i have been so busy i have just realised i have not posted yet about gather wild-erness on anglesey. it was an event not to miss. liz dunbar has posted a review here and there are some lovely photos in it from mark kensett. i have a very simple theory that movements need spaces to collide - that's how connections get made, ideas shared, emergence happens, and you get encouraged. all of that and more happened. the content was amazing too. people keep asking me what's next - i have no idea at this point! but i am sure we will gather again. a few of my photos are here but i didnt take that many so go look at mark's.
just when you have cleared your house of books a second print run arrives and refills the lounge! seriously i am so chuffed to have had to do a second print run of pioneer practice - thank you so much everyone who has cheered me on and/or bought a copy.
the pioneer practice tour has passed the half way point. it's been brilliant connecting with the wider network, meeting pioneers, hearing stories. this is me in a cafe at poole harbour sat catching some sun on what was a glorious summer day before diving into the fray there.
one of the lovely stories there was how a simple idea of a few raised beds and a bench has created community in a street. this is the bench.
the next gigs are all on the tour page with links to register and get tickets under each location - stafford, leicester, brighton, sheffield are in june. we'd love to see you there. they are all double acts with me and gav this month. they all have evenings too with a chance to get some food and conversation as well as the tour stuff. i confess i am doubly excited that we are visiting candid beer in stafford which was an idea brought to our make good week by mark bamping, and we get to visit new lubbesthorpe where sue steer has been building community in a new housing area since before the very first house was built and she has done an amazing job. looking forward to all the venues i should add!
i have now cracked into the very last box of books from the first print run which feels amazing - thank you so much everyone who has bought it. so we have now ordered a second print run which feels very exciting for our very first project from getsidetracked. they will arrive in time for the june leg of the tour - june here we come (via anglesey of course).
i am really delighted we (cms) have a new pioneer hub in birmingham - the newbigin pioneering hub that will be starting the cms certificate in mission this september. it will be hosted by ash and anj barker and is a partnership with the united reformed church, cms and seedbeds. there is a taster day this saturday (short notice) do have a look at the prospectusget in touch if you are interested and do pass on to anyone in the area who may be interested. it's open to anyone to join.
new york london, paris, munich everybody talk about mmm... ok showing my age and if you get the reference you are too - pop musik by m in case you were wondering.
not quite those locations but this week pioneer practice heads to newcastle and bristol. it's not too late to sign up. love to see you there. the week after i am heading south west - i'll be in yeovil and poole. all the dates are on the tour page here.
it was so wonderful last week to get to spend a few days in scotland with pioneer practice tour packing in 5 gigs in 4 days along with gav mart. we were hosted by steve aisthorpe who had helped pull together the itinerary. he even had a van so it was like a proper tour bus :)
each location was different but my biggest takeaway really was that in each location the start point seemed to be us being told that there's not really a lot of pioneer practice going on, but by the end of the session when we had invited stories to be shared it was clear that all sorts of things are happening and bubbling up around the edges. it feels a good time (at least from the outside) in that networks are forming, there is a pioneer scotland facebook group, and so many good people involved across the board in encouraging, networking, training across denominations and streams. and crucially imaginative practice. scotland you have enough in your hand.
we bumped in to various scottish phrases along the way - it reminded me of kate fox's watching the english book where she explores phrases to get at englishness. i wish i'd written them all down. but one that stayed with me was 'who do you think you are?' - which was some peoples way of saying it is a hard culture to stick your head above the parapet. and yet when we did a poll on pioneer practice the top answer in every location was it's about seeing and imagining. so those gathered really seemed to embody something different, or at least their answer to that question was 'a possibility people' (for those old enough to remember that is a nod to a late late service rant which of course was a scottish liturgy).
thank you for having us! this is a rare moment when we had a minute to catch our breath on montrose beach - thanks to gav for the pic
the pioneer practice tour really gets going after easter. next up is an evening in london hosted in southall with food to kick off. if you are in or around london hope to see you there. the evening is free or maybe will ask for a donation but it would help to know numbers so please do register. then it's 5 gigs in scotland at the start of may...
