Monday, May 28, 2012

Pentecost gifts: pioneering and Graham Cray

Graham Cray, Archbishops’ Missioner and Team Leader of Fresh is currently in Australia, speaking at Clergy Conferences in Adelaide and Canberra/Goulburn. He rang on Saturday and it was great to be able to connect with him for a quiet wine yesterday. (No photo this time :)) Of course, Sunday was also Pentecost and it seemed so appropriate to be talking mission, pioneering and future church on this day of Spirit celebration. Four things have stayed with me.

First, the God of fun and surprise. It was Graham’s wry conclusion as he noted that there are now over 1000 Fresh expressions among Anglican churches in England. And that latest results just coming in from the Methodists in the UK indicate that when you add in the numbers attending Fresh expressions, they have grown as a denomination.

Second, the ratios. During the conversation Graham noted that there are now around 130 Ordained pioneers being trained in the UK. Coming home, I did the math. Adelaide has about a 1 million people, while UK has around 50 million. Comparative numbers would have us here in South Australia, having training 2-3 ordained pioneers. I thought with gladness of current candidates and recent graduates at Uniting College including Titus, Sarah, Karen, Amel, Peter Riggs and Mandy. It made me glad of what God is doing among us in South Australia. Yet with 6 it is still hard to generate a sense of community and cohesion. As I thought about ratio’s, I began to wonder if it will be sensible for every State, and every Denomination in Australia, to be training their own pioneers? Or do we need a few co-operative ventures among Colleges? And even, heaven forbid! among States?

Third, the sheer intentionality of the change project. As we talked about training of lay pioneers, selection processes for ordination, supervision structures, networking of Diocesian leadership teams in mission learning networks, it was a reminder that this is a whole church reformation. Such is the pioneering Spirit of Pentecost, birthing and re-birthing the church.

Four, the phrase leaders in mission. The UK expects all of their clergy in training to develop their ability to be leaders in mission. All clergy, not just pioneers. A nice re-focusing for me, as I think about the task of being Principal at Uniting College come 1 July, and the call to train leaders for a healthy, missional church.

Thanks Graham and thanks Spirit for Pentecost gifts.

Posted by steve at 01:10 PM


  1. Do you have any details on the Clergy Conference in Canberra/Goulburn Graham is speaking at?


    Comment by Rob! — May 28, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

  2. Rob!,

    I think it’s gone – it happened last week.


    Comment by steve — May 28, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

  3. good stuff, but the labelling of Fresh Expressions and Pioneer Ministers, is frustrating to those of us that do both but are seen as being confined within the traditional church.

    Comment by sally — May 28, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

  4. I hear you Sally although from what little I know of you, I don’t any one word could fully capture you and your role and charism 🙂


    Comment by steve — May 28, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

  5. Thanks Steve encouraging stuff. Personally I think its a scandal that there are so many different collages competing for space. Surely as Uniting people in Christ we should be getting together to form and teach as best we can

    Comment by Geoff — May 29, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

  6. Geoff, I have always assumed it simply a refection of the federated make up of Australia. The States are simply echoed in the Synod structures,


    Comment by steve — May 30, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

  7. And it would be such a hard ask for a candidate to sense a call to Canberra 🙂 And then how would they do “ministry practice” in context?


    Comment by steve — May 30, 2012 @ 9:34 pm

  8. As someone who has moved states, I’m very aware of the parochial nature of the Aussie culture and its still a scandal as far as I’m concerned. As for sensing a call to Canberra.? If there is never any cross synod exposure in our formation and learning then being exposed to what God might be calling you to is unlikely. My limited experience in presbyteries is that a large % of ministers have hardly moved out of “their” presbytery let alone “feeling” called to other locations or contexts. Sure it has challenges for ministry practice and the practical nature of operating in a such a large country, but maybe it enables better local context reflection when formation and learning is exposed to other contexts.

    Comment by Geoff — June 2, 2012 @ 9:52 am

  9. Thanks Geoff. we are working here in South Australia toward indigenous experiences as part of our candidate formation, along with a potential overseas learning experience as a way of trying to get folk out of their context. It seems such an important part of formation,


    Comment by steve — June 4, 2012 @ 10:27 pm

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