Its a Northern thing….

The Northern Mission Centre a new collaboration between CMS and God for All the ecumenical partnership in Cumbria saw 18 students from as far as Edinburgh, Newcastle, Northumberland, Sheffield and Halifax join locals for the first weekend of The Certificate in Pioneer Mission last weekend. Starting online due to Covid it was clear that we had connected with the right people as they shared stories and we unpacked Pioneering Mission for the first module. The ministry discussed was as wide as the geography with creative schools work, artistic spiritual journaling groups, youth ministry, food banks, young adult fresh expressions to name a few. It all gave a great backdrop as we explored Jesus the pioneer, the pioneer spectrum, culture and pioneer mission. 

They say “don’t reinvent the wheel” and I was able to draw on the wisdom of other hubs as we prepared the course and I am particularly grateful to Bath and Wells and St Cedds for some of their resources which gave us time to up the creative elements for our weekend. I was amazed at how well it worked running on line due to covid. We sent out creative packs in advance for students to use as we went through the weekend including blank beer mats for them to design a Pub Church, and scratch cards for reflective spaces, and this with videos and reading in advance meant plenty of laughs, group work space and deep learning. Two highlights for me was firstly on Sunday morning when the students bought their families into the session as we adapted one of our virtual Mountain Pilgrims from lockdown as an illustration of contextual mission. It was great to see the children (and grandchildren) join in the foraging exercise as we sent them out to look for hairy bittercress and played with the exodus story. Secondly the creativity being applied to the evidence of learning. One of the tasks set is to review a missional book or listen to the Nomad podcast with Edwin Gately. Edwina shares a brilliant story of siting down for doughnuts with a group and I think I may be getting one student submitting their review on doughnuts instead of paper!  Heres hoping….

We will be starting recruitment for 2021 soon and if you want to be added to list of enquires please contact Steve at admin@cumbriachristianlearning.org.uk and we will send you more information on taster days and how to apply. 

Penrith Mission Community – lockdown babies group

Being pregnant and having a baby during lockdown has been tough. It has left new parents feeling really isolated – some even having to give birth alone & most cut off from all usual support. So when restrictions eased enough by early autumn to allow a support group to begin, we finally got the opportunity to run our second group (originally planned for spring!) The aims were the same – to gather new parents & spend time growing together as community, exploring and sharing elements of our Christian faith through multi-sensory sessions with new babies. The reality looked somewhat different – the risk assessment now stretched to seven pages and felt fairly unwelcoming! Nevertheless we felt it was still worth having a go. The group was full within twelve hours of advertising on a local Facebook community group, which confirmed to us the desperate needs of these new parents.

Armed with facemasks, plenty of cleaning equipment, mat ‘zones’, individual baskets of resources and lots of prayer, we launched into the first session … fast forward six weeks and the group have unanimously requested it continue beyond the initial sessions. (we await new guidance to see if this is still going to be physically possible) As leaders we may have noticed the restrictions (no refreshments, baby cuddles or close interactions) but the parents so appreciated what we could offer despite everything that it hasn’t deterred anyone. Some of the feedback included: ‘we love coming to this group. Your support is fantastic!’ ‘It’s been good to talk about our feelings. Love the stories & putting memories into a scrapbook.’ ‘We’ve loved coming in, learning & meeting people.’

I’m always impressed by the level of sharing, honesty & openness that soon develops within such a community. The out-workings and implications of experiencing lockdown with a newborn baby definitely unite a group at a deep level. What an amazing opportunity we have as Christians to listen and approach this with our faith perspective. Thanks to all who have supported this venture in prayer, to those who made a venue available & safe, to those who knitted toys as a gift to each child during the last session – your support is much appreciated.

Love Chenda & Sarah