[CMS] On Tuesday (14 October) 120 pioneers met at the Church Mission Society in Oxford for their second annual conversations day on pioneering.
This year the focus was on mission spirituality. The contributors represented a wide range of theological perspectives and included Catholic contextual theologian from Chicago Steve Bevans, Ordained Pioneer Minister in Portishead, Tina Hodgett, and author and poet, Michael Mitton.
The day began with Steve Bevans outlining spirituality as “a reservoir from which a person or a community can draw to motivate action, to keep on track, to bolster commitment and to avoid discouragement when times get rough.”
He suggested a number of ways in which this could be done which included identifying specific passages of scripture that might guide and inform one’s missionary endeavours, drawing inspiration from missionary heroes and heroines, becoming aware of the cultural assets and liabilities brought to pioneering in mission and developing spiritual practices that sustain.
There were workshops on St Francis of Assisi as a new monastic pioneer, how to nurture an active spirituality and exploring metaphor as a means of shaping community.
After lunch, Tina Hodgett used her experience of working with pregnant women to talk about a spirituality of birth and how this demonstrates major life changes are opportunities to engage people afresh with big questions of faith.
More workshops followed on reconciling being and doing, how the Eucharist can be used to rediscover and reimagine community and the gift African spirituality is to the individualistic and rationalistic West, led by Harvey Kwiyani of Missio Africanus.
Michael Mitton ended the sessions with an exposition of 1 Peter 3:18-19 and a picture of Christ preaching good news in Hades. He talked of pioneers needing to confront the shadows in their own souls, as Jesus did in the temptations, in order to take love and hope to the dark places of our world.
The conference concluded with worship and the performance of a poem that had been especially written from words submitted by attendees by Martin Daws, the young people’s laureate for Wales. About the miracle of newness being born out of desire, vulnerability and struggle, it perfectly encapsulated the many layers of pioneering spirituality that had been uncovered throughout the day.
Jonny Baker, director of mission education for CMS, said after the event, “It was a rich and diverse exploration and celebration of spirituality that fuels and sustains mission. It was a privilege to hear the wisdom and maturity of those who have followed Christ into alien cultures, which included students on the pioneer course here at CMS.”
Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS), October 21, 2014