anglican cell uk is developing as a site with articles and content being added regularly. making small/cell/mission communities at the heart of church life rather than an add on is a direction i think lots of people are going in. and i think there are lots of people who have left churches who are finding themselves instead meeting with friends occasionally, often over a meal for prayer and friendship to support each other on the journey of faith. i have chatted to two groups in the last week doing just that. one of the conversations was around ideas for what works in terms of prayer and/or reflection or worship in that small group meal setting which is very different to a larger group.
anyway hopefully community chest will gradually build up a reservoir of ideas that people are using that can be shared... if you have particular ideas you have used do share them over there.
a few people knew i was invited to lead worship for uk worship songwriters on monday night mainly because i was very nervous about it! i persuaded several others from grace to help. we were given the theme of journey and invited to lead people in something experiential...
i have added the outline with links to the various bits and pieces in the grace archive.
another frosty morning on saturday. i called in at walpole park on the way to get the paper and got distracted by the beauty of the morning and the sunrise. no mist but amazing light through the trees. i love this time of year. pics over at my flickr pages of course.
today i am preparing to lead a worship slot/experience on the theme of journey at the worship songwriters consultation tonight. lots of well known uk songwriters/worship leaders will be there so i am feeling more nervous about this particular worship leading than any i've done for a long time! fortunately several friends at grace are coming along to help...
wallspace have a new exhibition that has started this week - epiphany: contemporary iconographers in britain . i will definitely be visiting at some point. this is the blurb...
For Epiphany we have gathered together 15 contemporary, traditional iconographers who live and work in the UK for what we believe is the first exhibition of its kind. While there have been survey exhibitions of icons from other places in the world, there has never been an opportunity to get the work of the very best iconographers in Britain together in one place.
Not all of these iconographers are UK-born, but they all work here. And while all the icons shown are contemporary, they are nonetheless produced in the traditional manner, using authentic ancient designs and methods. The exhibition is timely, given the current revival of interest in icons and their increasing appearance in cathedrals and parish churches across the country.
Epiphany includes work by:
Matushka Patricia Fostiropoulos
Dr Guillem Ramos-Poqui
Dr Stéphane René
The exhibition is designed to give an overview of current work being done in this profound tradition. It will also provide an opportunity to explore the influence of traditional iconography on British churches' approach to the use of images in private devotion and public liturgy. And importantly, it opens the debate about the influence of this age-old tradition on 21st century artists and on current art practice.
NET is still developing and growing. the next gathering is on monday.
Monday November 26th
6:30 -8:30 on the HMS President
Imagine if we all did ....
Ordinary people donating time and skills to support the marginalised.
Come and hear about their partnerships in Zanzibar, Ethiopia and Cambodia.
Lisa Sertin will be sharing the vision and journey of Who Cares with us
Nathalie McDermott, Graduate of the School of Social Entrepreneurs and founder of
On The Road Media will also be with us
HMS PRESIDENT (1918)
Nearest Tube: Blackfriars
some photos i take i have a look at in black and white and colour. it's sometimes hard to decide which looks better. black and white can look more classic and arty. one photo i couldn't decide about was the recent frost on ealing common.
i really enjoyed taking part in blah... oxford last night. the bar in the phoenix cinema was a great space for it. the theme was on emerging church and i was given the task of getting the conversation going which i did by sharing a few stories and reflections. what struck me about the evening is how valuable it is to have spaces to talk where you can be honest and real, ask questions and express fears and so on. i think i take that for granted as i am often in spaces that are like that but it was clearly new for some people there which is great. it was hosted by maybe and home, two emerging church communities in oxford and i hope the conversation continues...
as i was writing this post i remembered ian at maybe saying something about their spirit (what we call our ethos at grace) so i had a read through it and i found it really interesting to read another community's values at their core -
grace | space | wonder | grit | resistance | laughter | presence
i was away at the weekend so couldn't join in but grace joined with others from thetruthisntsexy and did a pub crawl round ealing and persuaded 30 pubs to take beer mats and posters raising awareness about sex trafficking. it sounds like it went brilliantly. it's encouraging that our ethos words risk and engage are nudging us into this sort of action...
tim sent me an e-mail about an evening he created for the young people he works with in ohio. it's a really simple idea (that actually also must have taken hours to put together!)...
