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Issue Thirty One

From the Church of England Diocese of Bath and Wells

Spring 2018

Church for our time?


• Jonny Baker imagines the church of the future • Fresh Expressions explained and explored • Dr Colin Greene on theology, culture and imagination

Read Reflect Pass On


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Encouraging confident Christian communities in Bath and Wells hurch attendance is falling!’ is a familiar headline, but in this issue of Manna we look beyond the headlines and explore how the church is responding to our changing culture in exciting and creative new ways. Jonny Baker, who leads Church Mission Society pioneer training, is energised by the creative possibilities and he is not alone, as you will find out in our feature ‘On the pioneering path’, where we hear from people from our diocese who, in various ways, are doing church differently. We also hear from diocesan Evangelism Team Leader, Tina Hodgett, who explains Fresh Expressions and asks, ‘what is church?’ That is a question we posed when we talked to others across the diocese and you can read their stories, in My Church is..., throughout this issue. It is a picture of church that differs greatly from the church that Dr Colin Green, who leads the MA in Theology, Imagination and Culture at Sarum College, joined in the 1960s, but is it a church for our time? Louise Willmot Editor

Image credits:

All images copyright of the author (and licensed under Creative Commons, P8: Yoga CC Flickr Matt Madd p14: North Mosaic01 Tim Evanson CC Flickr

2 Spring 2018


3 Jonny Baker: Adventure is waiting for us


4 On the pioneering path My church is... 9 Bryce Tangvald Insight 10 The beauty and richness of a ‘patchwork’ church


12 Dr Colin Greene, Sarum College, with Verity Eastwood-Dewing News in brief 16 Updates from the Diocese of Bath and Wells My church is... 17 Rob Davies Out and about 18 Happenings and news from the parishes Time out 20 Fast chariot… or left behind 21 Book reviews My church is... 22 The Revd Nigel Done

Manna editorial panel for this issue

Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton (Chair) Richard Austin, Taunton Revd Esther Smith, Bath Walcot Revd Kenneth Cross, Old Cleeve, Leighland and Treborough Andy Levitt, Go Team Adviser Louise Willmot, Editor

Get in touch

Email: manna@bathwells. ph: 01749 685145 Diocese of Bath and Wells The Old Deanery Wells Somerset BA5 2UG T: 01749 670777 Manna Magazine

Adventure is waiting for us


By Jonny Baker Director of Mission Education, Church Mission Society.


love creativity and imagination, and I am fascinated by how people come up with ideas. One really simple way is by making connections between two apparently disconnected things. James Dyson for example made a connection between the process of removing dust from a sawmill and vacuuming which led to the invention of the Dyson vacuum cleaner. Pioneering and imagining the church of the future begins with this simple connecting. What happens if I connect steam punks and Christian spirituality, metal music and the mass, Lectio Divina and card reading at New-Age fairs, a 12-step programme with discipleship, singing with people with dementia and Christian community, meeting with friends round the meal table and church, an ethical cleaning company and the gospel? And what happens if I connect all these experiments with the Church of England? Welcome to the church of the future, which is already here! All of the connections above have been made by pioneers I have been inspired by over the last few years and have started new things in mission while training with us at Church Mission Society (CMS). All of them are part of the Church of England. There are hundreds more. One of my favourite descriptions of mission is ‘an adventure of the imagination’. It comes from John Taylor reflecting on the challenge of mission in Africa in the 1960s. He suggests that if we really take Manna Magazine

Jonny Baker

“This imaginative adventure in mission is at the heart of what the church is.”

the challenge of culture seriously we should expect to see Christianity develop and grow in ways that are almost unrecognisable to the Church in the West. That is because it will grow from the inside of those African cultures with local language, rituals, theology and forms in response to the gospel. As they grow and mature they show something unique and perhaps previously unseen about what God is like. The huge realisation in the Church of England in the last 20 years has been that this imaginative adventure in mission is at the heart of what the church is – it is missionary by nature, a community of people in mission. We exist to participate with God on this adventure, to share in the overflow of God’s love for the world. Thank goodness it’s not just something that’s for sharing Christ overseas! That adventure is waiting for us in our own neighbourhoods, towns and villages. And it can begin by simply thinking what two things you can put together ■ Jonny Baker leads Church Mission Society pioneer mission training

Next steps

The Diocese of Bath and Wells is working with CMS to develop a pioneer hub in our region which will begin this autumn. Want to be a part of it? Email Spring 2018 3


On the pioneering path People across the diocese are connecting with the communities they serve in new ways.


he Revd Captain, Richard Priestley, Priest in Charge of Beacon Trinity benefice — along with his wife Mandy — has been on the pioneering path since training at the Church Army College 30 years ago. After 20 years as a Church Army evangelist, latterly in the United States, he and Mandy returned to the UK following the publication of the Mission-Shaped Church report in 2004. Richard explains, “It would have been a lot easier to start a new church plant completely separate from the inherited church, just have new people and not worry about those in a church that’s in decline, but my call was to do both. I really believed there was a sea change in the Church of England and that we were called to come back and be part of developing a mission-shaped church, so we developed a Fresh Expression in a church in Kettering and it was there that both Mandy and I were ordained as pioneer priests. We then moved to a new-build village and got involved with another Fresh Expression before moving to this diocese. “I firmly believe, more so in the rural community, there is something about the existing church and church 4 Spring 2018

Richard and his wife Mandy are both ordained as pioneer priests.

