Derwent Oak

Ordained Pioneer Minister Beth Honey tells how she, and her husband Ben, are helping to 'grow oak trees' through their ministry in Derby.

Derwent Oak is growing out of an initiative of the Diocese of Derby to re-engage the community across two parishes on a large housing estate. The Derwent Ward is to the north-east of Derby and has a different make up to the South of the city; in general it's a monochrome, sprawling, post-war estate which is home to about 22,000 people. It's sort of split into three or four areas because of the way the roads run through the place; and it can be seen to be very different to live 'up the hill' or 'down the hill'.

Before we came for interview, we looked at the statistics which highlighted Derwent as a deprived area but, when you live here, you discover it hasn't got significant issues with violent crime; it's private deprivation, such as not eating enough or not eating well, or accepting that life cannot improve. There had been two previous attempts to plant here in a very 'worship first' way, Derby City Mission were aware of the needs too but the para-church work in this area had come to a natural end.

The diocese, alongside the Mission, began to wonder, what do we do here next? So, after several years of praying and planning, the concept of pioneer ministry – being explored in other areas of the diocese – was developed for this area. I am licensed to the council ward and encouraged to consult with the parishes, and this is an ongoing process of understanding each other and developing our different roles.

Derwent Oak - balloons

I would say this area is at least 80% unchurched; yes, there may be a few Christians out there to find and there is a kind of heritage of Catholicism but that's about it. This is an exciting place to begin discipleship; without any expectations of church attendance. This role did not have to be filled by an ordained minister, but I have found it a benefit as the sacramental expression of the gospel has already found a place.

The pioneer ministry started in a relational way, with me and my husband Ben working to get to know our neighbours and listen to anyone who wanted to talk to us about the area – whether those people were from churches, the public sector or individuals stopping us in the street.

There's not a lot of overt community life, it's almost like a tribal network; people look after their own people but it doesn't tend to go much wider than that. Once you get to know a few individuals it really helps, but I reckon it takes an average of 10 encounters with someone here before you get to anything like a conversation and then 25 conversations before they'll come into your house.

Being out and about is vital as lots of life in Derwent is conducted out on the street so we got a dog, and it was brilliant to see the kind of 'God things' that happened as a result. Billy looks like a greyhound on steroids but he's actually a lurcher/Staffordshire bull terrier cross so he has got quite a lot of street cred because of his quite 'tough' appearance. When we first took him out for walks, people would say things like, 'Would you look at the muscle tone on that?!' The irony is that he wouldn't hurt a fly, but Billy's unconventional looks have certainly sparked many a chat we wouldn't otherwise have had. There are a number of neighbours we now count as friends through these haphazard conversations. We really believe that discipleship starts from these first meetings.

Derwent Oak - dog

Our house is next door to a church but the useful thing for me is that I'm not the vicar; we are here as residents and I think that's enabled us to go to new people in a slightly different way. Mind you, I still get asked, 'Are you a vicar or something then?'

I explain it as, 'You know how some nurses work in hospitals and some are in the community? Well, I'm like a vicar who works in the community.'

Fresh expressions language wouldn't fly with the local people here, and so we speak about getting together, throwing parties, having dinner. There are other more formal things we could do – in schools and such like, and we have done a few things but generally we've thought we don't want to spread ourselves too thinly and only organise events or pop in for an assembly here and there.

We have learned that people really do want to gather and celebrate, and most of all want to serve as well as be served. Our community began to emerge after about six months of being here and we have grown into a small group, a team who hold the vision and those who support it; some of us are used to church, some of us are not.

We have discovered that the community is real and welcoming. In our ongoing listening, we have also begun to hear some themes. There is a significant distance from institutions in this area, and what we suspected to be true has become evident on the ground; namely that this cannot be about another project for Derwent, but needs to grow out of Derwent. We also need to avoid being in a hurry. Relationships, rather than structures, will be the heart of anything that grows here, and they simply take time to develop.

As a result of this prayer, we decided to call what we are doing Derwent Oak, after Isaiah 61.4 – 'God will plant oaks of righteousness to display his splendour out of places of mourning and poverty'. We believe that God will not use us to transform Derwent, but that he will, in his grace, use us to help plant the oaks that will. Oak trees are proud, solid, grand, and last a long time… and take a long time to establish!