come up with a playlist of songs that connect with both the music your young people are into and that connect with spiritual themes in some way or open up questions. send them the playlist so they can burn it onto their mp3 players (you may need a few spare). then create a booklet/postcards or something to accompany the songs and invite the young people to seek god in the music using the booklet to jot down their thoughts/reflections. the worship experience is simply that - they sit down or walk around and listen. tim created a graphic page with comments and questions for each song. they are listed in a series of 14 posts on his blog. this is the first so just click through from there. an example of the image with a track i know is UNKLE burn my shadow away
sounds like it went really well. i can imagine harry (my 15 year old) loving this kind of thing. we could try it at grace some time though there is a range of tastes in music so it might be a challenge. this may be a really obvious thing to say but it strikes me as really important to use music that young people listen to and not a load of christian music tracks - the whole point is helping them find god in the everyday and not in the christian subculture (not to mention which music is better ;-) ). anyway nice one tim...
congratulations to jenny who has been working hard over the last few months with 5 friends to realise a dream of starting the sophia network, a network for women youth ministers. the network was launched at the youthwork conferences in eastbourne and southport. the aims are...
to celebrate women in youth work and ministry, what we have achieved and what we are contributing to the kingdom of God. We want to increase the visibility of women in youth work, making the wider church aware of the fantastic work that women are doing. The Sophia Network will enable women in youth work to connect with each other, share skills and experiences and offer encouragement and support.
it costs £20 to join but there is an offer of buy one get one free until the end of december so sign up (if you are a woman) and invite a friend. i think this is a brilliant idea and hope it goes really well. there are some photos of the launch here.
enjoyed seeing AIR for the first time thursday night though it confirmed for me that they have never quite reached the heights of their first album since!...
off to take a couple of seminars at youthwork conference today. i haven't been for years, not since i chaired it for several years when it was brainstormers (anyone remember that? showing my age!). maybe see some of you there...
i know some of you follow blogs in news readers in which case you miss the conversation that goes on in comments. so you might want to revisit the post earlier this week - an emerging profession:leadership in the new environment which has generated some good discussion and blogs elsewhere in the blogosphere. the longest response i have found so far is from paul roberts, who makes some great points about leadership and the difference between how accountability plays out for emerging congregations and emerging churches. i have chimed in in the comments on my post and commented on paul's post but thought it worth cutting and pasting a few of the things i've said, as much for gathering my own thoughts as anything else...
...it works because we are located within the anglican structure in a parish church. we want to be related in rather than separate. if we were starting out as a separate church community i guess we'd either look to find somewhere or seek relational connection/blessing and explore what we needed to do to make that work. you have to work with your context. that's why i am supportive of people going the ordained route and those that are not - it just depends where you stand. with different circumstances i appreciate that we might have gone down a route of encouraging someone to be ordained (though i think they would play a different role to most and not be salaried) or of leaving or of a number of other options.
i do fear that emerging church has set up quite a number of churches that are too expensive to run. they seem predicated upon having a full time person. funding exists for a few years start up but the church can't sustain a full time salary beyond that. so i am very interested in ways of doing things that start small and cheaply and don't have that crisis...
(in response to comment that the vicar is the leader albeit light touch and permission giving) ...in that case he is a model of leadership in absentia - gives permission, but doesn't ever come, doesn't ask what we are doing, and meets with us maybe twice a year to catch up (initiated by us rather than him). this suits us just fine. i guess he trusts us which is great.
it would be interesting to see what happened if that changed. we did have a situation of conflict with the st marys many years ago when the church was between vicars when we were read the riot act by a slightly power hungry curate over liturgies we could use etc. we contacted the bishop and got a letter of permission giving us the right to use liturgies that were experimental and the pcc relaxed and the curate left shortly after anyway. of course it is possible at that point that the church could have clamped down on us and i suspect we would just have left and found a home elsewhere. or met in the pub over the road (which might be a good idea anyway of course).
i think my most interesting thoughts about leadership are less about paid/unpaid ordained/unordained and more about how leadership functions - i.e. things like it creates an environment of participation and gift exchange rather than dependency (which invariably is the default position of the clergy/laity construct that seems hard to break whatever you try)...
(in response to paul's post) ...1. in describing grace it is pragmatic. that’s how we work it and it works because of the context we are in (congregational model in st marys with light touch and permission from vicar and bishop). you are absolutely right.