“We need to think afresh and consider what church is and what community is.”

building that is a part of the fabric of the community. But the life of the church community often doesn’t connect with that community. The world has changed so much in the last 10 years, the church needs to speak up. We need to think afresh and consider what church is and what community is.” Richard feels that all churches could benefit from a Mission-Shaped Intro Course, the six-week course that introduces people to some new ideas to help them reconnect with the communities they are called to serve and to re-imagine the forms of church that are needed for the 21st Century. Manna Magazine


“It’s not about ‘here’s a new way of doing things’, but more an introduction to change the way you think about mission, which is why we are seeing things done slightly differently. I have run the course 10 times and only once has it failed to result in a church taking steps to do something differently,” he says. Richard was speaking at ‘Space for You’, an initiative set up at All Saints, Oakhill, in a room built adjacent to the church 10 years ago. “Our church is located right next to the school so when I arrived I spoke to people locally to find out what we could do to support their community and they said we have nowhere for parents to get together. So ‘Space for You’ runs once a week for people to come to, some after they have dropped off their children, and others who just want to get together. They can catch up, the children can play and good coffee or refreshments are enjoyed through the morning, those of all faiths and none.

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Richard with Oakhill Church School headteacher, Bethan Foister.

“In order to serve young families we started 4th@4, a Messy Church, open to any family in the benefice. If a family approaches me I will invite them to that service as the majority of new people, if they turn up to a traditional service, will not come back. 4th@4 is one of the accredited Fresh Expressions because although it will never be a standalone separate parish church, there is no expectation that people will come to another service. That is their church, their community, their congregation. Some do come to other services, particularly festivals, but I want people to realise that Messy Church has equal validity as a gathering of the people of God as the 10 o’clock or 8 o’clock service. We need people to get over the hurdle that some people think those who attend Messy Church are not ‘proper’ members of church.” Richard is also trialling outdoor worship at a local working farm. He explains, “A real mix of people come along — individuals and some families. They are generally people who find a traditional church is not for them, but that doesn’t mean they are not spiritual or want to engage with God. Our role is to facilitate their journey towards God and with God. And if having the outdoor worship facilitates that then that’s a good thing. One little boy from a farming family who came along thought it was great because he could keep his wellies on. He did not have to conform ➜ Spring 2018 5


to anyone else’s expectations, he could just be himself and that’s what I want for everyone.” “I know that to grow the church for new people we need Fresh Expressions, we need new things in church, new ways. But I also know that some people who have been coming here for years and years aren’t going to want new things, and nor should they need to do things differently. So we, as a church, have to provide for the traditionalists as much as we need to do the new mission stuff for new people. I want people to know that their traditions can keep going and I will provide for their spiritual needs. That’s my role. That’s what I’m here for.” It’s an approach that, according to congregation member Sue Roberts, is working well. She says, “Richard has pushed forward very well with things. He has established good links between our three churches, and working with the school has made a big difference. For example, in the past the church fête was a small affair. Now the church, school and village come together for a fantastic village festival. That has come about thanks to Richard getting involved with the school.” Links with the local school and community has also been a strong feature of Tracey Hallett’s pioneering activities. She describes herself as a ‘passionate pioneer’, a path that began in St John’s, Tatworth, with a missional movement called StreetSpace. Tracey says, “I was blessed to work with a group of ‘un-churched’ young people. One weekend we arranged a ‘stayawake’ during which they loved exploring the church on their own terms and after that they felt they wanted to learn more about faith and the church. They wanted to make the church more cosy so we bought a gazebo, candles and beanbags, creating a safe and sacred space for them in church to begin exploring their big questions. They soon renamed themselves Gazebo 6 Spring 2018

“They loved exploring the church on their own terms and after that they felt they wanted to learn more about faith and the church.”

Tracey and helpers in the Parable Garden.

