Saturday 8th January in the late afternoon, 5pm, St Mary's Walthamstow.
A bit of a milestone in the Smith Family journey.
For a couple of years now we've been exploring The Order of Mission - a new monastic movement of pioneering missional leaders in a variety of contexts, working in a dispersed way across the globe. Sounds pretty exciting huh?
The process for us has involved being in a Huddle as an expression of accountability and as the place where the relationships and the Rule of the Order is caught, not taught. We've had an Exploration weekend where we've met with others on similar journeys and talked, prayed and reflected on whether this is the right step for us and our family. And on Saturday, along with the Ashtons and Jeanenne, we took Temporary Vows into the Order of Mission, joining with 420 other people across the world. It was a great day!
Andy and I have been together 10 years this year and for the entirety of our relationship, youthwork and church ministry of one kind or another has been at the centre. We've had our ups and downs and haven't always felt settled in church - some of that is just because youthwork is often on the margins. However, we have been saddened, knowing that we and our church families have often sold out to the comfortable ways and the religiosity rather than getting on with the call to make disciples. In the back of our minds through all that was the knowledge that Andy had a call to ordained ministry, but for a long while that wasn't a NOW call but a future call.
When we moved to Essex 2006, we began relating with Andy Poultney and his wife Linsey through my work. They had been Temporary members of TOM for a number of years and we began to hear more about the Order and particularly LifeShapes which act as the Rule of Life of the members and are a great discipleship tool. They took Permanent Vows in 2010 and took on the leadership of the London Huddle of which we're a part and Andy P and I increasingly used the LifeShapes tools in our mentoring and training of youthworkers.
We started engaging with a Huddle in 2009 and I also attended Pilgrimage up in Sheffield which was the birthplace of TOM. In the summer of 2009 the previous call to Andy towards the priesthood became very much live and with that process of discernment taking off, we knew we needed to root ourselves in a place where we could honestly work through all the big decisions and to provide stability as we moved churches and contemplated further moves for Andy to train in the future.
We acknowledge that we've often felt out of place in church - finding often that we're questioning and pushing at the boundaries which makes us appear mutinous and rebellious and sometimes just downright awkward! But in that, we love the Church, the Bride of Christ and want to see her become all she can be - transforming communities and offering hope and life in all it's fullness. TOM is an Anglican Order - with the Archbishop of York as one of the Guardians and for us, it's important to be rooted in the established and the longevity of the Church of England while also being part of a new monastic movement. We're Anglicans but we're also Jesus followers first and foremost and TOM is Jesus focused not denomination focused. TOM has allowed us space to come to terms with who we are and why we often feel frustrated, which stops us becoming divisive.
LifeShapes provides a guide for referencing the way Jesus did things alongside our own life. We've particularly resonated with the SemiCircle in our marriage and putting it first and the Triangle as we've started a new house group and youth group in our current church.
So, Saturday was a stake in the ground and as we take further new steps into Andy's ordination selection process and look at selling our house and moving in the future we're glad to be part of this wider family that will carry us through.
Bob Hopkins spoke briefly at the Initiation and encouraged us to:
Do Nothing - out of vain conceit, value others above yourselves. Have an attitude like Christ Jesus.
Do Everything - without complaining, as children of God, blameless and pure and shine like stars as you hold out the word of life.
Clothe Ourselves - with humility, compassion, kindness...
(Pictures to follow...)
As a PS to the event above, after the service, we all headed to South Woodford for a pizza (30 of us!!) - parking in Waitrose car park where we were later locked in and so had to have an impromptu sleepover in East London! 11 of us stranded but all home safely by Sunday lunchtime!