Derwent Oak - gathering

Twelve months into the first beginnings of this shared life and experiment, we are growing as a community, and have a monthly rhythm of prayer, eating together and planning, as well as seasonal routines emerging. We see possibilities for the future in our partnerships with other charitable and public sector organisations in the area, and we are always looking out for those who start with relationships.

We are based in two Anglican parishes that are fully supportive of community engagement, St Philip's, Chaddesden, and St Mark's Derby. I work under a Bishop's Mission Order, with a five year licence which I am a year into, but I would say, looking ahead, it's a 10-year thing.

For accountability and support, I see the Fresh Expressions Officer for the Diocese, Michael Mitton, once a month and I also see the Archdeacon every term too. Mike is the visitor to three further full-time Pioneer Ministers who are licensed to BMOs in the Diocese. They are Mark Broomhead at The Order of the Black Sheep in Chesterfield; Dave Battison at The Bridge, Matlock, and Captain Tim Rourke of the Church Army who is working to grow a pioneering community for local people living on estates in the southern part of Chesterfield. A lot of people have heard of The Order of the Black Sheep and it's because of Mark Broomhead's hard work in both parish settings, and through fresh expressions, that the Diocese has trusted him – to the extent that this expansion in pioneering work has been possible.

We have experimented with some wider gatherings as we've got to know more people and we are learning that sharing food, working together, asking for help (this is vital in an area where so much help is offered), and relaxing and enjoying ourselves – as much as planning – are the best ways to invite others into making things happen in Derwent. We are also discovering that we don't have to try to bring Jesus into the conversation; he just seems to appear there.

Deeper Network Church

Andy Poultney is minister-in-charge of Deeper Network Church, based in what was a restaurant on Romford High Street.

Deeper Network Church originated as 'Deeper' six years ago at St James', Collier Row, with St John's, Havering-Atte-Bower. Deeper, a fresh expression of church, came together as I began serving as curate with a bunch of young adults; my plan was simply to see what God was doing and join in with it.

Following much discussion and prayer, we decided that we wanted to focus on other young adults in the pub and club culture of central Romford. Night-time economy is important here; about 10,000 to 12,000 people descend on the local pubs and clubs every weekend.

We had great support from the community of St James' and St John's and the result was that we launched The Deeper Lounge as a safe space, in Romford's market place, on Friday nights. It started in December 2009 and it has continued to run most weeks; we have served many hundreds of cups of tea and coffee since then and – more importantly – met some great people and had some great chats.

Deeper Network Church - caféWorking alongside Street Pastors, we set up under one of the market stalls and operated from there. After a while, the local authority recognised that we were providing a valuable service and wanted to help us a little more so they bought us a large, pop-up gazebo. It was about a year ago that we moved to a prime spot and now we regularly see about 100 people a night.

I'm part of The Order of Mission and, using missional community 'language', I was – by this stage – beginning to think about what was to happen next because the end of my curacy was on the horizon. The Friday nights were going well and there was also a youth project called DIY (Deeply Impacting Youth) which was engaging with about 60-70 young people.

There was a very strong sense that if we moved away, the work was not yet strong enough to be led by anybody else, and in 2012 we felt God was calling us to become a permanent presence in central Romford rather than just dipping in and out.

In April 2013, ten of us were released from St James' and St John's in order to establish a new worshipping community known as Deeper Network Church. Our office base, and home to lots of what we do now, is called The Deeper Lounge and it's on the high street in Romford.

Deeper Network Church - caféIt's owned by the London Borough of Havering and we rent it from them. It used to be an Afro-Caribbean restaurant but the building has been gutted at a cost of £50,000. It's always incredible to see what God can do, time and time again I've been in the building while work has been going on and as people walk past, one in five will stop and ask what is going on. It offers a natural opportunity to get into conversations with all sorts of people. We applied to the Mission Opportunities Fund to cover our salary costs but money is tight and we are living by faith beyond 2014.

The Diocese of Chelmsford granted us a Bishop's Mission Order and this has been important in how we, and others, view the work. When talking about The Deeper Lounge I like to say, 'this is not a youth centre, it's not a community centre, I want to start calling it home – to us that home is a church'. It's a venue and the idea is that we will continue to do a lot of outward focused work and to engage with mission with different community groups.

We have got a reception area, a coffee shop-sized space, a small kitchen, an office and a prayer room. The plan after Easter is to do a bit of everything in this space, including activities for young people, homeless people and parents. Deeper Network Church will develop for all these different people groups.