Grapes, with the gazebo as the vine and themselves as the grapes. At that moment I felt the Holy Spirit was involved and shared John 15:5 with the girls.” After Tatworth, Tracey moved to Ilminster to take on a pioneering role. She explains, “I felt the Holy Spirit call me to Ilminster and I was given the chance to try and pioneer, working very closely with families on the edge of community through engaging with schools and local families. “Our local children’s centre closed down and we saw a gap in the community. To help fill that gap we met with parents who suggested that a story time might be helpful and so we have got that up and running. We’ve helped set up a Food Share in the Community so we take leftover food from Tesco to the local café on a Saturday morning, so people who need it, can come in and take it. It stops food going into food waste and helps the community get together over food. “More recently we’ve started a community garden, called Parable Garden. A member of our church congregation was interested in setting up a gardening project with the church so we we prayed together and through

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At work planting, nuturing and distributing the food in Ilminster.

prayer we found a family in the community had a space they could let us have. Now we come together — families, children and the older generation — to turn over the soil, plant seeds, and grow fruits and vegetables. It is all about coming together as a cohesive community, talking over the soil, praying together and sharing stories, especially the parables.” But like Richard, Tracey believes that we should not forget the church traditions, “I see Fresh Expressions as the church of the future but I don’t think we should leave our inherited Christian traditions behind. I feel passionately called to bring that church together. But as pioneers we really need to work with people where they are and journey with them to the future by sharing their stories, our stories of the church and the inherited Christian tradition. We need to bring them to people in ways that are relevant, so that we can join together and journey forward.” For Tracey, her journey is continuing beyond Ilminster as she joins South Quantock benefice where she will complete her ordination training. Manna Magazine

“We really need to work with people where they are and journey with them.”


Diocesan parish consultant Caroline Bruce’s faith journey has taken some unlikely turns. As a teenager she left the church, feeling it was not for her. Today she is passionate about living her faith outside church as part of her personal mission plan and before that she sought to use her gifts to encourage people to come together, as part of their faith journey, outside the church walls. She says, “In my 20s I found it difficult to access my spiritual life through church and felt there was a dimension missing so and explored alternative spirituality. It was then I discovered that yoga had the power to calm me and take me to a quiet spiritual place. Years later, because my daughter wanted to sing in a choir, I was brought back into church and suddenly the two things coalesced. I found, through quite a long process, that there was a deep spiritual inner life to church that I had somehow missed first time around — and that what I had learned from yoga and meditation could be part of my religious life within church. ➜ Spring 2018 7


“I appreciate some people feel anxious at the mention of yoga but I believe the purpose of yoga is not to lead you to God but to lead you to a point of stillness where you can listen.” With that in mind Caroline set up yoga classes in the Wells Cathedral education room in a bid to get people who didn’t come to church to enter the building. The classes also reminded members of the church community that God is incarnate and they are, too – so their bodies can be part of their worship of God. “The classes ran for five or six years, during which they had a good response from the Cathedral community and others. When I stopped running the classes I realised that as a parish consultant I am telling people to get out there and do mission. I also need to be constantly taking one more step in telling the story. So I set up a group called ‘Conversations in Faith’, which attracted a diverse group of people, of all faiths and none. We discussed a range of topics, led by the members themselves and we started and ended the session praying together which was very powerful.” The group is no longer running but, as Caroline notes, “Not all of these projects are going to work forever but that’s not to be feared. You always need to have fresh new ideas which is

Caroline Bruce

“I do think in order to do mission you need to deepen your own discipleship: take one more step.” Finding a ‘place of stillness’ with yoga.

why I have recently become involved with a Community Theatre project. I think if you are a Christian it is really important to remember that being church isn’t confined to the building and we need to get out and live life as well do church. It is really easy to get bogged down in church things, so that’s why I’ve got involved with the project. I’ve not joined to get out there and convert people, but to get out there and be alongside people, celebrate and share their life and my life. But I do think in order to do mission you need to deepen your own discipleship: take one more step, learn something, say something, go with your passion. Evangelism is being awake to the invitation to say why you do what you do.” ■

Next steps

Find out more about the MissionShaped Introduction course on the Fresh Expressions website Hear more about Tracey’s time in Ilminster and watch other inspiring pioneering videos on our YouTube channel. Have a look at Faith pictures: 266913/Church_Army/ms/ Faith_Pictures/Faith_Pictures.aspx

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Manna Magazine

My church is…

Where people are By Bryce Tangvald, Holy Trinity, Frome.


or me church is community of believers who care for each other and inspire each other to grow and challenge each other. I have certainly grown in my seven years’ attending Holy Trinity, Frome, where I am pursuing pioneer ministry and am involved with some exciting community projects. I arrived in Frome from America to be closer to my English wife’s family. I initially became a volunteer youth worker at Holy Trinity, then an official church youth leader when a vacancy was made and a youth worker with Frome Area Christians Together at the same time. I have seen the message of hope that we have in Jesus change the perspective of people who are struggling and open their eyes to the potential of a different future. That’s what motivates me to care for people in the area and led to my involvement with the community projects. Between 10pm and 2am every other Friday we set up the Hope Coffee Van, a small caravan and a pop-up tent, and go out and speak to and pray for people. We get plenty of homeless people and pub-goers who come in, get a hot drink and chat for hours. We discuss what we believe and you can see them start to take it all in as we share the hope we have in Christ. This led us to setting up the Rest Station at Frome’s Independent Market, which is attended by 10-15,000 people on the first Sunday of the month. We simply offer water and a place of rest but as it always takes place on Communion Sunday, we

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Hearing stories of hope: Bryce Tangvald at the Live Lounge Frome.