2. i think if this were challenged the 3 options you outline are also right - cease to be Anglican, get Bishop to provide some mode of episcopal oversight (using bishop’s mission order now passed as legislation i think?), or it would need to come under the patronage of another parish church. i am 99% certain we could get the second option. we have always preferred to remain connected to the wider body of christ rather than independent and the bishop is very supportive of grace (in absentia!).
3. where i part company is in your use of the term “a church”. i want to resist that kind of language. by that definition church means independence in a structure of independent units - and in real terms independence of governance and monies. i personally prefer to reserve the word church for the whole body of christ global and down the ages. everything else is simply an expression of the body of christ in a particular context.
so st marys is an expression of the body of christ, grace is an expression. st pauls cathedral is an expression. church is about being connected to christ and the wider body - it’s interdependent. or i’d say church is a verb - all those groups are churching it. we manage monies and govern grace as it is. the shift you describe doesn’t make us “a church”, only in legal terms of the c of e - maybe that’s what you meant?… this seems to me to be one of the challenges of the moment we are in. because of the wider cultural shifts especially in communication technologies - e.g. connectivity, networks and participation, the “a church” thing no longer makes sense, at least not to me…
25 is a set of comic pages from illustrator si smith. each comic page tells an aspect of the christmas story. the speech bubbles on the pages have been left blank for you to fill in or tell the story in your own words and ways. there is also a digital advent calendar with 25 windows that are hyperlinks to the comic page of that number. as if that wasn't enough, there are then 25 flatpack models that you can print on card, cut out and glue to make the characters that relate to the day of that number.
many of you will be familiar with si smith's amazing 40 resource for lent. i love his work. it's breathtakingly good. and manages to work for all ages. the drawings in 25 are recognisably his style and the models are creative and fun.
blackburn diocese of the church of england had the vision/nous to commission this resource. they have produced a CD ROM with these resources on along with all sorts of other worksheets, powerpoints song suggestions and other stuff. you can order this from them for £25 plus VAT by e-mailing jean .
si and the diocese have kindly agreed to let us sell the resource as a download on proost so that it can reach a wider audience. so i am very excited to announce it as this month's upload. we've uploaded it as early as possible to give you time to think about using it for christmas/advent. we have done it as two downloads - the comic and calendar, and then the models. it's in the books section of the web site. if you become a subscriber, you get access to our new content every month as well as the whole back catalogue - what are you waiting for?!
i could imagine using it in a christmas service of all ages, in a classroom setting at a school, in childrens ministry groups at a church, or in a home/family setting. so for example with a family, each day in december open up the advent calendar on your computer. invite a family member to click on the window of that date in december and tell the story together. you could find that part of the story in the bible. you could print that page off to give everyone for that day or look at it on the computer. print off the model for that day from the flatpack and then each day someone in the family (or everyone if you want to make more) can make the model and gradually build up a nativity scene through december.
like all proost resources, use with imagination. we'd love to hear how you use it. take a photo and/or e-mail us a story.
at one level it's a bit embarrassing making a proost resource a worship trick but it's si smith's work, we love it and it totally desrves to be one - worship trick 16 in series 3.
drew ditzel is studying to be a pastor in the usa. we've never met but he contacted me to ask me to take part in a connected online conversation about ministers and their role in the church in the new environment. he has blogged about the conversation and links to 5 other bloggers who are addressing the subject. at the time of writing i haven't read any of those posts. there's no reason of course why the conversation should be limited to those he has invited. if you have something to say just blog away and put a comment somewhere with a link to your post or tag it with an emerging profession. his initial e-mail to me summed his concerns as follows...
I have many fears about being an ordained pastor. Really too many to count, but two again and again raise their thought provoking head stimulating my doubts and massaging my insecurities. The first is leading a faith community but not being apart of it. To work at the church picnic but not feel I am sharing a meal. This separation between the ordained, paid staff and the congregants seems to breed inauthentic relationships.
The second fear is leading a congregation that can rest easy in my leadership. I fear that if I stand up to preach and call the congregation to seek justice for the oppressed, to love their enemy, and follow God with all their heart, mind and soul, they will stand and in all sincerity proclaim in half statement half question, "Don't you get paid to do that for us?"
the first thing that springs to mind is the community i am part of grace. this is how it plays out there. i am not for a moment suggesting this is an ideal model or one others should follow but actually i have grown to appreciate it more and more...