Part of my previous role was to act as youth adviser to the bishop but I am now stopping that work as my wife and I will be moving into a community house because I'm becoming Young Vocations Champion for the diocese. This will involve mentoring interns and four guys will live with us and take on placements.

Deeper Network Church - mealBasically, everything that we do begins with service. When we're out under the gazebo speaking to young people late at night at Friday, we'll say, 'would you like a free tea or coffee?' Generally the third or fourth question people ask is, 'why are you doing this?' You tell them and we get varying responses: from complete disbelief to 'oh, that's cute' or similar.

Everything we do is to move on conversations and relationships from 'Oh cute' to our vision of deepening life together as disciples of Jesus Christ. That can be a real challenge but there's nothing else I'd rather do.

The Point Church

Jules Middleton, Pastoral Assistant at The Point Church, Burgess Hill, tells how it is re-evaluating its role as a fresh expression.

We are at a very interesting stage in the life of The Point because we have been looking again at our vision for the church and really seeking God as to what we do and how we do it.

The church started in 2004 when our vicar, Will Kemp, and his family moved from London and a group of people started meeting in their home. The then Bishop of Horsham, Lindsay Urwin, offered great encouragement and support at a time when the Church of England was really starting to think quite seriously about church planting and 'fresh expressions'.

Bishop Lindsay initially also helped to guide our thinking about the BMO process. This was finalised about 18months ago but it certainly took a lot of time and effort to get it right! It's a five-year Bishop's Mission Order but, if all goes well, we would expect it to be automatically renewed at the end of that period.

The Point - crossIn the early days of The Point, it was very much 'café church' and low key in its style, focusing mainly on families and young children. What happened over the years was that a lot of what we were seen to be doing focused on a Sunday morning gathering with modern, contemporary worship. The result was as more and more people came, we struggled to maintain our original vision to reach the unchurched, and the majority of those we were reaching were 'de-churched' and some transferring from other churches.

It was time for us to review what had gone before and look ahead to something new by asking 'what have we got now?' and 'what are we going to do next?'. To do this, we went through a twelve month vision process in 2012/13 which included a whole church questionnaire, a prayer week and input from members of the church.

I also started ministry training in September 2013 at the South East Institute of Theological Education (SEITE) and this, in conjunction with the vision process, has really fed into my role as Pastoral Assistant at The Point, particularly in the area of exploring how we can be more intentionally missional in our approach.

As part of finding more ways to reach people who wouldn't set foot across the threshold of the church, we now run 'Church in a Pub' which meets every quarter at The Woolpack in Burgess Hill.

The Point - pubIt started in July last year at the invitation of the landlord who was really keen for The Woolpack to be seen as a community pub. We had over 50 people come to that first session. It's all very informal and we have a Church in a Pub team to coordinate the interviews or testimonies, songs from a small worship band and a thought for the day. It's early days but response has been very positive so far and we're looking at whether it could go into different places or roll out to other pubs in the area.

One of our existing projects is 'The Sanctuary'. It's much more than a parent and toddlers group, it's a place where a mum with pre-school kids can come and be 'pampered' a little. They can relax, have a chat, maybe have a hand massage, that type of thing – and a few dads enjoy coming along too!

The Sanctuary meets on Monday mornings in term-time at Hurstpierpoint Village Centre and it aims to be a really welcoming place to build friendships and community in that area. We are really excited about something growing from that, for those who might want to explore faith issues because people would find it a very big leap to go from The Sanctuary into what we would recognise as a church setting. There are some really interesting conversations going on at the moment about how that might happen and we look forward to seeing it become a reality.

The Point - treeAll in all, it feels like a very exciting time at The Point because we have regained our focus as to what and who we're doing it for! We want to be a transforming presence throughout mid Sussex and part of that involves pioneering authentic communities of Christians to reach out to those around them. We've been thinking a lot about context in recent months and being relevant to that context is vital – though it does throw up some challenges.

The vision process helped many of us to realise that we needed to be doing something different for the Kingdom but we reach about 300 people in the Sunday morning gathering at St Paul's Catholic College, Burgess Hill, and we have to ask if we will alienate many of those by taking a new direction? How do we release something new? How do we remain true to what God wants of us and help others to catch that vision too?

They're not easy questions to answer and much of it will only become clearer as time goes by. For now, we are looking to God to help us in this fresh expression as we reimagine what it means to be church in today's world.


city:base – along with St Thomas' Philadelphia and King's Centre – form Network Church Sheffield. Matt Broughton tells how city:base became a Bishop's Mission Order.