“People can see that we are active in our faith.”

live out our faith and offer an agape meal to our volunteers, and anyone passing by. This sends a message to everyone walking through – that we are not just there to save them from the hustle and bustle, but that through communion we recognise the salvation we have in Jesus. Live Lounge Frome is our monthly café church type event, where we offer an opportunity for people to hear stories of the hope we have in Jesus. About 70 people attended the last one, so it was standing room only. All of these activities are based on a desire to care for a community outside the church’s walls and to meet them where they are, rather than expect them to come to us. They all work together and kind of intersect, offering hope in so many ways. People can see that we are active in our faith, not just talking about it, and are not simply Sunday morning church-goers. In those moments, I feel that I can clearly see that God is speaking into those people’s lives ■ Spring 2018 9


The beauty and richness of a ‘patchwork’ church

Evangelism Team Leader Tina Hodgett explains and explores Fresh Expressions of church in Bath & Wells.


n this edition of Manna we are exploring the idea of what the church of the future looks like, by looking at Fresh Expressions of church and examples of pioneering church. But what is a Fresh Expression and can you find them in our diocese? To answer these questions, last year the diocese asked the Church Army to find out. After a lengthy process they determined that 37 new Christian communities were Fresh Expressions of church, that is ‘a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church’.

Fresh Expressions

• Serve those outside the church; • Listen to people and meet them where they are; • Journey with people to Jesus; • Form church – they are not bridges to an existing church, but an expression of church for others in the midst of their lives. 10 Spring 2018

A mixed economy, Across the diocese many churches are or ‘patchwork experimenting wonderfully with ways of church’. engaging their communities in questions of faith: services held in pubs and church halls, pet services and other ‘specialist’ services, and interactive imaginative Christmas and Easter events. However, if these activities aim to draw people into existing church congregations, as wonderful as they are, they are not Fresh Expressions of church. Fresh Expressions “37 new are new Christian communities – as if the Christian church has given birth to a baby church. communities Most of our Fresh Expressions are aimed at families and try to offer all-age worship. were judged There are a number of Messy Churches to be Fresh and Café Churches which ‘do church’ in an Expressions.” informal environment where talking and

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“We believe there are many different forms of church still to be revealed.” discussing, making and eating, playing and praying with Play-Doh or sand trays is all seen as part of the worship. For adults who have no idea of the Christian story, these environments allow the whole family to learn together, ask questions and grow in faith.” The diocese is committed to supporting the growth of Fresh Expressions by creating specialist learning hubs. A Messy Church Hub will be launched on Saturday, 2 June by the founder of Messy Church, Lucy Moore and a Café Church Hub will launch later in the year. These are great examples of Fresh Expressions as early models of new Christian communities. They can be adopted, with adaptations for context, by any church team with the energy and resources to have a go. However, we believe there are many different forms of church still to be revealed. In Portishead, for example, a tiny Christian community evolved five years ago from a group of new mums who came to faith in a postnatal course, and in Cumbria there are new worshipping communities (churches!) based on Christian yoga classes. Fresh Expressions are shaped by the local culture and context. Many of our churches are in beautiful countryside and people who live in these areas often relate to God through the created world. Some of our pioneers have been exploring ways of bringing people together outside for worship, trying Forest Church or Outdoor Church, or making short pilgrimages to holy sites like Glastonbury Tor. On the Evangelism and Pioneer Team we hope to stimulate this kind of thinking by bringing like-minded people together to share ideas and imagine how to develop more of these outdoor Manna Magazine


Christian communities where people can express their spirituality in the natural world. This all begs the question: what is church? Although tomes have been written about this over the centuries, my favourite answer to this question comes from Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, who said, ‘The church is… what happens when Jesus is there, there received and recognised.’ The specifics of what we do when we gather as church is secondary to our intention to meet with Jesus and welcome him and make him known. This perspective affirms the value of traditional church with rows of seating, familiar hymns, sermons, robed ministers and the Eucharist. But if a church’s intention is to receive and recognise and gather round Jesus, it can take almost any form. Rowan Williams also coined the expression ‘mixed economy’ to describe the future of the church as a blend of different styles of church: traditional and contemporary, outdoor and indoor, active and restful, formal and informal, small and large, virtual and face-to-face, interest-based and heterogeneous. This is perhaps illustrated by the growth in Cathedral worship alongside the growth of Fresh Expressions of church. One of my preferred symbols for the future church is a patchwork quilt, made up of many different pieces of material – different textures, patterns, colours, shapes, all fitted together by the Holy Spirit into one beautiful display which represents the richness and diversity of the Body of Christ. What’s yours? ■

Next steps

Why not come along to the launch of the Messy Church Hub in June? You could also read the Fresh Expressions report at fresh-expressions and the diocese’s plans to support pioneering pioneering/pioneer-project Spring 2018 11


“Let’s unpick this Sunday thing.” Manna speaks to Dr Colin Greene, Programme Leader, Sarum College.


