Bishop Paul commissions first fellows into the Joshua Centre

Our centre for Pioneer Ministry has it's first Fellows with a brief to encourage, mentor and support the multiplication of congregations

A short informal act of worship marked the start of an important new era for the Joshua Centre for Pioneer Ministry as Bishop Paul commissioned Revd Frank Hinds and Revd Duncan Petty as its first Fellows. Duncan and Frank join Joshua Centre Director, Canon Richard White, in sharing the vision for multiplying congregations across our Diocese.

Both Frank and Duncan have experience in planting churches. Frank established the Unit, a youth church in our diocese before being called to establish Gateway, a church plant in the centre of Wigan. Duncan planted Oaks a church in Skelmersdale 11 years ago.
In his commissioning letter Bishop Paul said “I am committed to working to see the Church grow in influence, depth and numbers across the Diocese of Liverpool; a bigger church to make a bigger difference in the world, sharing the good news of the gospel, making disciples of Jesus and transforming society.  Moreover, I am convinced that the royal road to church growth, across the whole diversity of our Church of England, is the multiplication of congregations within our neighbourhoods and networks. 

If this is to be done well then every congregation, group or gathering will need to reflect our CORE values. As you know, we have identified these as being Christ-centred, Open & accountable, Relationally supported and Evangelistic.

We have seen your commitment and experience on the ground in this type of ministry. While recognising that none of us has all of the answers we recognise in your leadership and ministry precisely the sort of role model and mentor we want to invest in new pioneers.  I commission you therefore to spread this vision boldly and look with eyes of faith for the opportunities that will be given by the Spirit. Encourage, pray, teach and challenge them and us keep focussed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. 

As a Fellow you are a vital bridge. You represent me and the Diocese in our commitment to resource and support our pioneers as they take risks and minister on the ground. At the same time you represent their work, sacrifice, struggles and successes to us.”
Revd Duncan Petty said “I found the short act of commissioning both very moving and significant. I came feeling it was a correct and logical extension of what I was previously doing and where my heart was and left feeling that I had been approved for and taken on something special, and that there was a real responsibility in this to show the way for those coming along behind. “ Reflecting on his experience at the Oaks he commented “Much of this has felt extremely fragile at times, and still does in some respects but growth has occurred, and I see that sense of fragility as an inevitable part of identifying and releasing people into fresh ways of being church. Some will establish themselves, some will function fruitfully for a season and some will need to revisit their original plans and reform, not because they have failed but because the very nature of sowing and growing has some setbacks
Revd Frank Hinds added  “It is a privilege and a pleasure to be commissioned as a Fellow of the Joshua Centre, it is a fantastic initiative, and it is exciting to be involved in the beginning of its journey.  Its aims and my heart are in tandem, looking to spread the kingdom and gospel of Jesus through planting and multiplying congregations.   The church faces critical challenges in the years ahead, both locally and nationally, and I believe passionately that one of the ways that the church will need to adapt to new landscapes will be new and innovative ways of doing church.  It is a challenge of faith, imagination, prayer and courage, and I hope many will join us in the journey”

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About the Joshua Centre for Pioneer Ministry

Led by Canon Richard White, the Joshua Centre will work to develop a culture, process and support network within which pioneering new congregations is normal, achievable and sustainable. 'Centre' refers to it being a focus for prayer, learning, vision and support, rather than a building. This will involve reaching new groups of people through new congregations and new communities of worshipping disciples.

Speaking at his comissioning, Richard explained the aim of the project is “specifically focused on multiplying congregations – a congregation could be a new church, it could be a new community, it could be a new congregation within a church - cathedral and diocese coming together in a partnership forming this umbrella, trying to give support to that, called The Joshua Centre.”

Read the interview here