Network Church Sheffield is one church in three different local bases across the city; reflecting its diverse Anglican, Baptist and House Church heritage. It was just over three years ago that city:base got off the ground when Toby Bassford of St Thomas' Philadelphia was given the go-ahead to experiment with new ways of doing mission.

He called a team together and put in place some vision and values for a community passionate about prayer and passionate about mission. In following those two callings, the community was to see where God was on the move, always with a view to be pioneering as possible in our mission – particularly to the urban poor, students and young adults.

For the next 18 months, when there were then about 20 members, city:base met in people's homes. As numbers grew, we then started renting function rooms. Without a permanent home, it was a real defining season for us – a sort of a nomadic time – which served to make clear what we were about. It made us realise that we had to go through the hard times to seek what God was really equipping and calling us for. We experienced quite a lot of growth, not in terms of people being saved, but through a lot of people growing together. We had reached about 60 by then.

Steven Croft signs the BMOIn January 2012 we finally moved into our own building – a house in one of the streets immediately behind the cathedral. It is thought of as a mission base; a place for training, discipleship, prayer and mission. We also bring the whole community together once a month in a celebration gathering. These gatherings are important but we see the primary place of church in cluster, household-sized Simple Churches of 10 to 20 people.

For the gatherings we use the Tulip Lounge, a venue just two doors down from us where we have a really good relationship with the staff. It was there that we had a small celebration in June when Bishop Steven Croft signed the Bishop's Mission Order for city:base.

We had a real sense of unity because our gathering place is a stone's throw from Sheffield Cathedral, less than 100m away. We're not just in their parish; we're right on their patch! That's why it was so special to have members of the cathedral team there, just to affirm it. It felt really significant for us as a team to put a marker in the sand and get the institutional backing of a BMO.

We have quite a large team, mainly lay. The two church leaders are Toby who is doing his ordination training at the moment, and Diane who has just been priested. We also have a paid manager who makes sure everything runs smoothly in gatherings though the role has more to do with the life of the mission base rather than a purely administrative function.

There's another 10 to 12 people who devote varying amounts of time to different tasks. I lead our internship scheme and I devote a day a week to it. Others do coaching and mentoring, pastoral care, student work or helping to build a house of prayer.

city:base has a foundation of a volunteer culture, one in which quite a large team of people each has its own area of responsibility or oversight. In essence we want to be involved in one another's lives and the way the base functions is just part of this. We try to act more like an extended family than an institution with staff and volunteers.

base prayer teamWe have about 100 people connected with city:base, my guess is that all of them are either young adults or young families between the ages of 18 and 40. We ask everyone to look at what they are doing to encourage the life of City Base and their own Simple Church.

We are aware that we don't want to do something that's insular and exclusive; instead we want to create something that's really reflective of our experience of Jesus and the authenticity of that experience.

I suppose we are quite hard to get to know and connect with because we are only meeting once a month. What is slightly different from the classic fresh expressions approach – namely that fresh expressions are for people who don't normally come to church – is that our gatherings are very churchy in style but we see the primary place of 'belonging' as Simple Church.

In terms of accountability, we are still very much part of our sending church and Paul Maconochie – as a leader of Network Church Sheffield – is still our overall leader here. Also, a good percentage of our leadership team is part of The Order of Mission (a global, dispersed community of pioneering leaders called to lead and influence within whatever context and culture they live and work) so that's another level of accountability.

baseI think this balance we are trying to strike between the 'centre' and the 'edge' is an interesting one; we have our gathering once a month and Simple Church throughout the week to encourage the life of these simple missional churches to grow the life of our prayer and mission base at the centre.

I'm keen that we don't just become another 'big church with flashing lights', it's the relationship between these two sides of the continuum that move us forward.

The Plant Church

The Plant Church, Park Langley, is a mission initiative of the Diocese of Rochester and was granted a Bishop's Mission Order in 2009. After the original minister moved on, David Rue was appointed its new pastor-teacher in September 2011.

The Plant Church started five years ago as a church plant from Christ Church, Bromley. We meet on Sunday mornings in the function room of the Park Langley Tennis Club and currently have about 30 regulars. Our aim as a church is to make Jesus known in Park Langley. This is a huge challenge and keeps us depending upon God's Word and on prayer to build up the body so that we can win the lost to Christ.

Plant Church - groupOur most active channel of outreach over the last five years has been our Wednesday morning mums and toddlers group, known as Sparklers. Through this group we've seen one person become a Christian, and many have heard the gospel and now have weekly contact with Christians.

