New pioneer role at SCBA
In an exciting development, Ali Boulton has been officially appointed as the Pioneer Mission Enabler at the Southern Counties Baptist Association (SCBA).
The new role came about in the wake of the departure of then Regional Minister Lynn Green to General Secretary of our Baptist Union. Rather than appoint a replacement immediately, the Association resolved to take time and wait on the Holy Spirit , and from this a conviction about pioneering grew.
It has now resulted in the call of Ali, a pioneer minister at The Stowe,
a growing Christian community supported by Home Mission in a new housing estate in Swindon.
‘When Lynn left we wanted to wait on God and did that for about six months,’ said SCBA team leader Grenville Overton, ‘We became convinced that the way forward was about being missional. I understand the administrative and pastoral issues are still core for us, but the future is about reaching the unreachable.
‘Having someone like Ali who has this community way of relating to people, accepting them as they are, will really help. We need to find new ways of connecting.
"I don't know where you are, but you've almost certainly got new housing coming up somewhere near you - wouldn't it be great if the Christian community in this country were getting into these communities and blessing people"
‘Not only did Ali plant a church, she re-engaged the way people see church. We need to give a new rationale about what it means to be church. It’s not just singing hymns, but engaging in their lives, listening to their needs. We are putting that investment into the heart of the Association.’
Grenville said that Ali will be embedded in the Association team, giving support to contacts and projects already taking place in the region. Her insight will also be shared across in the developing Association partnership of SCBA and the West of England, South West and South Wales Baptist Associations, 'developing mutually beneficial capacity, vision, and support'.
Ali explained she will be building on church traditions and helping people to explore what pioneer mission looks like in their context. She was formally appointed at an Association Extraordinary General Meeting in early July, and there she used an expression from mountaineer George Mallory to capture something of what she will be doing.
‘Mallory got up one morning and said: “Today we are stepping off the map, we are going where no cartographer has been.” I like the expression because I will be helping lead people “off the map” in their context - whether it be a new expression of church, new ways of engaging with community.
‘But it also recognises that the well worn paths leading to that point had to be there - we are building on church traditions and what has gone before. Pioneering is for all of us.’
It’s a “half-time” role, meaning she won’t be leaving The Stowe. As the work of The Stowe has grown, new leaders have emerged to take on roles Ali will no longer be able to do. ’It’s sad in one way, but very exciting in many others,’ Ali said. ‘And people at the Stowe have been really supportive.’