hinking outside church walls is nothing new for Sarum College’s Dr Colin Greene, who is Programme Leader for its Masters in Theology, Imagination and Culture. Colin came to faith in the 1960s as a student and immediately saw the value of integrating a faith perspective into “contemporary music and toured Ireland with his folk and rock band. He says, “Not quite an early U2, but you get the idea!” Colin originally studied Philosophy at Queen’s University, Belfast but after coming to faith went on to study Theology at Cambridge University. He says, “There has always been an intersection between philosophy and theology it’s a natural fit with theology in changing cultural contexts.” The importance of culture was emphasised to Colin during a five year spell teaching in Seattle where he observed a very different way of doing church. “America has turned consumerism into an art form, it’s the engine that drives everything. At first I was very sceptical about the churches that seemed to have pressed the consumerism button, with their lovely big buildings, their entertainmentstyle worship, but I have come to 12 Spring 2018

Dr Colin Greene

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realise that in a consumerist society you really have to make what you do as Christians appealing. That is not to say you should reduce church to entertainment, but you have to let people see there is a lighter side, a humorous side to religion,” he says. The MA in Theology, Imagination and Culture that Colin leads is designed to help the students focus on the wider cultural context and give them the tools to engage with it. He says, “Our students tell me that it is very easy, when running a church for example, to get focused inwards on church culture. This course encourages students to look outside and think about our own mass culture – what’s going on with digitalisation, with globalisation, with the new technologies of artificial intelligence? How do we think creatively and theologically about all of that and where is God in all of it? In doing so they find themselves much more able to understand the Manna Magazine

The sixties heralded huge cultural changes.

“You have to let people see there is a lighter side, a humorous side to religion.”

role of the church and, particularly the way the church currently reads culture, which it does badly. We give our students the critical tools to help them read the culture that we operate in, both from a missional perspective, a theological one and also by interpreting the stories and texts that help define our culture.” The course also gives students the tools to understand the very diverse spirituality that people now have and to understand what the church is, which can not simple be thought of as organised, institutional religion. He explains, “There has been a massive decline in the church since the 1960s. And whatever way you look at the figures there has been a catastrophic numerical decline which means a decline in support, financial giving, and a decline in human energy. There are all kinds of reasons for that, for instance women particularly, who had previously seen many of ➜ Spring 2018 13


their aspirations met by the Christian church, left as their aspirations were redirected elsewhere. “If we look at millennials, we can see that they don’t particularly want to be organised and can demonstrate an incredulity towards institutions, not just the church. Also we have moved to a much more fluid, network society - one where religion has been replaced by the completely ambiguous phrase ‘spirituality’. We need to understand that and reflect on this change in our culture For Colin one of the important things we need to do is “unpick this Sunday thing.” He says, “This is something as Anglicans that we are dominated by, because we think that liturgy is important and, while it is important, that is not necessarily going to be understood by people who don’t go to church. Sunday services can’t be our shop window, it is the worst day of the week for young people and families. Even our committed Christians who used to come once a week struggle with it because there are so many other legitimate calls on their time. That is not to say that church needs to become 24-7, but it really does have to be pioneering or building bridges and figuring out how it can create new communities or revitalise existing ones.” After studying modules such as ‘Reimagining Church in Contemporary Context’, ‘Theology and Film’ and ‘Relocating Religion’ it is perhaps no surprise therefore that students who have studied the course have been revitalised, with clergy saying it has “completely transformed” their ministry. The course has been running for seven years now, and the latest intake of students has been the largest yet, with a record 13 students encompassing all ages. Colin concludes, “We have been blessed with some exceptional students who have been set alight 14 Spring 2018

“If we look at millennials, we can see that they don’t particularly want to be organised.”

by their studies and as a result we have had some fantastic theses, from topics as broad as analysing the theology of US TV show, ‘Breaking Bad’, to one from a student with a PhD in Natural Sciences entitled ‘Lord, please help me be the person my dog thinks I am!’ But even if studying for an MA isn’t for you, many come and audit individual modules. All of us can play our part in revitalising our churches we just need to make sure we make an effort to read, think and reflect on what is happening in our wider culture, not just the church.”

A student’s view

Artists have depicted Mary Magdalene in many different ways.

Verity Eastwood-Dewing decided to study the MA on leaving Lee Abbey, after spending five years in their intentional Christian community in North Devon, and realised that the culture had changed significantly in the years she had been less embedded in it. She says, “I am deeply interested in exploring how and where faith ‘happens’ in our changing culture and how we as church might connect with that. I am increasingly convinced of the vital role that creativity and imagination play in enabling people to meet with God. This MA seemed just the ticket. It digs about in the intersection between faith, people and creativity.”

