The Missioner’s Conference in Merville was, for me, a great experience; and I want to thank Fresh Expressions for allowing me to attend on their behalf. It was great to have the opportunity to hear both the wider narrative of missionary thinking and the narrow nuts and bolts of good ideas for me to apply in my local context. It was therefore for me a great learning opportunity.
Our reflection was largely based on the work of Lesslie Newbigin led by Paul Weston of Ridley Hall. This explored the radically ecumenical outlook of Newbigin and his concepts of Kingdom, Community and Proclamation.
The opportunity to engage with others and discover their take on the role of Fresh Expressions in the mission culture of the church was considerable. Many in the Missioners Network had engagement with FE, and spoke positively of it. A small group of us gathered together in a forum to share our work with FE and to pray. In this group we considered the preparation of Pioneer Ministers, especially the courses for the preparation of Pioneer Ministry. Jonny Baker is doing some interesting work in this area. Of key concern was the lack of Pioneer Curacies, resulting in the newly ordained serving titles in traditional parishes, for which they might not be appropriately prepared. Many dioceses had sponsored Pioneer training only to release ordinands to other dioceses and this was felt to be unfortunate. Maybe we should be more proactive in encouraging dioceses in their vision for this special ministry.
As a result of this conference, I have the opportunity myself to help develop further exploration of the sacramental tradition of FE in other localities; a number of Missioners were extremely interested in the Sacramental contribution that I can make in their areas; and I look forward to seeing fruit in that: perhaps with some other speaking engagements or Blesséd away games.