The UK’s newest pioneer hub this week opened the doors to receive its first intake of students, as they embark on a journey to become pioneer missionaries, living out their faith in local communities to reach those living on the margins.
Based in Romford at the Church of the Good Shepherd, the St Cedd Centre for Pioneer Mission, which takes its name from St Cedd, a 7th century missionary to the East Saxon people, will act as a focal point for locally based mission pioneers and entrepreneurs. It is a joint initiative between the Church Mission Society and Chelmsford Diocese.
At St Cedd’s, students will undergo a training programme that has been developed by Church Mission Society and the Implementation Group from St Cedd’s Centre, and is divided into six modules delivered over an 18 month period. It encompasses a variety of topics ranging from the Bible and mission theology to mission entrepreneurship and spirituality. Alongside their classroom studies, students will also work on a pioneering mission initiative of their own choice.
David Harrigan, a Pioneer Ordinand for Chelmsford Diocese, and part of the leadership team at St Cedd’s, explained how his experience of setting up local community projects could help budding pioneers. “Being involved with a project to transform a plot of wasteland so that it can produces organic food and a boxercise class where men can meet and explore spirituality, have taught me the importance of building relationships with the people you are trying to help, really getting to know them and their stories.”
The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, said that establishing St Cedd’s reflected the strategic need to shift more resources towards mission pioneers, whose focus was "the world as it could be" rather than "the church as it is". St Cedd’s aims to provide an environment that trains, facilitates and empowers pioneer missionaries across Chelmsford Diocese, helping them to follow their calling as pioneers.
The opening of the St Cedd Centre for Pioneer Mission is an integral element of Church Mission Society’s long term strategy to train and empower a new generation of pioneering missionaries. Future hubs similar to the one at St Cedd’s are being explored in other parts of the country and CMS’s pioneer mission training programme in Oxford has had a record intake for this academic year.