Manna Magazine


Verity, who worships at St Peter’s, Portishead, feels that her studies and her church life enrich one another. “I may sit in church listening to a passage of scripture and be challenged to think about how a theologian I’ve just learnt about might interpret it. I’ve also had some really interesting conversations discussing my essay topics with people; everything from whether performance art might be a religious experience, to questions arising from radically differing artistic depictions of Mary Magdalene meeting Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 20). The Holy Spirit can bring faith to life through the questioning and the wondering.” Manna Magazine

Papier mâché bowls: a creative way to pray.

“Creativity opens up a place where God can work.”

While Verity values the role of traditional church in her faith life, she also expresses her faith creatively, and recently helped lead a workshop which, along with her studies, has helped her think about prayer differently. She says, “Creativity opens up a place where God can work. I don’t always know if it is prayer or a gateway to prayer but in the workshops we explored different ways of using our bodies to pray through song, sign language and papier mâché. We made bowls that had prayers layered into the papier mâché structure; written prayers, poems, maps and drawings — even healing spices from someone’s kitchen cupboard were incorporated. I found that very exciting as it brought prayer out of being a cerebral activity into a much more embodied practice. Now when I go into my spice cupboard and take out my cloves and turmeric I am reminded to pray for people as I am cooking.” Verity concludes, “Traditions are fantastic things, they root us and nourish us but we need to rethink how they might better feed the culture we are in now. I would tell anyone who is nervous about change, to not be afraid and that God is always leading us to new things. To good things. What is there to lose?” ■

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News in brief

News in brief Updates from around our diocese.

Disagreeing well

The new minibus

New minibus for Kathryn’s Mercy Home

We would like to acknowledge and thank everyone who has contacted us following the last issue of Manna, which covered some difficult topics the church is grappling with. It is of real value to hear different views expressed and done so in a way that exhibits the grace of God. We may not always agree but we need to both listen and respond to the Spirit of God ■

Last year, the churches of the Quantock Deanery chose Kathryn’s Mercy Home as The Right Reverend Ruth Worsley, their charity to be funded by the Deanery Bishop of Taunton. Mission Project. Each church contributed towards the total of £9,600 to help raise funds for a minibus to transport the girls from their hostel to school in the town of Devakottai, India. Thanks to their generosity, girls no longer have to walk along the busy main road Bishop Peter and Bishop Ruth have which is set to become a major freeway ■ been spending an evening in each of the diocese’s 19 deaneries. The events were billed as ‘Deanery Bath Deanery is Synod Pluses’ as our Bishops asked that the preparing for a new invitation be extended to local agencies, prayer initiative charities, schools and businesses – all those between Ash working to serve and work for the good Wednesday and of our communities. Pentecost, as it seeks As part of the evening, many of the to form at least one sessions took an in-depth look at the Bath prayers ‘Community House Deanery Mission Plan, which all deaneries of Prayer’ in every council ward in the city. were tasked with preparing in 2017. Rural Dean Richard Wilson explains, The Ven Simon Hill, Archdeacon of “Normally, we pray with others from our Taunton, says, “The events have been own churches… the vision of this initiative excellent. Our rural deans and those is to gather with Christians from the ward attending have been pleased to hear where we actually live, regardless of which directly from the bishops and to meet and church we attend – simply meeting to pray chat with representatives of staff teams for God to bless our communities, bring based in Wells. Some great conversations healing and renewal, and for people to have started and seeds sown for new come to know Christ as Lord and Saviour.” ■ ways of working together.” ■

A city of prayer

16 Spring 2018

Valuable views

Bishops tour the deaneries

Bishop Peter at Glastonbury Deanery Synod Plus.

Manna Magazine

My church is…

New and evolving By Rob Davies from Andy’s in Backwell.


am part of the group that helps run Andy’s in Backwell, a relatively new church that was set up by two very different styles of churches, St Andrew’s, Backwell and Trendlewood Church, which was originally a church plant from Holy Trinity, Nailsea, but is now independent. My wife and I moved from Bristol to Backwell, a village in North Somerset, with our three children, from Bristol three years ago. We had been involved in a couple of large churches in Bristol, one of which regularly hosted 650 worshippers. We were also part of a church ‘graft’, which saw 50 members leave a larger church to commit to worshipping at a ‘struggling’ church that asked for our help. Together we created a new morning family service that aimed to fill the gap, work together with current members and integrate with the other services already in place. When we moved to Backwell we decided to attend an established church to have a break from church plants! But three years on, we find ourselves involved in Andy’s, a new church plant. This service meets once a month in Backwell High School’s Sixth Form Centre. Doors open at 10:00 for a 10:15 start and it finishes around 11.15. People can come and get a tea, coffee, croissants, fruit etc at any time throughout the service. After a welcome and a talk, people are often encouraged to visit different stations around the hall offering linked activities.

Manna Magazine

“We can have between 50 and 75 people come along and there is a nice energy and buzz about it.”

A growing number of people meet at Andy’s every month.

