At a recent Partnership for Missional Church event, we met Eileen Fletcher and Steve Lewis from Woosehill Commmunity Church. Here, they share what the PMC journey has been like for them personally.
“Go and ask about it! Go and ask about it!”
EILEEN: Someone had been talking about Partnership for Missional Church (PMC) during the church service. I’d only been been half-listening. But as the service ended, a strong impression seemed to come upon me: “Go and ask about it! Go and ask about it!”
I knew I needed to know more about PMC. My query resulted in an invitation to the next PMC meeting.
STEVE: Woosehill Church started its PMC journey in September 2015. Initially all went well, ably led by our minister Paddy and Gavin, the then steering team leader. Unfortunately, as we started Year Two of PMC, Paddy left and owing to a change in his work commitments Gavin was unable to provide the required input as the steering team leader.
At this point we started to flounder, unsure what to do and struggling to make any progress.
EILEEN: I had questions – such as “Where is God in all this?” – and a lot more. Steve Lewis, the PMC leader, patiently answered my bombardment of questions. Eventually I got my head round it all.
What struck me most was the fact that PMC is about looking to see where God is at work in our community and joining with him in the work. That was what attracted me and drew me in.
You see, 40 years ago, God intervened powerfully in my life to bring me to know that there is a God – and not a distant God but one who can break into human lives and share his heart with them. So the primary concept of PMC totally resonated with me.
In fact, I absolutely loved the idea of being involved in a process of seeking to know where God wants us to join in with His work in the community.
STEVE: By February 2016 I had taken over as steering team leader and our new minister, Patrick [Mukholi, a former CMS mission partner in Oxford] had arrived, but he was still getting to know his new church and understand what PMC was all about. The Missional Innovation Team [formed to coordinate the church’s ‘experiments in mission’ in the second year of PMC] was in crisis – unable to recruit members or make any progress, so I agreed to attend one of their meetings to see if I could help.
That’s where I met Eileen, who like me was on the margins of church life and took quite some persuading to join the PMC team. But now she is the driving force in getting our outreach activities up and running.
EILEEN: Our ‘brief’ was to reach out to isolated and lonely people. So, after much prayer and discussion, we set up three groups, Sing Something Simple, Wool With A Mission, and Woosehill Watercolour Group.
The most exciting and fulfilling aspect of my involvement in PMC has been watching God at work in answer to the prayers that the church has been praying.
He has inspired and provided for the groups, led people to us, and blessed the work of PMC.
STEVE: Eileen provides me with much needed support and reassurance as I carry out my steering team leader duties, acting as my conscience, questioning me, challenging me, correcting me! Both of us have moved from the edge to the centre of church life.
EILEEN: Prior to becoming involved with PMC, my husband, Ian, and I had been at Woosehill Church for about eight years. However, my job as a travel photographer meant that I was out of the UK a lot of the time. So I’d never really had the time to become terribly involved in the church, or to develop strong relationships. It was not long after I’d given up the travel photography that PMC came to my notice.
For me, one of the most satisfying aspects of PMC has been the deepening of my relationships within the church. Woosehill Church is a lovely, gentle church. We have been so happy there. But now I find that relationships have moved onto a different level; deeper friendships; a sense that these people really are ‘family’.
But what I love most of all about PMC is that, when God ‘shows up’ in answer to prayer, people get excited. I’m reminded of the saying “God is most glorified when we are most delighted in him.” I believe that PMC is a God-glorifying process and, for me, that is more important than anything else.
But a very close second is the joy of seeing lonely people, with tears in their eyes, talk about how much it means to them to be able come to the groups. Sometimes they haven’t spoken to a soul for days; so being able to spend time in supportive company is a very important to them. That gives me an awful lot of satisfaction.