In an attempt to make Sundays more accessible for families from the local community, we have held a number of all age services and have been encouraged to see new people popping in each week. We have just finished a Christianity Explored course, and are now seeking to faithfully follow up the three people who attended.

Plant Church - barSunday mornings, midweek bible study groups and prayer meetings continue to be encouraging times. In particular, there has been a growing number coming to our prayer meeting and an encouraging spirit of prayer. A recent move to smaller bible study groups has helped the congregation to deepen bonds of fellowship and has increased opportunities to serve one another through prayer, bible study and hospitality. We have also been spurred on in our evangelism by Simon Manchester's resource, Six Steps to Talking About Jesus.

Our challenge in Park Langley is to keep the great commission of Matthew 28 at the heart of everything we do. This reminds us that we are to be disciples making disciples. To this end our message has been to preach Christ, our prayer: that the Father will raise up harvesters and our confidence: that Jesus will build his church.

Unlimited Church

James Grier explains how the Unlimited youth church begins to be seen in a new light as it becomes a BMO.

I was first appointed by the Diocese of Exeter to pioneer a youth church in the city and advise and encourage other expressions of youth church. Unlimited, which looks to reach young people who have no experience of church at all, tends to reach Sixth Form students – predominantly from Exeter College. It has been a far harder and slower task than I ever envisaged but I have been in post for four-and-a-half years now and it finally feels like we've made some headway.

Unlimited - tablesWe were clear from the start that we were not looking for any sort of transfer growth from other youth work in the city or even to reach non-Christian youth with existing church connections. The missional focus was, and is, unchurched youth – though ultimately we are also looking to include people of all ages.

Early in 2009 we started going out on the cathedral green where most Sixth Formers seem to spend their time, get into conversation with them and say, 'We are starting a church. What do you think about church and God?' Prayer is a very important component of what we do and our aim is to offer to pray for everyone we talk to. We ask whether we can pray for them and ask God to tell us about them. We estimate that about 9 out of 10 young people allow us to do this. Anything we sense might be from God is offered lightly and tentatively so that we are not putting anything on people unhelpfully or claiming we get infallible revelation! Nearly all whom we pray for are shocked by the accuracy of God's revelation. It means that the young people know what we're about from the outset; it may have limited the speed of growth of the fresh expression but – on the other hand – we build on relationship and that develops a strong foundation.

Unlimited - archesTwo years ago we began renting an office at the back of Mary Arches church in the city centre to use as a café base. That's where we also have a worship service three Sundays a month now. We had decided that we would only start doing worship when we saw someone come to faith; now we have got two people who have been baptised and two further people also become Christians. Our worship time must be the world's most casual and informal because our aim is always to reach young people that don't do church. It's a 60-minute service, half of which involves eating toasted sandwiches! After that we have a video clip, some songs, an activity, prayer and response.

Unlimited - dotsOur mission statement is 'Unlimited Church – young people encountering the God they've never met and living the difference' but ultimately we need to be church of all ages if we are to be genuinely church rather than some sort of monochrome Christian group. The young people need older people in their lives if we are into discipleship and not just conversion.

In everything we do as a church, we aim to be:

  • unlimited by church culture and tradition – where it is unhelpful, unnecessary or inappropriate;
  • unlimited in our openness to and love of people – treating them as unique and as God's made them to be;
  • unlimited in our faith and expectation of God – living by faith not inhibited by past experience or fears.

Unlimited - baptismSoon we hope to have the freedom of being a Bishop's Mission Order with the continued aim of converting the young people to Christian culture, not church culture. Lots of churches say they want a youth church but what they really mean is a youth congregation. The BMO evolved when our new converts wanted to be baptised. I asked the Bishop, 'How does that work ecclesiastically?' He suggested becoming a BMO which was wonderful – other churches in the area had initially been rather suspicious of our motives; many were also fearful that we would whisk their young people away. They didn't know if we'd parachute in and then disappear without trace as some sort of parachurch organisation or an outreach. The BMO changes that because it establishes the formal structures needed for right leadership and accountability.

Unlimited - chairsUp until now I have been serving as half time team vicar in five parishes as well as spearheading Unlimited. However, from the middle of December I will be going full time in this pioneering role. My prayer is that Unlimited becomes a viable church of people of all ages which exists to reach and disciple youth who've never really had anything to do with church before.

