We welcome Rachel Spence and Nicky Pybus who have become pioneers for Whiteway in Bath and Bournville, Weston super Mare. The appointments are part of the diocese’s progressive Pioneer Project which aims to create nine new pioneer posts by 2020; with the aim of developing a culture of pioneering and innovation across our communities.
Rachel and Nicky have both responded to a call to join in with God’s mission to Magnificat parishes. Magnificat parishes are those ranked in the lowest 10% by socio-economic indicators in the Diocese, and the name reflects Mary’s song of praise to the God who overturns the tables of inequality. Whiteway and Bournville are estates with their own community and spiritual identity, and both pioneers look forward to being among the local people and understanding their context.
Tina Hodgett, Evangelism and Pioneer Team Leader said, ‘I’m really pleased we can invest some extra resource in these areas which are often hidden and forgotten. I’m excited to find out what a church that truly reflects the culture of the local community might look like in practice’
Rachel is a Baptist minister. She has relocated to Whiteway, an area on the south side of Bath, from Worcester where she has been leading a small Baptist church. Rachel describes herself as a life long community worker; linking wherever she has lived with church, and she has done that for various denominations in lots of different ways.
“I’ve moved around a bit and moved around denominations a bit, and I am really happy to bring all of that together. When I saw this post I looked through it and thought, ‘this is brilliant, this pulls together all my experience.The wording on the front cover of the job advert said; ‘Living and Telling, Journeying Together, loving and serving our communities, sharing the story of Jesus’, all of those I could put a tick next to and for all of them I could say, ‘Yes, that’s what I spent my life doing.’ Rachel has moved to Somerset with her husband Ian and two sons.
Revd Dr Catherine Sourbut Groves is the vicar at St Barnabas, the host church for Rachel’s pioneer post. Revd Catherine says St Barnabas has already built strong links with the Whiteway estate, and believes it is these links which Rachel will be able to build on and develop.
“Rachel’s entire remit will be to live in Whiteway, to love the people of Whiteway, to try and discern what God is already doing on the ground, and to draw together the threads. Rachel will work with that and will see what new expressions of Christian community can grow up from the grass-roots on the Whiteway estate.”
Nicky Pybus has moved to Bournville with her husband and two children, relocating from Portsmouth where she has been working part-time as a Pioneer Minister in Cosham and Wymering.
“It is about growing something from the ground up; doing something with the community and getting really involved in growing something new. What appeals is having a blank sheet of paper and not knowing what is going to grow in that area, what’s going to work, and finding out what those opportunities are through relationships with local people; through building relationships of trust and just seeing where God is already at work in the communities and joining in with that.”
Revd Tim Erridge is the Rector of Bleadon and Bournville. “It’s an adventure really. I think what’s going to be essential is a lot of listening to people and to God. I’ve got this responsibility for enabling and supporting something which is in essence unknown. I’m saying at this stage we want our eyes to be open and we want God to help us to be awake, and to create those opportunities for conversations.”