Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Pioneer Mission in Kensington and Chelsea

Sr Clare Maxwell gives us an update on her half time calling to work in Pioneer Mission

The pioneer ministry I am developing now has a name 'Lambs Way Ministry' based on this passage of scripture: 'Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom' (Luke 12:32).

Lambs Way Ministry operates in the hope of allowing people to discover and go on their own journey with God including, if appropriate, the discovery of God.

Over the last few months I have been out and about around Chelsea, chatting to people, forming connections and researching informally and more formally through statistics in what direction the Pioneer Ministry that is 'Lamb's Way Ministry' should focus its attention.

Just before Easter I had explained over the preaching or leading worship, to the Fetter Lane Congregation, exactly what I understood Pioneer Ministry to be and where I foresee my Pioneer Ministry going in Chelsea. Although the commission to Pioneer Ministry is separate to my ministry at Fetter Lane, the sharing of information is important, particularly as some members are now looking to be involved in developing the Pioneer Ministry once the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted.

Currently four of us are due to meet after Covid-19 Lockdown. Creating a team around this project was and is important for the longevity and sustainability of the project and also, because it is about recognising that the person commissioned as a Pioneer cannot do everything and because God is in the gathering of two or three.
I want to explain where I understand Lamb's Way Ministry is placed on the model that is called the Pioneer Spectrum.

'Lamb's Way Ministry' currently resides as a Pioneer innovator: 'Pioneer venture into the edges of postmodern culture, exploring spirituality alongside fellow seekers and nomads'. We are currently working through an art-based ministry.

As you may now be working out, Pioneering covers a broad spectrum and what is challenging is that the Pioneer Ministry that I am working on is less about 'numbers of people' success' but more focused on the value of journeying. The challenges are that we are all naturally inclined to look first at numbers to denote whether anything is successful, whereas this side of the Pioneer Ministry undoubtedly values the depth of engagement. The quality of a conversation for instance is a marker of success verses ten people attending this time. I think this is a counter-cultural but very Biblical based value, however it doesn't make it easier to understand. We grow up in a culture that values 'bums on seats' first and that includes most churches.

Lambs Way Ministry has now found its life very focused on Art. This decision has come from various places. We have had several artists approach Fetter Lane because of its acre of space (Green space is rare in Chelsea). Sharon (the graveyard space) itself has a history of artists which continues today. Furthermore, I, and others in conversations, agree that art is possibly the only thing that will link the community who experience a large wealth divide. On our street of King's Road, we have a social housing estate on one side and million-pound houses on the other. Art has the ability to cross cultures and be accessible no matter your wealth or status or indeed ability to speak English (we reside in a very multi-lingual area).

What is most significant with art from a theological perspective is that there is no 'correct interpretation of art'. This is true for literature too but as you can imagine this is harder for people to grasp. Art has less restrictions verses literature and this is important if we are to curate honest, authentic seeking. Thus, the Pioneer Ministry is now focused on art.
We were due to have an exhibition of art on display in Sharon beginning in Holy Week which was in collaboration with Chelsea Methodist Church but this has now been postponed. This was to launch one of three art installations this year (the other two were going to be run independently by us) on different Christian themes. We hope we still may be able to do them in some form if not, eventually, the intended form.

Instead we have had to go online (details at the end of this article) and have already had one successful online series for 'Passionweek' with people curating conversations and reflections which is wonderful to see. Beginning on 27th March we launched a new series called 'Christ in Covid' which was made up of various artist's interpretations of the brief. Our audience online is wider than Chelsea but we hope once this time has passed to really focus back on our Chelsea grassroots. The aim is always to Pioneer in context. Our online side will not stop but it will be secondary for 'Lambs Way Ministry'.

I think the most important aspect of a Pioneer Ministry is to spend time listening. Even in amidst the doing. It is about listening out for God's voice. This time cannot be overlooked and so prayer walking and prayer time is vital for this ministry. If you feel inclined, please do add us to your prayer list over the next few months. Lambs Way Ministry hope to be able to share some of the Good News of the Kingdom very soon with those in Chelsea once more.

claire maxwellSr Claire Maxwell

Minister at Fetter Lane Congregation

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