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A Community of Communities

"...unlike any workshop or course I have ever done before" commented an Anglican vicar on a 4 Day Basic Workshop held in Birmingham in 1994. The workshop was about 'a new way of being church' and led a church in the south-west to begin a long journey to do just this.

There were two main features to this journey -

-a shift from congregation to small community as the primary working unit of the church
- a change of orientation from church programme to that of the reign of God - to be church in and as part of the local community.

Practical workshops were held over a period to consult with church members about this process. The church was then divided into four areas and in each a small Christian community became the local basic unit of church. Their mission was to develop a reflective Jesus' perspective, to share together the needs of the local area and to become agents of transformation.

John Summers, the parish priest at the time, wrote, "This is mission at the very simplest level and real mobilization of the church at the grassroots. It involves evangelism but it is much more than that; the agenda for the group is provided by life; the reality that surrounds us."

To enable this process to grow it became essential that there was a change in way leadership functioned. Leadership became more organic and shared, a reflective coordination group of those actually engaged in this new way of being church.

The journey was often one step forwards and two steps back but the local community reflected the importance of the changed orientation. "These communities have been an essential part of the regeneration of this area", testified a local councillor.


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