gather wilderness on anglesey is from june 2-5. i was in cumbria last week and a couple of people there who know anglesey for holidays said this gathering is cheaper than you could find anything to just stay on angelsey on that peak weekend. i must admit i can't wait. it's a gorgeous location, beaches nearby, a light programme with plenty of space to collide with others and hang out. this latest flyer has a bit more info on it. there are around 100 coming so far which will be perfect but there's plenty of room for some more. it's the double bank holiday weekend. it's open to anyone - i say that because someone i spoke to assumed you need to be in a cms network - not so. if you want to hang out and be with creative pioneering types come along. all we need now is the sun to shine!
i am really excited to be able to share that i will be heading off on tour with pioneer practice. gavin mart, a fellow pioneer, musician, poet will be joining me. the poster above is the current state of play but will no doubt evolve. but we will keep the tour page on getsidetracked up to date with links to booking pages for events as they land. some are day time, some are evening and some are doing both!
the book pioneer practice is about seeing possibility, dreams, ideas of how things could be better or new or different. and then making something happen out of that seeing. the events will be practically focused with a mix of stories, exercises, poetry, songs, conversation, inspiration and encouragement. ideal if you are interested in pioneering or in encouraging others who are. and ideal If you are new as it will be an opportunity to reflect on how to get started and explore your god given ideas. and if you have been pioneering a while it will give you some encouragement and practical wisdom for the journey you are already on. it is also a given that it will be a great chance to connect with others interested in pioneering.
if you are interested in hosting and there isnlt anything near you then give me a shout as we are open to more dates.
and before anyone mentions it yes i do feel like i am treading in the shoes of harry baker. i'll have a merch bag and everything!
every year at cms we host a conversations day. we pick a theme relevant to pioneering mission and practice and invite a bundle of contributors to explore it through workshops, talks, conversation and art. the very first one was on the pioneer gift out of which we published the book of the same name and every year since we have either published a book or edition of anvil. last year's was the wonderful and crazy gather online festival in which we explored pioneer practice. it's been a great space for colliding with other pioneers or those interested in pioneering and having a chance to reflect together and dig deep into something.
this year has escalated into being hosted simultaneously in penrith and in oxford on tuesday april 5 so you can attend either one in person. the places are inevitably a bit more limited than previous years due to social distancing requirements in venues so book early if you are craving that on site experience. but there is also an online option and in that you will be able to choose any of the sessions from either the north or south versions! so it's new kind of hybrid which should be fun. and for those of you in more remote locations it makes it accessible.
the theme is exploring issues related to flourishing in pioneering mission and sustainability. see the link below where that is expanded on and there is a list of contributors.
for those of you in the cms pioneer starfish network (i.e. you have done some training with us in oxford or in a hub) make sure you select the reduced starfish ticket. and if you are a current student select the free online ticket option.
there is a london pioneer gathering on march 3. i am loving getting out and about a bit now and reconnecting with people so looking forward to it. it's also a chance to hear tina hodgett reflect on the pioneer spectrum which she is one of the creators of. she will be in conversation with ric thorpe and i am assuming there will be some reflection on how planting and pioneering fit into the wider ecosystem. you do not have to be anglican or in london diocese to come by the way! hope to see you there if you are in or around london. it's free - please register so we know how many to expect
i was delighted to hear harvey kwiyani sharing his story on the comb bbc world service podcast and being described as
the go to guy for african church leaders looking to reach out to communities around them
i have been friends with harvey for several years now and learned loads from him. it's a delight to have him leading the african diaspora route through the ma at cms. we are half way through the first year and it couldn't have gone better really. one of the issues he discusses is that in terms of revitalising the church in post christian britain, africans bring a wonderful gift of faith. but the challenge is that very often the churches they grow replicate the culture of the leaders so become largely nigerian or ghanaian say. it is then harder for others to join and feel at home and can be hard to engage well in the community. there is such a great connection with pioneer training because pioneers are asking a similar question. they are on their own adventure of the imagination to see how faith can connect with all sorts of people and communities where they are without those people having to cross the threshold of church which can seem very strange or foreign.
the pioneer training at cms is wonderful and we are so privileged to get such creative people who join us. if you are interested in the diaspora ma or the pioneer training we do we have an open day coming up on february 28 - actually that's a misnomer it is an hour and a half online! love to see you there.
