The latest Resourcing Mission bulletin from the Church of England has a paper summarising where the CofE has got to with Bishops Mission Orders (BMO). A BMO is a way of legally recognising a new mission initiative that either doesn't relate to a geographical parish, cuts across them, or simply works best as a freestanding initiative rather than something answerable to a parish leadership/vicar.
BMO's came into existence in 2007, as part of the emerging mission agenda in the CofE, and following the experience of several 'Fresh Expressions' which didn't naturally fit into a system based on geographical parishes alone.
A few headlines:
- there are now 22 BMOs in operation
- a further 22 are being considered
- 27 out of the 43 Dioceses either have a BMO in operation or are thinking about it.
- the vast majority are in urban or suburban areas.
- 5 are focused on youth/students, 6 on new housing areas, 3 on networks, and 2 on central business districs in cities. 8 have a wider remit across a town, area or deanery. So there's quite a bit of variety.
- there's a variety of worship venues - 5 use a parish church belonging to someone else, several use hotels, pubs, schools or cafes, and there are cell churches too.
The paper gives a few examples:
Sorted - youth congregation in Bradford run by a Church Army evangelist
Emmanuel Bristol - mission community planted by Christ Church Clifton, has grown from 50 to 180 adults in 4 years.
Glo - mission project from a church in Stockport based on community development on 2 large housing estates.
The Order of the Black Sheep - deserves a BMO for the title alone. Mission community for folk on the margins.
Exeter Network Church - reaching hundreds of people in Exeter through a variety of networks, like sport, prisons, debt counselling, youth, social projects etc. ENC has been running since 2005, and the BMO has given it the legal equivalence to 'parish status' that gives it an extra sense of legitimacy and 'proper church'.
Kairos - a network of small missional communities within a Deanery.
York Community Chaplaincy - a business/city chaplaincy in York, also involved in Street Angels.
As well as showing how BMOs can be used to creatively reinvent the CofE at local level, each story is also an encouraging account of mission in various settings, so even if you have no interest in Bishops Mission Orders, its exciting just to see what people are doing.