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Reaching into forgotten corners

by Michael Ford last modified 04 Sep, 2021 12:02 AM

In the past year, four Pioneer Curates have been ordained in this Diocese, and they have now been gathered into a ‘Pioneer Curates Hub’ co-ordinated by the Revd Paul Bradbury of Poole Missional Communities.

Reaching into forgotten corners

The Revd Mike Badger is pictured right

Alongside the normal curacy training process, the Hub gives them additional supervision and support to acknowledge the particular calling of pioneer ministry. The focus of the hub is to support and enable these curates in their local pioneer ministry but also in the enabling of the pioneer ministry of others more widely in their local parish and deanery.

Mike Badger was ordained deacon this year, and is based at Harnham St George and All Saints. Here he talks about what’s developed in his first year as a pioneer curate:

"I first felt called to pioneering ministry when I became aware of the difficulty many people have with some traditional and even contemporary forms of Anglicanism, including myself I hasten to add. This became apparent during my work as a chaplain working in homelessness and in facilitating an addiction recovery support group.

"I realised many people have an interest in spirituality and recognise both their own and more general human brokenness. Furthermore, they are often not averse to seeking the redemption and wholeness that we believe is found in Christ. However, often they are unable to relate to some of the language, rituals and environments presented by traditional forms of church.

"This is often due to negative past experiences and associations that many people have of very controlled or institutionalised environments, sometimes due to abuse or negative experiences with institutions. It is also due to unfamiliar language, culture or distance from their own lives and experiences.

"My response to this was to join with some Christian friends in an alternative expression of worship during a weekday evening. This was primarily designed to serve the diverse local community rather than a less diverse gathered community.

"At about the same time, my chaplaincy work also led to a further pioneering ministry in what we called a Life Recovery Group, and a drug and alcohol addiction recovery course rooted in Scripture. I did not do this alone, but together with my wife Kerry, and another couple with a God-given heart for this work.

"My experience of pioneering is not one in which we go it alone but work together in teams. In my experience, this is how we work more joyfully and effectively.

"Since then I have taken on the leadership of a small local charity called Morning Star (Salisbury) that seeks to support those who have been damaged and bruised by the storms of life. It particularly focusses on homelessness and its causes, isolation and poverty in Salisbury and the surrounding area.

"I see this work as helping to resource the church for mission, and very much related to pioneering ministry. Recognising that recovery from trauma and addiction is very specialised, Morning Star now runs the Life Recovery Course in collaboration with St Paul’s Church in Salisbury.

"This not only helps to provide the specialist resources and focus necessary to competently run such a venture; but it also provides the church with opportunities to fulfil some of the five marks of mission, through which discipleship also occurs.

"I think the call to this work - these experiences so far, my work with Morning Star, together with theological training in Bristol - has taken me on a path which has prepared and equipped me to work together with Harnham Parish.

"I felt drawn to this parish partly because they are very open to pioneering initiatives, and these may help to break down some of the barriers between the church and its community. In particular, to help the church to seek out the lost and the lonely; and to help create an accessible and relevant church for the whole context of the parish. This then leads to a diverse worshipping community that extends God’s kingdom as it transforms the local area.

"Psalm 68:5-6 says:

Father of orphans and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God gives the desolate a home to live in;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious live in a parched land.

"I see this as a way of fulfilling at least part of my declaration at the ordination of deacons. This was ‘to serve the community in which they [the deacons] are set, bringing to the Church the needs and hopes of all the people. They are to work with their fellow members in searching out the poor and weak, the sick and lonely and those who are oppressed and powerless, reaching into the forgotten corners of the world, that the love of God may be made visible.’

"I also think that as I move toward a pioneering priestly ministry, there is a great need to administer the sacraments in this new community, offering absolution and forgiveness of sins, baptising, nourishing and building up God’s people."

Alongside Mike, the other Pioneer Curates are the Revds Sally Taylor (Hamworthy - read more here), Steve Atkins (Spetisbury with Charlton Marshall and Blandford St Mary and The Point, Wimborne), and Lindy Cameron (Hilfield Friary).

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