“Pioneers enjoy being the first to see something, or to do something new – we are explorers, icebreakers, innovators and visionaries for the Church.” Tina Hodgett, Evangelism Team Leader
Pioneers are people who go to new places to live and tell the story of Jesus in creative, informal ways. They go specifically to places where there is no obvious Christian witness or community, and start where people are at by listening, serving , and loving. Over time Christian community forms through this work, and through the prayer and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Just as with people of every kind of vocation, pioneers come in different shapes and sizes and with different calls and characters. Each pioneer has specific gifts and character traits to do the kind of pioneer work to which they are called. The official definition of a pioneer in the Church of England is:
‘people called by God who are the first to see and creatively respond to the Holy Spirit’s initiative. They identify opportunities and gather others around them as they seek to establish new Christian communities within their local context.’
But giving pioneering an ‘official definition’ seems limiting, and limited is something pioneers certainly are not! Better to hear from our Pioneers in their own words…..
What kind of work are Pioneers in Bath and Wells involved in?
- One ordained pioneer went with a team to help Locking Castle Church grow, and this church is now working ecumenically with other churches and lay pioneers to build community and grow contextual churches on the new local housing estates in Weston-super-Mare
- A lay pioneer is working as a chaplain at Bath City College finding ways such as pop-up prayer stations to engage with students on the campus
- A pioneer ordinand is exploring sustainable food and food poverty themes running a Café Church, weekly Food Share event with Tesco, and Parable Garden (community allotment) in Ilminster
- A pioneer team vicar is developing a campfire network in rural churches around Wellington to combat rural isolation, grow faith through the creative arts and provide contextual church for families
- Lay pioneers in a number of places are working in the community to build relationships and partnerships with people where they are, and gather people into contextual forms of church and social enterprises working for the common good