Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Learn Local in Community Mission

Back in October, as part of AngelWings Ltd and with the generosity of the Synod of Otago Southland, I ran Learn Local as a mission learning opportunity. One of the participants, Lisa Wells, has written up some of her learnings, for her church newsletter and also for the Southern Presbytery newsletter.

For those who don’t get either newsletter, here with Lisa’s permission is her response to Learn Local. It includes her reflections on some of her visual attending (taking photographs) from the Learn Local experience ……….

Learn Local in Community Mission

Back in October, which seems so long ago now, I was one of the curious people who attended “Learn Local”, which is a new event, funded by the Synod of Otago and Southland, seeking to explore community mission through local story telling.

Led by Rev Dr Steve Taylor (former Principal of KCML and daring missiologist) and members of two local faith communities, the course involved a day spent in two communities and four weekly teaching and reflection on-line sessions.

It was a rainy South Dunedin day as we met with the people involved in “The Seedling”, a place-based mission experiment in South D, which is discovering different ways to be in community, be church and care for each other and the neighbourhood. The plan for the day was that course participants walked the streets of South D as Seedling members unrolled the story of how they came to be and how they discerned where God was already working and inviting them to join in. This approach is consistent with the idea of Missio Dei (God in the World). It is not about designing programmes and hoping people will come. In fact, it’s not about programmes at all. It is both contemplative and active. Walking, using all our senses, is not only a grounding thing to do, but it slows us down and helps us notice things we would usually hurry past.

Like most things related to community mission, plans had to be put aside and our physical walk became a virtual thing as we “walked” from one stage of the Seedling journey to another. And still it poured!

It cleared up after lunch and we were in North Dunedin, the University area specifically. We met at the café Student Soul uses for its weekly services. We heard how it had changed over the years and the amazing plans for the future, utilising Web 3 technology for teaching, discipling and pastoral care. We were invited to go out and listen and discover what Student Soul’s mission context was. These are some photos I took and how I wondered about them as a reflection of a student’s journey.

ignatian attending

I’ll tell you more about the on-line teaching someday, but I want to jump to the end! Each of us committed to walking in our own neighbourhood (both a spiritual discipline and a means of discernment) and sharing our discovering with the group. As we did this the seed of an idea took root in my mind.
What if … others might be interested in this too?
What if … it wasn’t about walking, but wandering and wondering?
What if … we looked at the small signs of God’s work?

For me taking photos of details and patterns is a way to keep my mind on what’s in front of me.)
Then … what would our story be? Is this a story God is opening up?

So now my curiosity and desire to be a learner has led me to more questions. Who would be interested in “wandering and wondering”? Can taking photos be a way to share God’s presence and creation?

Finding God in all things is at the core of Ignatian Spirituality and is rooted in our growing awareness that God can found in everyone, in every place and in everything. When we learn to pay more attention to God, we become more thankful and reverent, and through this we become more devoted to God, more deeply in love with our Creator.

So, I’m wondering … are there others who would like to see where this might lead?

Lisa Wells
(with Lisa’s permission)

Posted by steve at 07:40 AM

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