|This Article is from the Spring 2007 edition of good idea!, also available here in a fully formatted PDF file.|
One thing a mission can provide is a new vision of ministry and how it can be carried on. An inner city mission in Edmonton sparked innovations that continue today.
A team of students from Wycliffe College spent an extended weekend at St. Faith’s in inner city Edmonton, infusing new life into the parish and surrounding community through music, storytelling and breaking bread.
St. Faith’s is characterised by its ministry to the poor, through Sunday services, community meals and the children’s program. This ministry of hospitality created a cornerstone for community, and the parish was ready to take the next step.
The mission team taught the parish basic tools on how to share their faith. They shared personal stories, introduced contemporary worship music, gave a reflection on Lord of the Rings for the teenagers, gathered people in home groups, and inspired the children with new songs and games. Much of the activity did not take place in the church: instead, the team went to where the community gathered—the youth centre, the hall and people’s homes. These simple but effective methods encouraged people to share their faith more openly. This creative approach opened a door for the people of St. Faith’s to be disciples—and to make disciples.
The parish experienced a wave of renewal as parishioners realised their own potential through using their gifts. The mission impacted the women’s ministry as one parishioner acted on her vision to create a women’s group which still flourishes today. The Women’s Fellowship Group, based on the mission model, reaches out to both the parish and community meeting monthly with testimony, music and a program, all centred around a meal. A monthly healing ministry began at a nearby women’s shelter using prayer, shared stories, and singing.
The home groups gave parishioners on the periphery an opportunity to become directly involved in both the parish and the community. The parish moved quickly from becoming a loosely knit assembly of individuals to a community investing in one another through true friendship and informal pastoral care.
The children’s program thrived on the changes from the mission, with several young ones asking to be baptised and to become servers in Sunday worship. Some children also brought their parents and grandparents to St. Faith’s. The parish implemented Youth Alpha for the teenagers, and the new music quickly became an integral part of the parish’s music ministry.
“We can do this!” was the voice of a growing lay leadership who began looking at intentional ways of implementing the parish mission statement: “Reaching out and growing in Christ’s love”. What the Wycliffe mission team offered was an experience of Spirit filled ministry to “… equip the saints for the work of ministry.” (Ephesians 4: 13)