New Christian Communities Development Lead

31st March 2022

Mandy and Richard Priestley have become the New Christian Communities Development Lead in the diocese.  Their new joint role will be to nurture the growing community of pioneers in Bath and Wells and encourage the parish churches to pioneer and grow fresh expressions of church (New Christian Communities) as well as encouraging and modelling a creative and innovative approach to mission, helping to make it part of the culture of the diocese. 
Richard says, ‘I am excited about the new role because its very existence speaks of the diocesan commitment to find those new ways of church and appropriately stepping into the future. We’ve been doing those new things in our ministry for a long time, but to have the diocese say, “this is one of our key values, this is one of our priorities” is saying the diocese takes it seriously.’
Bath and Wells Pioneer Project was launched in 2017 with three principal aims: To create nine paid pioneer posts within the diocese, to equip and train grass roots pioneers (lay, unpaid pioneers) and to establish a culture of pioneering across the diocese. The first of the nine ‘Signpost Pioneers’ was appointed in 2018 and the ninth in late 2020. They are based in a variety of contexts around the diocese with a brief to pioneer with a particular community and to inspire other pioneers in their area or deanery. In addition, 25 people have received the CMS Certificate in Pioneer Mission across two cohorts in the last three years.
In their new role as the New Christian Communities Development Lead Mandy and Richard will be the principal contact for pioneering within the diocese. Mandy says she is really looking forward to, ‘encouraging people in the parishes. I’m looking forward to enabling them to see what they are doing, because a community can be as lovely as a Mother and Toddler Group, it’s serving the community, it’s a place of safety, it can grow, it can become a place of discipleship. 
‘For me the really exciting bit will be encouraging people where they are doing things and resourcing them when they have an idea and they’re not quite sure how to go forward. Just coming alongside and seeing their context with their eyes, but also encouraging them to see what they’re doing; a fresh pair of eyes might be able to say, and there’s this and I can see you’ve got these sorts of gifts.’
Richard and Mandy will be working with the churches of the diocese, and with deanery leadership teams, to help them consider, and engage with the idea of mixed ecology and encourage them to take practical action.  They will also work with Charlie Peer, Head of Mission Support and Ministry Development and the wider leadership of the diocese, to help develop strategies that encourage and enable the growth of new worshipping communities.