[CMS] The Church Mission Society’s Pioneer Mission Leadership Training programme has experienced a further growth in numbers with an eclectic mix of missionaries graduating this week. The graduation ceremony took place at CMS House in Oxford, with 24 students receiving Durham University awards, signifying the completion of their studies in theology, ministry and mission. The pioneers included some being ordained into the Church of England as Deacons or admitted to the order of Lay Pioneers.
The Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Andrew Proud, officiated and said: “Pioneer leaders have an exciting, pivotal role to play in helping us communicate the love of God to an often confused, hurting and divided world. The growth of the CMS Pioneer Mission Leadership Training programme shows how many people are choosing a pioneer route to ordination and stands as real testament to the quality of CMS’s training programme.”
The Pioneer Mission Leadership programme, which was first established in 2010, is a creative way of equipping and mobilising Christians for ground-breaking, transformational and sustainable mission. Jonny Baker, director of mission education at CMS, explained how the programme has been designed to provide a diverse approach to training pioneers: “The course gives pioneers, who often display ‘the gift of not fitting in’ a supportive learning community – a place to belong, as well as equipping and empowering them to initiate and follow through with mission projects that have a wider impact on the church and society.”
Janice Hamilton, who graduated with a Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission, is currently involved in a community regeneration project in Gloucestershire, to re-model and refurbish a disused youth club that organisers hope will draw the local community together and provide access to local services and expertise.
Pioneer Libby Hawkness-Smith lives in Oxfordshire and heads up ‘Journey On’ a community for people with learning difficulties such as autism and anxiety. Libby said: “Like so much of society the church can be unintentionally patronising for people with autism, but a lot of people want to be challenged, they just need someone to help them build up to a challenge.”
Claire Elwood, another Theology, Ministry and Mission Diploma graduate, is involved in ‘Tea and Toast’ an outreach initiative to students in Nottingham’s city centre. Every Friday night after the nightclubs have shut, the team offers revellers hot drinks, friendship and support to those in distress, and if the situation allows it, they take the opportunity to share their faith.
The Church of England has recognised that pioneers are vital for the future of the church and Church Mission Society’s Pioneer Mission Leadership Training programme provides a designated pathway for ordination as an ordained pioneer minister (OPM) – alongside the more traditional routes for teachers and pastors.
Throughout the training programme, students complete a range of modules including mission in contemporary society, cross cultural engagement, leadership, pastoral care and entrepreneurship in mission. Students are encouraged to enlist the support of a mentor, and to supplement what they learn in the classroom by attending an annual retreat, starting additional projects and visiting existing pioneer community projects.
Jonny Baker concluded: “Mission pioneers are giving the church a glimpse of the future, where mission will not be delivered solely by large para-church organisations, but increasingly through agile, innovative and creative pioneers, witnessing love in action.”
To read more about the CMS’s Pioneer Mission Leadership Training programme click here