The main challenge has been to develop a team; some started out with us but have moved away or got stuck into established churches. Thankfully others are now coming through. In future, I'd love to see more radical conversions. We have prayed for 400 young people on the streets since we started but we don't see the fruit of that all the time. I don't want to become possessive but it would be great to see more of them. We'd love to see a turning of the tide as more and more young people in Exeter discover God for themselves and are changed by him and the city changed as a result!


Licensed as Pioneer Minister in Priorslee, Telford, Tim Carter outlines the launch of this Bishop's Mission Order in the Diocese of Lichfield.

Priorslee - village greenThere has been a lot of development around Telford in recent years. To the northeast of the town an area of around 1,800 houses have been built over the last 20 years. There is still land earmarked for development within this area with space for another approx. 500 houses. Within the area there are two primary schools, two small rows of shops, two doctor's surgeries and two pubs. The area shares a name with the original village of Priorslee, but there seems to be little feeling of it being continuous with it in any real sense.

The result is an affluent commuter area with many of the residents working in Wolverhampton and Birmingham because most of these houses are within a few minutes drive of the M54 junction.

This area has been identified as a mission priority over the last 5-10 years and various things tried along the way but then a strategic decision was taken to recruit someone to come and live on the estate and plant a church.

This BMO, the first in the diocese, is slightly unusual in that it doesn't cross any parish boundaries but the legislation is seen here as releasing the Pioneer Minister from expectations of involvement in inherited parochial ministry.

Priorslee - housesThe aim of the BMO is for a church to grow in this area, with the shape of that church (gathered or network or something else to be discerned) but the achievement of that aim feels like quite a long way away. The BMO mechanism allowed the diocese to create some space in order to explore that.

I am employed by the Diocesan Board of Finance, which provides administrative support and a governance framework in these early days of the ministry. My licence allows me to operate freely within a geographical area defined by the BMO and by invitation anywhere in the Diocese. The BMO is time limited with a review period and the licence is linked to the BMO so is valid as long as the BMO is in place.

Priorslee - roundaboutI am linked to what are known as two 'supporting' churches in the wider area – All Saints, Wellington and St Andrew's, Shifnal. We are still exploring exactly what that means though currently they are providing a place for my family to worship and be part of and be sustained by whilst, and until, the plant is able to sustain us. They are also providing some prayer support. This strategy has been implemented with the aim of guarding against the sense of isolation experienced by so many pioneers.

Priorslee - schoolI was licensed on September 6 and diocesan officers worked hard to get us into the house, purchased by the diocese on the estate, in time for my children to get into the local school for the start of term. We still need to work out how we get involved in this community and the school, for instance, is very open to us.

We're at very early stages and at the moment it's all about talking to people and having neighbours around for endless cups of tea!

York Community Chaplaincy

York Community Chaplaincy (YCC) operates in the York Diocese as a Bishop's Mission Order. Leader Chris Cullwick details how its work has grown.

Building on the development of chaplaincy in various sectors across the city and the success of recent projects such as Street Angels, the Community Chaplaincy seeks new opportunities for chaplaincy service and trains and supports volunteers into a variety of chaplaincy roles.

YCC officially started in June 2010 as a three year project though I have been personally involved in chaplaincy here under the title of York Workplace Chaplaincy for several years before that. A previous Bishop of Selby, Humphrey Taylor, had originally set up workplace chaplaincy as an independent and ecumenical charity, representing all the denominations in the city and its range of chaplaincy services.

York Community Chaplaincy - treeAmong the many organisations and businesses using these services were the Chamber of Commerce and York City Football Club. That model worked pretty well until about five years ago because the partners benefiting from the chaplaincy were contributing to the charity so there wasn't too much of a worry about fundraising. Those partners included City of York Council, Nestle (which contributed £34,000 pa), Terrys and Norwich Union which provided us with an office space. However, over the course of time and with changes in management, funding support diminished.

Two of us had been employed full-time but then my colleague was made redundant. It was time to think again because the workplace chaplaincy provision under the old arrangements ended in January last year. The Diocese was keen to address the need and opportunity and, on considering various options, saw a Bishop's Mission Order as the best way to move things on. The BMO, from June 2010 for three years, was a new initiative to not only support existing chaplaincies in the city but also to develop new opportunities with new resources, in particular by identifying suitable volunteers.

