Following December’s news that the diocese was successful in its bid for a £1.6m award from the Church of England Commissioners to deliver an innovative project to create nine new pioneer posts across Somerset, a group of nine lay and ordained individuals from across the diocese will be meeting for the first time tomorrow (21 February) to review the first proposal for a pioneer post.
The Pioneer Deployment Panel has been convened to help in the discernment process for the Pioneer Project. The Panel brings together one of our bishops, one lay parish representative, one lay pioneer, two vicars (one ordained pioneer and one from a Magnificat parish) and our three archdeacons working alongside the diocesan strategic programme manager.
The diocese has set aside the £1.6M funding from the national church and £1.5M from its own reserves in order to establish the nine new paid, five-year pioneer posts which will act as catalysts for pioneering activity across Somerset.
The Panel will sit to consider proposals for each post. It has oversight over the process of selection and gives approval to proposals that are judged to be in line with the aims and objectives of the project. The first proposal for a pioneer in the new housing area on the outskirts of Taunton is being considered on Wednesday.
The Panel has formal governance responsibility delegated to it by Bishop’s Council but the process of determining where each new post will be based is take more of a story form. As Tina Hodgett who is leading the Pioneer Project explains, “It needs church people on the ground to listen to the Holy Spirit, identify a ‘pioneer-shaped hole’ where the church is struggling to engage with particular communities or sub-cultures, and engage in discussion with other churches and partner organisations locally about what kind of commission a pioneer might take up.”
Once ideas have begun to form, it’s time to share them with a PCC or the Deanery Mission and Pastoral Group to gain wider approval and find out if there are other proposals in your area or priorities that are more urgent. If there is a prayerful consensus around a particular idea and a sense it is God’s initiative bringing this to the church’s attention, it is time to contact Revd Tina Hodgett, Tina will join the conversation to build understanding of pioneer work, advise you of next steps, and if appropriate, help you prepare the ground to submit a proposal to the panel.
The Pioneer Project is a key part of the Diocese of Bath and Wells’ strategy and its vision to live and tell the story of Jesus within our communities. Look out for the latest developments on the website, Connect and across our social media channels.