#MyPilgrim - re-finding their faith as Pilgrims make prayerful progress

Monday, September 28, 2015

Revd Phil Marsh and Revd Maureen Collins have run the Pilgrim course at St Wilfrid’s Church, which serves Wilford, Silverdale and Compton Acres. The sessions were deeply rewarding, with people finding faith, rediscovering faith, and deepening their faith. The keys to these transformations have been prayer, reflection and taking the time to discern what God is already doing.

 

Revd Collins describes what has been happening:

“We started our first pilgrim course after Christmas, and were surprised to have about 30 people come along, many of whom were not church members or were on the fringes. There was much encouragement throughout the course and when it finished they wanted to both mark the occasion, and continue meeting.

Six of the pilgrims gave testimony to how they had grown in their faith, and reaffirmed their baptismal vows the very next Easter Sunday. We then started the second course (The Lord’s Prayer) where about 16 people continued to attend. Alongside this group, we started a new group of about 10 enquirers, running the first course again. Some of these had heard from friends or family how much they had got out of Pilgrim and so now they wanted to do it as well. This group included people preparing for marriage, wanting their children to be baptised, exploring communion, and just interested. Because of their interest we are now offering Pilgrim to all of our wedding couples and Baptism families.

One member was the wife of someone on the first course, who wanted to find out why her husband had changed (for the better!) since he started coming to church. Several of this group have also said they want to reaffirm their baptism vows, or be baptised, or be confirmed. It is so exciting to see people move forward in their journey of faith, and to see them recognise and mark that fact as well.

We discovered the Pilgrim Course alongside our involvement as a church with a process called ‘Partnership for Missional Church’, that we have been engaged in through our diocese of Southwell & Nottingham, and in partnership with Church Innovations. As part of this process we have been exploring how missional spiritual practices can shape and influence the missional culture of the church. In doing this we have learned how to pay attention to those whom God is at work in around us, and so to seek to work with people rather than for them.

This has meshed really well with the format of the Pilgrim course; instead of us delivering the material to the course members we have instead led and shared with them in the exploration of spiritual practices of prayer, Lectio Divina, reflection, and attentiveness to what God is doing, as well as exploring how to discern together the leading of God and what He might be saying to us.

For the first group, we are now defunct as leaders. In just a few short weeks they have learned spiritual practices that will enable them to continue as missional life-long disciples of Jesus. On the last evening of the second course, we were surprised and delighted to be presented with a cake, made by two of the attendees, with characters of us on it. What a great way to celebrate!

What underpins all this? A change in approach. No longer are we presenting God with our grand ministry plans and looking for him to bless them. Instead we have slowed right down, and through the exercise of missional spiritual practices, we are paying attention to what God is doing, seeing who God is at work in, and joining in with Him, and inviting them to do the same, with them, instead of to or for them."