St Marks National Theological Centre

Blog update #3 from Beatrice Robinson recipient

Monday April 27 2015 by Katherine

Tracey Matthews - Beatrice Robinson Study Tour 2015
St Mark's student Tracey Matthews was awarded a Beatrice Robinson Scholarship to do a month-long study tour looking at various approaches to training, formation and deployment of missional leaders. Her first blog post can be read here and her second one here.   

Week 3  (ending 25 April)
I travelled from Boston to New York where I was privileged to connect with Revd Stephen Holton who is leading a new ministry called Warriors of the Dream out of St. Philips, Harlem.  Warriors reach out primarily to young people in Harlem, through dialogue, recreation, the arts and mentoring.  The goal is to provide a safe space to share dangers and dreams; to overcome violence and bring transformation to local neighborhoods.  This approach is based on the work of the Celtic Saints, who healed people in community and offered themselves as  "Soul Friends".   I observed this in action, through an open communion service in Marcus Garvey Park (Harlem), followed by the Warriors’ gathering.  We were each given a set of West African Drums to play, with guidance from the drum leader.  This reminded me of Dallas, where similar drums were played during Amani New Day worship.  As we played our drums in Harlem together, there was such a sense of God’s presence among us.  It was a moving experience and I witnessed how this act of worship was transforming a homeless man before our eyes.  Though agitated at first, he was drawn to the drums, and as he played them you could see how the spirit was healing and restoring his brokenness. As we drummed we were each invited to share our hopes for the world and our experience of the moment. There was such a sense of joy and peace among us, and it drew in a number of intrigued observers. This worship in public space was an example of an emerging trend to break down secular and sacred divides. Through both an open table and worship with drums, a homeless man found a sense of belonging and a place where he felt at home.
My next stop was London and the theme of table, belonging and place continued.  I met with Johnny Sertin who is one of the first designated Ordained Pioneer Ministers (OPM) in the Church of England. Johnny is curate at St.Andrew’s Earlsfield, staff member of the CMS Pioneer Mission Leadership Training and leads Earlsfield Friary. The CMS training course is an approved pathway for designated OPM’s and gives pioneers who often don’t ‘fit in’ a place to belong. The course aims to equip leaders for ground breaking, transformational and sustainable mission. Earlsfield Friary is an example.  This ‘fresh expression of church’ orientates around five households seeking to live out their faith in local service. The Friary does not adopt a tightly structured ‘rule of life’ but instead shares a rhythm focussed on ‘mission life, discipleship, and open community’. This is based on values of ‘mutual rhythm, mutual Christ, mutual support and mutual mission’. Daily practices are sought that give life to these values and enable faith to be lived where life happens. The Friary has initiated a number of innovative projects to engage their community and in doing so is creating new spaces of belonging for those who are seeking a home.
  I also met with social entrepreneur Shannon Hopkins of Matryoshka Haus.  This visionary and innovative group create solutions that can transform society and inspire others through collaboration and hospitality.  One example is The Truth Isnt Sexy (TTIS) campaign designed to address the demand side of human trafficking in 2007.  The TTIS campaign mobilised groups of volunteers across the UK to find out what men  really thought about the issue.  The TTIS presented its research and findings to the UK government and was able to change the current policy and create new initiatives to address demand, stating, “Girls that are trafficked do not have a choice, but men do.”  Matryoshka Haus is another way of creating a place of belonging for creatives and a home for new ideas and transformative change.  Shannon also helped develop the CMS Pioneer Training Course and delivers the Entrepreneurship module. Through this module, participants learn how to articulate their vision and goals to develop and launch sustainable mission initiatives. There is increasing demand for this module and interestingly the majority of participants are lay people. It seems there is no shortage of pioneers out there; and CMS is providing a place of belonging where dreams can be turned into reality.  Some food for thought there!