1. we don't employ anyone to lead us or to be the minister. we are a group of friends/christians who take responsibility together. this has worked well for 14 years now. we are part of an anglican church, and the simplest way to understand how we connect is that we are a congregation of st marys,ealing - one of four.
2. we have an ethos that has emerged from the community over the years . this can be summed up with four words - creativity, risk, participation and engage. we are currently exploring hospitality and may add it as a fifth word at some point. this ethos functions like a rule or measure and has shaped us more than we thought it would.
3. leadership is shared and dispersed within the community. currently we have a small group of three who facilitate communication, ensure stuff gets talked about that needs to be and that decisions are brought to the group that need to be made. a monthly meeting and discussions via e-mail are the way things get talked about in the community and decisions made. when it comes to leading , whether worship services or activities that engage in the wider community, one person will generally take the initiative and pull together a team to get involved with them in doing that thing. so different people take the lead on different occasions. we have a high value on participation so it's difficult to be part of grace and not participate in something. and there's plenty of opportunity to lead or minister. and if there's something you have a passion for that isn't happening you can raise it with the group, and the chances are you'll be encouraged to go for it and encourage others to get involved with you. i.e. there's a low permission threshold.
so leadership for us is
1. dispersed - done by different people at different times with different gifts
2. about guarding the ethos - we have come to see this as a key role of what the smaller group are entrusted to do
3. environmental - by which i mean that the role of leadership is not doing stuff, but creating the environment whereby stuff happens and people relate to one another easily and participate.
in relation to the tradition we are in (anglican), the one thing we can't do without having someone ordained is lead communion. we have been in the fortunate position over the last few years of having different people at different times who have been ordained and so have brought that gift to the community. currently dean who is a chaplain at the local university and part of grace can fulfil that role and does so really well.
the two fears that drew expresses are not a problem for us. everyone feels and is part of the community and can bring who they are - gifts and struggles - to the table. and no one is a professional or paid. i actually think it's a liberating position for people who are ordained to be in a community that they don't lead. it enables them to feel and be human like everyone else rather than the expert. and overall we are a community where you have to take responsibility for your faith - there's no dependency, which i think can be a real issue in many churches.
i remember a discussion at grace around ordination a while back over coffee and someone said "either we all get ordained or none of us get ordained" which was amusing at the time but does capture the sense that as a community leadership is shared and owned and not something we expect an outside professional to do for us.
so that's the community i'm part of and how we work it out.
more widely the emerging church is forever talking about this issue. some within the emerging church are embracing the opportunities to get trained and ordained to fulfil their sense of calling/vocation. the anglican church has smartly opened up a new pathway for ordination for what it is calling pioneer ministers and quite a lot of people i know are going to get ordained via that route. the thinking is that the current training and so in is really aimed at pastor/teacher sort of gifting. but pioneers might have and need a very different set of skills and approach and training. i think this is a great move and suspect it will end up changing the landscape. the danger is that these pioneers are having to slot into an institution that has older understandings of leadership and doesn't yet know how to rethink or re-imagine them. there are unlikely to be paid jobs for a lot of these pioneers and in my heart i think that's a good thing as they will have to genuinely pioneer new things on the margins, albeit with the blessing of the church, and grow things that are self sustaining. others within the emerging church are really quite anti the whole ordination thing, emphasising the body of christ and its priestly callng in all areas of life. i don't want to rehearse the debate here. but i think it is an important one. i tend to be pragmatic and want both/and. i think we need people inside the structures and denominations with a calling to renew, pioneer and effect change - to be there you have to work with the system. but i also think we need people who are not prepared to play that game and want to do stuff on the edges and margins. if you get renewal flowing in both directions that strikes me as a good thing! that's why i want to encourage people with both approaches.
the church is in transition so struggles about leadership are part of the wider cultural shifting landscape. those at home in the new environment will have the instincts about leadership that are likely to herald the future. but it will take a while to change.
the birds in flight in brighton are amazing whether the gulls over the old pier or the starlings that fill the skies over the new pier.
this is like a reverse image of the in flight iffley that i took recently. it's the shapes and patterns that catch my eye i think. i love this line of starlings looking like they are taking off.