York Community Chaplaincy - castleI now help to recruit, train and support a growing number of those volunteers into chaplaincy positions. Under the umbrella of York Community Chaplaincy we now have a team of about 10 volunteers doing a variety of things. I'm also employed part-time by York St John. I have worked alongside the University's Theology and Ministry Department and very much hope to develop the chaplaincy strand as training for general use.

Looking at general trends, we can see that more and more vacancies for chaplaincy welcome applications not only from ordained ministers but also from suitably qualified lay people. We are providing opportunity for those who have not come through the route of ordination.

It's easy with pioneer ministry and fresh expressions to overlook what the church has been doing for hundreds of years in the form of chaplaincy. The fact is that chaplaincy has become a very, very flexible term. As far as I'm concerned, it's all about being where people are with a focus on service and I think that's why many are getting excited about it.

York Community Chaplaincy - towerI have organised a number of days to help people explore chaplaincy, one chap who came is now heading up the retail chaplaincy in York which regularly visits over 100 city centre businesses.

The BMO is very helpful because it gives YCC a sense of support and respectability from the diocese in taking this kind of initiative across parish boundaries and drawing in volunteers from different kinds of churches. We hope it will enable YCC to continue its life beyond my present appointment and direct involvement.

Others recognise the BMO as a cross city initiative which doesn't have to tiptoe around parish boundaries. We are now at a pretty critical stage and quite a lot needs to happen because chaplaincy is a huge opportunity and a tremendous way to harness a lot of volunteer engagement with our churches and community; going out to meet people where they are.

St Peter’s in the Pub

This is an exciting time for St Peter's in the Pub, Lincoln. It has been commissioned as a distinct congregation by St Peter in Eastgate Church and from October it will start to meet weekly instead of once a month. Its leader, Revd Nick Alexander, explains more.

St Peter's in the Pub - serving

St Peter's in the Pub started in October 2008 to serve a new, growing community in the Carlton Estate and Bunker's Hill area of Lincoln where, previously, there was no church or church building. St Peter in Eastgate Church had been looking at how best to reach that new community and St Peter's in the Pub was the result of several years of research, community engagement, and listening to local people.

Much of what we did took shape after I attended a mission shaped ministry course in the city. As a result, we organised events, carried out a community survey and started a café church service.

With the help of a consultant recommended by the msm team, our PCC matched the survey's findings with what we had to offer at St Peter in Eastgate. This led to the launch of a parent and toddler group at the estate's Lincolnshire Poacher pub which proved to be very popular. We later ran an Alpha Course on the back of our first Craft Creations evening, also at the Poacher.

St Peter's in the Pub - singingThe initiative is generally reaching folk who are 'coming back to church' after a while away but we are also seeing a small number of completely unchurched people coming to faith as well.

Almost three years ago, we started St Peter's in the Pub on the first Sunday of the month and we now regularly welcome over 65 adults and about 15 children. The idea has always been to keep everything simple, starting off with coffee and croissants at 10am and having a crèche for pre-schoolers as well as activities for older children during the service.

We run lots of other regular activities as well. These include our weekly parent and toddler group Family Hour which runs on Wednesdays in term time and a similar event once a month on a Saturday morning called Family Time. We have strong links with a local sheltered housing scheme and run Songs of Praise & Tea there once a month. We also have a number of weekday fellowship groups.

St Peter's in the Pub - sumoIn the summer we hold an outdoor community event. This year it took the form of an Inflatables Day at the Carlton Boulevard sports ground. We had Sumo suits, bungee run, inflatable boxing ring, gladiator duel and a bouncy castle alongside a free BBQ – the event attracted over 500 people. As well as providing a great community event for the Carlton area, the aim was to publicise a Christian youth event called 'The Bank' at the Lincoln City football ground. We also hosted two special Christians in Sport evenings at Yarborough Leisure Centre and hundreds of flyers were given out.

We were granted a Bishop's Mission Order in February of this year. This has expanded the geographical area that we are licensed by the Diocese to work in and provides us with even greater opportunities to share the Gospel with others.

Our continued vision at St Peter's in the Pub is to see the emergence of a Christian community welcoming and serving the people of the Carlton Estate and Bunker's Hill areas. We are looking to achieve this through a range of community-building activities, evangelistic events, Bible study, fellowship and our times together at the Lincolnshire Poacher.

St Peter's in the Pub - menuFrom October we will begin meeting every week with a whole-church joint celebration at Eastgate at the end of every month. We will also have the opportunity to come together once a month for an evening Praise & Prayer meeting.

