Training to be an ordained pioneer minister

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Are you called to be a pioneer?

Pioneers are called to work on and beyond the edges of the church.

Often they are be involved in the community working beyond the boundaries of the established church to forming new contextual worshipping communities or ‘fresh expression’ churches – contextual and missional churches which take a variety of shapes and forms – with groups of people who might otherwise not engage with church.

They can pioneer from an established church pushing the boundaries of mission into the communities or cultures. They aim to create church for and with people, groups and networks who have no contact with any existing church in order to enable people to engage with God where they are.

Pioneer ministers can be lay or ordained and they are an integral part of the mixed ecology church.

Becoming an Ordained Pioneer Minister (OPM)

Becoming an Ordained Pioneer Minister (OPM)

The process for becoming a Pioneer Ordinand in the Church of England is exactly the same as for the standard ordination track (see Apply), except that in addition to your Stage 1 and 2 Assessments, you are also required to attend a separate Pioneer Assessment Panel which will help to discern your pioneering potential.

At Ridley we work carefully with these ordinands, helping them to deepen their sense of call to grow or plant churches, or establish new communities or other ventures with those who are not yet disciples. Our Pioneer Track and equips them spiritually and practically for this crucial task.

Non-designated ordained pioneering ministers

Non-designated ordained pioneering ministers

We are also committed to working with ordinands who don’t have an official ‘pioneer’ designation but who expect to serve God in pioneering contexts, doing new things in new ways. With the active support of their sending bishop and DDO, ordinands without an official pioneer designation are able to join the pioneer cohort for the weekly teaching and learning session.

Training on the Pioneer track at Ridley

Training on the Pioneer track at Ridley

Practical experience

Ordinands on the Pioneer track are encouraged and assisted to find term-time attachments and summer placements with parishes and churches that are already involved in pioneering work. (See Ministerial Formation for more information on parish attachments and placements.)

The Diocese of Ely has a strong commitment to pioneering, and we have close relationships with churches and individuals involved in pioneering in this and other dioceses, at national level in the Church of England, and in Fresh Expressions.

Theological reflection and learning

College-based pioneer training is focused on a weekly session which combines academic rigour with theological reflection on practical experience gained during parish attachments and placements.

The pioneer syllabus includes subject areas such as entrepreneurship, pioneering identity, starting and developing a pioneering venture, contextual mission, inhabiting the mixed ecology, church planting, improvising the tradition in changing contexts, leadership, and the theology of fresh expressions, ecclesiology and missiology.

We also explore disciplines and practices from Christian tradition that may nurture the spiritual life of the pioneer, and engage with learning on the subject of innovation and imagination that emerges in other areas of human activity. All of this is grounded in the spirituality and practice of the Anglican tradition, enabling them to understand and engage with the breadth that is found in a mixed ecology church.

Student perspectives

Dave Monck, pioneer ordinand, writes:

"One of the most valuable dynamics of the Pioneer Emmaus course has been the space to engage with the history, tradition and legislation of the Church of England alongside a creative and missional approach to church. As a group of pioneers, there was often easy agreement in the missional priorities for the church. By engaging in these areas with all ordinands, we were able to have rich discussions from a variety of viewpoints that helped pioneers recognise their roots in tradition, and traditionalists explore creative approaches to church that still upheld the traditions."

Matt Ralph reflects on the pioneer training sessions he joined as a non-pioneer ordinand:

The material covered in Pioneer Emmaus is excellent. I am grateful to have discussed canon law, the nature of the Eucharist, the 39 Articles and other aspects of Anglican identity; I think the discussions we're able to have in the sessions, with their mix of pioneer and inherited ordinands, will be very useful, whether I inhabit "inherited" roles in the future or "pioneering" ones.

It seems particularly important to me that ordinands going to inherited roles get some grounding in these issues, as there is not much coverage of canon law/Anglican communion formularies elsewhere, and as the strategy (in my Diocese at least) is to move towards ministry teams, where traditional churches and fresh expressions are expected to collaborate effectively.

Further information

For more information about the Pioneer track at Ridley Hall, please contact our Tutor for Pioneering, the Revd Andrew Dunlop.

Revd Andrew Dunlop

Tutor for Pioneering

01223 741074

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