Pioneering Parishes provides tools to help parishes become more outward looking, enabling parish priests to extend the care of souls to people into all the parish.
Founded on the belief that pioneering is integral to parish life, the webinar courses enable churches to shift energy out into the parish.
Pioneering Parishes began in the first COVID lockdown through the work of Rev Greg Bakker, pioneer development officer of the Diocese of Portsmouth and Rev Tina Hodgett, then of the Diocese of Bath and Wells.
The initiative started as a response to the pandemic from the head of ministry and mission at the Diocese of Portsmouth: he tasked Greg with providing a course of some kind enabling church leadership teams to catch the wave of change. Working with Tina, they devised a four-week webinar series called Looking Ahead.
The webinars facilitated a space where church leaders and leadership teams could acquire and share postures, practices, tools, models, skills and stories – and find the courage in community – to nurture the conditions for moving congregations outwards into cross-cultural pioneering mission among people who are not like them, and to manage the shift of balance from an inherited mode to a mixed ecology of church.
Attendees were surveyed after each webinar and as a result the webinar series content was reviewed and revised. After the second series, which attracted staff from various dioceses, more in depth analysis took place to find out why it was creating such a level of positivity. One of the participants, a well-respected parish priest of 25 years, said he hadn’t been trained to lead a church in times like this and found the webinars gave him skills and postures he was missing.
Since then, Pioneering Parishes has grown organically with the involvement and interest of a number of collaborators. It is currently provided in partnership with the Church Mission Society and with funding from Church of England Innovation Fund.
Pioneering Parishes has now been repeated six times and around 400 people (lay, ordained, in a variety of roles) have participated.
Meet the creators of Pioneering Parishes
Rev Tina Hodgett
Tina is a pioneer, teacher, speaker and leader with a reputation for inspiring hope and drawing whole congregations into a kind of mission ‘with a twinkle in its eye’. She co-authored the pioneer spectrum and birthed the Pioneer Project in the Diocese of Bath and Wells.
Rev Greg Bakker
Greg is pioneer development officer for the Diocese of Portsmouth. As an experienced parish priest of 30 years and thought leader in the skill of advocating for pioneers, he is committed to creating space for both pioneers and parish churches to thrive in the work of developing new Christian communities.