Earlier this year the vicar of St Peter in Eastgate, Revd Edward Bowes-Smith, set out the Church Council's 'Vision for Mission' for St Peter's. The idea centres on being one church family (St Peter's) with a variety of different congregations – including St Peter's in the Pub – each with their own worship styles and mission priorities.

The new arrangements began with the commissioning of St Peter's in the Pub on 18th September 2011 and the first whole-church celebration on 25th September 2011 was a Confirmation Service. The fact remains that wherever we are and however many times we meet, what we value remains the same, namely Worship, Word, Witness, Welcome and Work.


GLO - launch

GLO Church in Offerton, near Stockport, was awarded a Bishop's Mission Order earlier this year – the first BMO in the Diocese of Chester. Its licensed lay workers Gareth and Lizzy Robinson give an update on how it's getting on.

The consultation process to become a BMO had been going on for over a year. In March, the Bishop of Stockport, Rt Revd Robert Atwell, issued the Order on behalf of the Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster and he commissioned a team of eight to work with us. GLO (God Loves Offerton) is a mission project from All Saints' Marple, and our team will reinforce the ministry in two large housing estates as we look to establish a Christian community there.

GLO - shirtsGLO's commissioning service took place at All Saints and it was great to see it publicly welcomed by vicar Ian Parkinson; Alan Bell, Rural Dean of Stockport; Mrs Lois Haslam, lay chair of Stockport Deanery Synod – as well as a local police inspector and a community worker.

The Bishop of Stockport said that we need to encourage mission partnerships across traditional Anglican boundaries of parishes and deaneries. It is all credit to him for really getting the whole thing off the ground because he saw that something needed to happen and made the decision to go for it.

Our focus is to the east of Offerton where the two housing estates have completely separate cultures and identities – in many ways. One estate is made up of some social and some private housing and the other comprises privately owned housing stock; there isn't even a road to link them together.

GLO - cakesWe meet for worship on a Sunday afternoon in a local primary school but GLO Church is offering lots of different sorts of opportunities to be involved in it and build community as a result. One such opportunity is The Young Mums Way – a group for Offerton mums under 21 years old. It runs every Wednesday afternoon during term time at a local Children's Centre.

We also provide New Life Packs, including nappies, wipes and babygrows, as our way of saying welcome to the world for newborns. The Garage is developing into our freecycle project, a place where unwanted but useful things can find a home until someone needs them. The idea is that if you need something and we have it, you're welcome to it. We hope to make it useful for anyone and everyone.

GLO - signIn August we organised a Serve Week so that we could serve the community of Offerton through things like car washing, gardening, litter picking and sorting The Garage. We feel very privileged to be working alongside the police and the council; they are extremely supportive of GLO. We were invited as 'stakeholders' in Offerton to be part of a meeting with all of the interested agencies to look at the Urban Priority Area plan. I was amazed to see that all of the Plan's aims could clearly be seen as signs of God's Kingdom. It was also amazing to know that we arrived just as the local authority started to draw in the community's 'leaders' to change the face of this area and improve it as a place to live. They know that we at GLO are an extremely motivated volunteer force and that has to be a good thing! We've had the opportunity to pray and talk with council workers; I would never have expected that.

GLO - groupAnother very positive step forward has been the approval of our application for charitable status. We have also had planning permission granted for a coffee shop; the idea being to establish GLO Coffee as a place in the heart of Offerton for people to gather as community, train for employment, provide internet access for homework clubs and more. We're just waiting to see what's going to happen with the extremely run down precinct where the coffee shop would be. There are all sorts of discussions going on as to its future and we want to be wise as to the right thing to do next.

From the start we have been blessed with a fantastic team. A number of people, with very different gifts and skills, had previously been in touch with All Saints' to say they felt called to be part of something similar to The Message Trust's Eden network but wanted to serve the wider community rather than focusing solely on young people. As a result, we had a team on hand from the offset; people who come from the area – or moved into it – all of whom want to be part of this new thing of God.

GLO - zorbing

As far as we are concerned we are doing Kingdom work. If people become Christians as a result of it, I don't mind where they go to church because if it's with us, great, if it's with another church that will disciple them, that's great too.

All I want to do is make sure that anyone who responds to the Gospel through us has the opportunity to become part of a discipling community. What I'm concerned about is that we are faithful to honour Christ in our worship and all we do but our time of worship in itself is not going to be primarily missional at all. You can't disciple somebody solely in public worship.