on thursday it is the final in my pioneer practice webinar series. i remember last year the series i did took over my january and this year's been no different but it's been fun and so many people have turned out! i have three guests - ed walker, betsy blatchley and tina hodgett. we'll be exploring change both in terms of how you create change in the world but also how you navigate systems or the powers that be which seem resistant to change. i'll be interviewing the guests and doing some exercises - one of the exercises will be trickster's wheel of ruses that i have created for a photo group i'm in but it's so good i want to try it out on the guests!
it's not too late to register and if you do you'll get sent links to the first three webinars to watch. hope to see you there.
i apologise that i have not managed to get my act together for any other blog entries since starting the webinars but i'll get back on it including an exciting announcement.
this thursday is the third in the webinar series on pioneer practice. the answer above is from a survey i did asking what tools help you in pioneering. build is this week's theme. i have three guests - one to talk about building a congregation, one a social enterpise based out of a church and one a business for good. they are idina dunmore, meg fry and steve baker. do join - you can register here. i keep getting asked if people can see previous weeks - the answer is yes you will get sent links to those if you are registered.
thank you so much everyone who came along to last week's webinar and especially the guests. the chat was buzzing! in the poll of which of 5 things best described those present in relation to pioneering the top answer was 'seeing and imagining new possibilities'. so i am delighted to say that 'see' is the theme of week two where we will be exploring how you see possibilities, come up with ideas and use imagination. i have four guests this week related to three projects. susannah baker and khadeja, sue steer, and anna hembury. come and hear their inspiring stories of practice. i am looking forward to it.
if you missed week 1 you are still really welcome. register here and you will be sent the webinar info the day before. and you will get sent a link to week 1 so you can catch up should you wish to though no pressure to do so. hope to see you there. the series is a partnership between church mission society and heartedge.
i am really looking forward to the pioneer practice webinar series. week 1 is exploring the idea of be you (and as it's the first an intro to pioneering and how you might get started). i have three guests joining me. it will be informal, chat show style. it's free to join - register here and if you do register you'll get links to any weeks you miss.
in pioneer practice one of the themes i explore is change. for those who see new possibilities and make new paths to make what they see happen (i call them pioneers) they almost invariably find themselves navigating change in a wider system or organisation. this is as true of pioneers in the church as it is elsewhere. in research i did with pioneers which is in the book the top answer given as to what is most likely to derail pioneering was the powers that be. and yet in my experience very little training is given on systems and culture change and how to navigate those powers. we do some in leadership at cms but i think we could do more. there is actually quite a bit written in this area around organisations which are somewhat different and there are definitely insights to be gleaned though not everything translates - this piece in anvil is excellent by way of example. i have been reading quite a lot in this area recently as it seems to me that not just pioneers but a lot of leadership now at least in the church space requires this ability to navigate change, adaptability, resourcefulness, flexibility, imagination, awareness of systems and culture change and so on. and yet leaders are largely trained to lead worship, teach, do pastoral care and so forth.
all that is to say i was delighted to read a blog post by tina hodgett on enabling culture change in a diocese in the church of england towards a pioneering culture. her blog has a series of 16 suggestions and the gold is further developed in the attached paper which you can download at the bottom of the article. whether dioceses have the appetite for this i am less sure but i hope some might! anyway it's definitely worth a read and trying to provoke a conversation about if you are involved in a diocese. tina worked in diocesan structures in bath and wells diocese so it comes from her own experience and learned wisdom.
huge congratulations to cms pioneers who graduated yesterday. it was wonderful to be able to celebrate with a mix of on site and online (the new hybrid normal). two also became lay pioneers in the church of england admitted by bishop guli of chelmsford. every year since we started graduations we have given students a tile made by artist iain cotton. there are now eight iterations of it which is fun - it has a life as a project that continues... the tiles always mark a pioneer journey on a landscape - making a way where there is no way. this year's has a boat crossing a sea and the jounrey is graced with a touch of gold. iain has done such a great job with these and this year's is just beautiful. if you want one come and study a course with us at cms pioneer mission leadership training!!!
after last years gather event online we have decided to gather in person this year making the most of the double bank holiday first weekend in june courtesy of the queen. it's in a beautiful location and that time of year the weather should be great for camping and hanging out. we have worked out we can make it work for about £100 a head which we hope is doable. it's family friendly too.