Today we began the Pilgrimage Experience at St Thomas Philadelphia and St Thomas Crookes parishes in Sheffield. By we I mean nearly 75 people from Australia, Finland, Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom. By pilgrimage I mean an immersion process – an opportunity not merely gather information but to live among those who are called to ministry here. To enable this kind of process, there is at least one St Thomas parishes staff for every two of us pilgrims.
We who have come here with Church Doctor Ministries have been immersed in the culture and ethos of these missional churches since Friday – staying with families here, sharing life with them, and participating in several events Sunday.
Mike Breen, former vicar of St Thomas Crookes, founding vicar of St Thomas Philadelphia (born from St Thomas Crookes to reach into the city of Sheffield), and now resourcing missional congregations around the world began our day by grounding us in the truth of God’s covenantal relationship with the world and our call to be representatives of God’s Kingdom. Excellent Bible study in both the Old Testament and the Gospels breathed new life into these familiar images for me.
We spent a good bit of the day exploring how invitation into covenant with God and challenge to representing/incarnating God’s reign shape a missional life, and a missional church. We also began looking at a tremendous teaching tool for shaping disciples of Jesus called Lifeshapes. Using simple shapes like a circle, a semi-circle, a triangle, a square, and a pentagon, we can continually discover what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. I will be praying about how we might begin to employ LifeShapes in our context at Olivet.
Following each day of Pilgrimage, we Church Doctor folk head to one of the most familiar places in British daily life – the pub (pronounced poob). There the 20 of us have about 90 minutes to talk with one another about what we are hearing and how we might apply it. Monday evening was left open for us, so Chad, Becky, and I made our way by foot to the Tiffen’s house, where Pam and Doug had dinner ready for us. We enjoyed fish pie, peas, carrots, and dessert.
After dinner, they suggested we take a walk in the woods to see an English moor covered with heather, and possibly locate a geocache. Because the sun doesn’t set until 10 PM we had time, but oh my, was it an adventure. The moor was easy enough to find – the park is built around this tall, flattened expanse covered with evergreen heather. The cache simply eluded us. I don’t know what went wrong – but the trails never got us closer than 80 feet. That we all managed to get back to the car with little more than a few scrapes and bits of heather covering us was a miracle! Thanks be to God+
The sun sets at 10ish, and the sky begins to show morning light at about 4:15 AM right now, which makes for short nights. But sleep comes easy after a full day like this.
Thanks for following this blog…perhaps I’ll have some more pictures for you tomorrow.
May you live in God’s amazing grace+