A lot of families in Backwell still attend their larger city churches, which I think reflects the fact people view communities differently now. The churches don’t have to be in the area in which you live, people are happy to travel to connect with what they think of as their community. But meeting once a month in Backwell enables these families and their kids to be encouraged by spending time with local school friends that come to Andy’s. Andy’s was established in the Autumn of 2014 and became monthly at Easter 2016. We can have between 50 and 75 people come along and there is a nice energy and buzz about it. Andy’s offering is evolving all the time. This year we have introduced the Explore Together format, which means there are normally two songs at the beginning and one at the end, and our trial of house groups has proved successful and are now permanent. Not bad for a monthly church! ■ Spring 2018 17

Out and About


across Bath and Wells

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Mission is… (Below) ■ Bleadon parish churchgoers found the ‘Mission is’ cards the perfect way to open up their Lent exploration as they shared ‘A journey with Jonah.’

18 Spring 2018

New church for Cotford St Luke (Left) ■ Church and community have been celebrating the cutting of the turf for a new church and community hub in the village of Cotford St Luke, near Taunton.

Shepton youth groups get sociable (Above)

A group of children from St Peter and St Paul’s youth groups, ■

Explorers and Cave, had a great time at their Pizza and Trampoline night. Manna Magazine

Out and About

Live from Yeovil (Right) ■ St John’s Yeovil churchgoers have had a fantastic response to live streaming their Sunday services via YouTube. A big thanks to their ‘fab techies’. See resources/livestream

Enterprising Easter (Right) ■ Well done to the girls at St Js After School Club, Peasedown St John, who had the idea of selling Easter cards they had made in aid of charity.

Bells fall silent at Backwell (Above) ■ But not for long. The existing bells have been removed for refurbishment Manna Magazine

Mothering Sunday at St Mary’s (Below) ■ The congregation and community of Hardington Mandeville received pretty primulas on Mothering Sunday thanks to nursery staff at South Somerset District Council.

in a once in a lifetime project which will see them returned in pristine condition, supplemented by two new ones.

To find out what’s happening across the diocese, see our events calendar at Spring 2018 19

Time Out

Fast chariot… or left behind By Richard Calverley.


ollywood and the church? Cecil B DeMille and Ben Hur aside, neither have been easy bedfellows, but what do films have to say about the future of church? Left Behind (12, 2000) and its mega-buck remake starring Nicolas Cage (15, 2014), gives us some idea of the end times, but both were poorly received by critics. In The Book of Eli (15, 2010), against many odds, and with several twists, Denzel Washington is on a postapocalyptic quest to save a single, surviving, mysterious text that will offer great power to the holder. Any guesses which? Like in the very different biopic Miracles from Heaven (12A, 2016); in which a child’s dramatic healing restores her family’s faith, maybe even Hollywood has some inkling that, whatever happens ahead, God will always be in charge. Perhaps though, for the future, we need to look at the past. At the end of The Robe (U, 1953), Richard Burton and Jean Simmons have to publically choose Jesus or Roman Emperor Tiberius and face the earthly and eternal consequences that follow. Similarly Chariots of Fire (U, 1981), juxtaposes Harold Abrahams’ singleminded pursuit for Olympic glory against the choice of Eric Liddell to put aside his own aims for the higher purpose of glorifying God. Both films remind us that placing Jesus and his will at the centre of the church rather than simply focusing on our own plans, is the way forward; whatever the circumstances ■ 20 Spring 2018

“Maybe even Hollywood has an inkling that God will always be in charge.”

Surf style

‘Theos’ is seeking to generate informed debate about the role and purpose of Christianity and the church at large in UK society ‘through research, commentary and events’. It’s not only here in the UK where significant reflection is happening across church communities against a backdrop of shifting and declining congregations. For a US perspective on shifting and declining congregations, try Christianity Today and ‘Refresh the Church’ Visit and watch its 2016 documentary about applying a business model to assess church performance and decline. For those interested in the extreme form of future church, namely the end times; reliable and sound Bible study material can be found through Derek Prince Ministries bible-studies and 24/7 prayer pioneer Mike Bickle Returning to our shores, there is lots of information and resources at and

The Diocese of Bath & Wells is not responsible for any content on external sites. Manna Magazine

Delving deeper Book reviews by Richard Greatrex.


f you are looking for inspiration, theological underpinning or tried-andtested ideas for your community’s Fresh Expression of church then there are plenty of books to help you. The Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) is the team which has supported Lucy Moore with Messy Church. Not only does it publish all the Messy Church materials, along with the tri-annual resource ‘Get Messy’, it also produces a number of books that give depth to Messy Church ministry: George Lings ‘Messy Church Theology’ is particularly useful, as are ‘Messy Prayer’ (Jane Leadbetter), ‘Messy Hospitality’ (Lucy Moore) and ‘Messy Togetherness’ (Martyn Payne). Elsewhere, if you look around the BRF list you will find a range of well-thought-out books on a variety of ways of growing the Gospel outwards into every corner of the community. Sally Welch’s ‘Outdoor Church’, which takes churches outside the building to find fresh connections with the environment, George Lings ‘Reproducing Churches’, which investigates the theological basis for creating new expressions of church, and David Walker’s ‘God’s Belongers’ which examines how people engage with God today and what this means for the church, are just three of many titles worth looking at. If you want to delve deeper into modern church initiatives then the four volumes in Canterbury Press’s ‘Ancient Faith, Future Mission’ series are required reading. Written by some of the key thinkers in these areas, such as Graham Cray, Steven Croft, Phil Potter and Ray Simpson, they make connections between contemporary forms of church and ancient practices, as the series title suggests. The Manna Magazine

“It is not always ‘out with the old, in with the new’.”

