Pioneer ordinands start Church Mission Society course
Five new pioneer ordinands have joined Church Mission Society's Pioneer Mission Leadership Training course.
They join 20 other new students joining the course this year as lay practitioners.
The new pioneer ordinands will go on to be ordained within the Church of England.
It follows the Church of England's groundbreaking decision in January to approve CMS as an official pathway for training ordained pioneer ministers.
The new candidates include James Henley, the first ordinand from the Church in Wales to be assigned pioneer status. He is also one of the students taking the new MA course, which started for the first time this academic year.
Nearly 50 students in total are studying on the CMS Pioneer course at certificate, foundation degree, MA or modular level.
The start of this academic year marked the first time that all year groups are studying at the same time.
"There is a new energy at CMS now all our students come together for training," says course leader Jonny Baker.
"You can't gather such a creative, diverse yet dynamic group of people passionate about mission, without feeling excited about the future of the church!.
"We are growing a strong and vibrant learning community that learns as much from each other as anything we teach on the course."
Kim Hartshorne, who leads the Upper Room community in Cirencester and is training to be an ordained pioneer minister, is equally excited about the course.
"The mix of students all innovating and experimenting in a huge range of settings and willing to share experiences with one another is fantastic," she said.
"It's great to be based in the heart of such an established and innovative mission organisation, which is now also a missional community.
"The breadth and depth of expertise in reaching out cross culturally will be a great foundation."
The course was started two years ago in Oxford and now supports a Pioneer Hub for the South Central Regional Training Partnership to share best practice and learning between pioneers.
The courses are taken alongside pioneering mission work already being undertaken by the students.
This includes a renovated pub now hosting a major art exhibit and community events in Colwyn Bay, training and leading local church members in outreach at a pagan festival, and the country's first "park pastor" in Rugby.
Baker added: "The most important are the stories we're hearing from students about the mission they're doing in their own places."