Ordained pioneer ministry in Rochester - update Jun09

Monday, 1 June, 2009

Rob Ryan, 'pioneer curate' in Rochester, and Michael Volland, leader of feig in Gloucester, tell us how they are building Christian community from a cathedral base.

Duration: 3:42   | Download Download mp3


Introducer: And perhaps that ancient faith is nowhere more obvious than in our cathedrals. But things are changing there too as a number of them appoint ordained pioneer ministers. Their job is to form new congregations from those who normally never join the cathedral community. Rob Ryan is just such a pioneer.

Rob Ryan: I've got a great position here at Rochester Cathedral at the moment. I have this grand title of pioneer curate based at Rochester Cathedral, which basically means although I'm rooted here in the cathedral community, my job is to be outside the cathedral as much as possible, link in with people wherever they may be, wherever I may find them.

Introducer: And across in Gloucester, Michael Volland has been forming a new congregation based at the cathedral, but he's found that gathering people to explore faith together is not an easy task.

Michael Volland: One constant for me was the life at the cathedral. God puts you in a situation, you just begin where you are. And outside of that I began to put myself around in the city, meet people of no faith, start to talk to them about where they're at – I mean this is just people, I'd see them a few times around, Gloucester's a small place. Before long, within a year, there was a kind of merry band of people beginning to gather, and we had got some Christians who were prepared to come together in a small team. It was all orthodox and above board but we're experimenting, saying what does church look like if there's just ten of us and we meet in a house, but I'm connected to the cathedral.

Introducer: Like Michael Volland, Rob believes that pioneering mission of this sort has to be done slowly and steadily.

Rob Ryan: When I first started there was a lot of unsureness if you like about what I was going to do, how I was going to spend my time, so I needed to develop a routine for myself. And I started each day in the cathedral with eight o'clock in the morning, morning prayer, from common worship, and then I would just wander around the Rochester High Street area, praying as I was going, really asking God to point out to me those places where he wanted me to hang out, those places where he wanted to have a presence I guess. And as I was wandering around as well, a prayer that I'd started to develop was Lord, lead me to people of peace. And by that I mean people that are interested, people that want to spend time, people that wanted to talk about stuff – not just necessarily God – but just wanted to talk. So the ministry is developing by me going and being a presence in those places.

Introducer: And this intention to share faith with those not normally on the cathedral radar has the backing of Nick Berry, Dean of Gloucester.

Nick Berry: I think that the gospel stands up brilliantly well when people really take it seriously, and that's what I hope our pioneer ministers can do because they can take people seriously and therefore they will begin to take what they're talking about seriously.

Rob Ryan: With fresh expressions in particular there's been this tendency that we need to throw out or we need to develop stuff that's new. Something I'm finding being based at a place like Rochester which has been here for 1,400 years there's been a Christian presence here, something I'm discovering from that is actually it's not necessarily about reinventing, it's about reframing the old and the ancient in a way that people can relate to. Because people come here and they're really touched by God, but they need our help in expressing that and they need our help in discovering more of the depth of that I think.

Introducer: Rob Ryan ending that report. And you can find out more about his work at Rochester Cathedral, and about feig in Gloucester, by going to the podcast page of the Fresh Expressions website, that's freshexpressions.org.uk.

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