Richard is the manager of Aslan Christian Bookshops and associate priest in Long Ashton with Barrow Gurney and Flax Bourton.

Time Out

most recent volume, ‘Doorways to the Sacred’, discusses how Fresh Expressions can grow from mission projects into rooted and authentic forms of church with their own sacramental life, while previous values, ‘Fresh Expressions in the Sacramental Tradition’, ‘New Monasticism as Fresh Expression of Church’ and ‘Fresh Expressions of Church and the Kingdom of God’, ask challenging questions and provide innovative answers to issues about mission and the value of tradition. Grove Booklets are short, sharp and to the point. They cover a huge range of topics and they are fast-moving, responding to and initiating new developments in mission, ministry and church life. They can also be given to or passed around PCCs and church groups to help everyone get to grips with a subject. Both ‘Fresh Expressions of Church: Fishing Nets or Safety Nets?’ (Matt Stone) and ‘Reaching the Saga Generation: Fresh Expressions for Ageing Baby Boomers’ (Chris Harrington), while a little dated in their research, contain many useful ideas. However, I would thoroughly recommend Tim Sumpter’s ‘Freshly Expressed Church: Lessons from Fresh Expressions for the Wider Church’ as a great starting-point for church discussion. Having examined a selection of pioneer ministries, Sumpter has translated their experiences into his traditional church setting, showing that it is not always ‘out with the old, in with the new’ but that taking risks is a vital part of growth – if we risk nothing, we might lose everything anyway. Most tellingly, he reminds us that sometimes we must break what already exists, what we might be comfortable with, in order for the Gospel to grow within and beyond the walls of our community ■ Spring 2018 21

My church is…

Meditative By the Revd Nigel Done, Ilminster.


had been practising Christian meditation for around 10 years when I arrived in Ilminster. It’s a way of prayer taught by the early Christian mystics and rediscovered by Thomas Merton in the 1950s and ’60s. I came to it through the World Community of Christian Meditation (WCCM) and found the practice of silent prayer utterly transforming. I started a small group in Norton St Philip shortly before I left there, and had a strong calling that I should not be slow in doing the same in Ilminster. There are a lot of people who have read or been told that meditation holds something of value for them, if only they were brave enough to start. It seemed the kind thing to do was create an opportunity to begin. So three years ago I got a very small group of people together who had some experience of meditating (all from different traditions), and we planned an introductory course. The premise was; to help Christians see the good and godly in other religions and those of other faiths or none to see there is good in the Christian faith that they might not have experienced before. To our surprise and joy around 40 people attended the first course. Since then we have founded a truly loving community formed around the simple practice of silent prayer. We meet in the Minster church in a space dedicated to prayer. We have a small steering group that plans and reflects on how we are doing. We have a sturdy but not inflexible pattern of meeting: 8.10am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. There 22 Spring 2018

The door is open to Ilminster’s Community of Meditation.

“To our surprise and joy around 40 people attended the first course.”

is a reading from ‘Silence and Stillness in Every Season’ by John Main followed by 20 minutes of silence. At 8.40am some leave and some arrive for Morning Prayer. Our main weekly gathering is on Wednesday evenings at 7pm. We usually arrive to the sound of improvised clarinet music played from one of the recesses of the church. We then have a stilling exercise, a reading, a chant and silence. There are usually 12-20 people who attend at one time, but around 30-50 people who relate to the community in some way. On the first Wednesday evening of the month we meet for an hour and invite a speaker to share something of their wisdom and experience on meditation and we eat together about twice a year ■

Next steps

Contact Nigel by email: to find out when he will next be running an introductory course on meditation. Find out more about Christian Meditation at Manna Magazine

THY KINGDOM COME 2018 Are you ready to join the global wave of prayer? 10-20 May 2018 INSPIRATION For information and ideas on how to involve your school, church or family, visit

CELEBRATION Join us in Bath Abbey at 19.30 on Thursday, 10 May when the Right Reverend Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton, and the Revd Simon Ponsonby from St Aldate’s Church, Oxford, will lead a service of celebration to mark the start of Thy Kingdom Come.

PRAYER Wells Cathedral will host a prayer labyrinth and art installation throughout Pentecost. Don’t miss out on this life-changing movement. Find out more and Pledge2Pray by visiting

24 Spring 2018

Manna Magazine

Manna - Issue 31  
Manna - Issue 31