining ….
I love days like today ….
a long day ….
full of a variety of things
where I am doing a lot of the stuff I feel I am ok at and that energise me
rather than those draining things that no one likes to do …
The day started in school as I chatted to parents about baptism while on ‘gate duty’.
After having a cup of tea with a member of staff, I rushed off to our secondary school to take the Harvest service …
Did this little trick as part of my talk from my friends at Mission Magic:
It seemed some of the staff and students were pretty impressed as I had a lot of good feedback … and it was fun with a great Harvest message … bonus!
I then rushed to another school to have chat with a member of staff as well as do some self esteem work with a pupil …. before then popping home to prepare food for tonight’s Agapai.
As I knew we had new people coming tonight to Agapai I played safe and produced a vegetarian dish and sorted some stuff in the bread maker … and then I made it back to the secondary school for the prospective Year 7 Open Evening. Here I had some great conversations with current students, staff and prospective new parents.
Finally I got home after 7 in time to finish the meal for tonight Agapai and take the bread out of the bread maker! Tonight we had a great chat, we shared a little of our stories and passions … we had new people … and we ended by praying for each other before sharing some bread and wine with a few of the words from the Northumbria Community’s Eucharist liturgy.
I feel so flipping energised!
The day has flown by ….
… but I feel I have done some of the stuff I was created to do today
So today is a good day
Not perfect … as some things and some people are missing …
but a good day …. and tonight … I am content with that.
Tonight I will be finishing my day with tonight’s Northumbria Community Compline:
The peace of God
be over me to shelter me,
under me to uphold me,
about me to protect me,
behind me to direct me,
ever with me to save me.
Living on the Peninsula can be fun and vibrant.
Homes are being built so quickly that every day I go on a prayer walk I see something new.
This is not because I have poor observation skills but due to the fact that new things are appearing every day.
In my walk today I counted 20 buildings that are now being built or are inhabited that were not present when I moved here 18 months ago.
In the next 18 months there will be at least another 20 and possibly the starting of a new tube station, designed by the amazing Calatrava.
In this setting I am attempting to work with others to build ‘church community’.
It’s a big challenge … but I came here because I like big challenges and it is what inspires me!
I am, though, looking for people to join me in building community and church here.
This feels like a repetitive post … but people come and go here very regularly …. so it is kind of admissible to ask the same thing every three to six months when anywhere between 20 and 50% of the community could have changed.
if you have just moved to the Peninsula, or know someone who has that may be interested, then please put us in touch with each other.
One thing I notice here that I have not encountered elsewhere is that generally people don’t seem to have ‘habits’ like they have in other communities.
By this I mean in other places if I went somewhere on a set day at a set time I would expect to see some of the same people on a regular basis. Not everyone would be in those laces every week or day, much a significant number of them would be.
In those other places this was how I made contact with people, developed relationships, and eventually made friends.
This community is different … and I have wondered a lot why this might be.
In a lot of other areas new development is built in already existing communities of people so that there is a mix of ‘established’ and ‘new’ people mixing in the community. Here, on the Peninsula, we only seem to have the new … buildings being built on what was once just open factory space … where there was once no community we are trying to establish community.
My question is … as it seems we are needing to start from scratch here …. is
How do people start to build community?
What is the actual spark that gets the fire of community flourishing?
It seems to be that people growing in already established community already have that fire and they work together to keep the flame burning. I wonder whether keeping the fire burning is easier that getting the flame started in the first place. Certainly I remember from camping and ‘survival’ days that we were always told t not let the fire go out once we had it stared.
Could that illustration be relevant here today?
I’d really like to hear from others ‘out there’ who are dealing with similar issues …
what is the spark of church community?