In January 2022 more than 30 people from across all our Circuits met to explore what it might mean to create new Christian communities – new places for new people – within our District.
Rev Sean Adair, our Deputy Chair, led us in worship and shared testimony from our pilot in Barrow Hill and the Rother estates in Chesterfield. Sean told us stories of patient listening, prophetic and discerning prayer, and how this work is starting to fulfil a yearning dating back to the formation of the Derbyshire North East Circuit.
Deacon Eunice Attwood, Connexional Church at the Margins Officer, passionately shared stories of how she was unconditionally loved into Methodism, and of her recent experiences of exploring faith with new people through Inclusive Gathering Birmingham, a new Methodist congregation. Eunice led us through the potential impact of new places for new people, processes that other pioneers have followed, and what we might expect from a fruitful (dare we say "successful"?) new Christian community. She shared news of pilot projects in other Districts, and helped us to start identifying visions for new congregations in our own contexts.
After lunch Neil Harland, our Mission Development Support Worker, introduced some of the steps we will need to follow to turn our visions of new into new realities for new people. Working in circuit groups, we were encouraged to find that that each of us could identify real tangible opportunities and start to think about how we might respond to these.
Rev Gill Newton, our Chair, concluded our day with worship and we committed together and individually to what we would do next. People we would speak to. Places we would pray over. Visions we would articulate. Communities we felt called to.
Neil Harland, Mission Development Support Worker, said: "Starting new places for new people is necessarily slow. It involves active dialogue, with God, with people beyond and not looking for "church", and with fellow Christians. Each of our Circuit Leadership Teams will now reflect on what this means for them.
"If you feel a holy discontent, are passionate about sharing the Good News with a particular group of people, know others who feel the same, and are energized by this possibility, I would love to speak with you. Maybe this is a calling to start a new place for new people."
Our District Leading Team will meet in March discuss how we support this new movement. Why not Zoom into the New Places for New People Hub on 8 February to find out more.