James Henley has become the first person from the Church in Wales to be selected to train for Ordained Pioneer Ministry.
The Bench of Bishops in Wales agreed that James - team leader at The Lab, Newport - should be trained on the course run by CMS in partnership with the Oxford Ministry Course at Ripon College, Cuddesdon.
I'm hugely grateful for the opportunity to train for Ordained Pioneer Ministry and I'm looking forward to learning more about mission and ministry, whilst continuing my work with The Lab. It will be exciting to be able to learn and, at the same time, put that learning into practice.
At the moment I'm a bit apprehensive about all the changes that are coming my way but it's also exciting to think about studying again, looking into mission and culture in the company of a learning community. It will definitely mean that I will need to rely more on the other leaders we've got. As I step up into this training process, it will require me to step down from a lot of the things I do now. I will have to prioritise.
The Lab is a project initiated by the Bishop of Monmouth to develop a church community of students and young adults in Newport who would not otherwise have contact with a traditional parish church. The project began in 2006 and is supported by the Church in Wales and the Methodist Church.
In September 2008, The Lab launched on the Alway estate on the edge of Newport, forming a residential community of young adults to invest time in the neighbourhood and build relationships with local young people.
Now the work is looking to develop further. James explains,
My wife and I have just moved on to an estate in Duffryn on the opposite side of Newport. We're hoping to do some groundwork for planting a new community there a bit later this year. On top of that, we're expecting our first baby in December so there's a lot going on!
We are using this time at The Lab, before the start of another academic year, to take stock of what has happened over the past 12 months and look at our priorities into 2013. We have been thinking a lot about what leadership of the young adult community might look like in future. Originally we thought one leader might take sole responsibility for our existing community in Alway, but now the way we think we are being led is to have a 'flat' team structure with various individuals taking on responsibility for the different fledgling forms of church that are developing.
The Bishop of Monmouth, Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS, says,
James has taken a lead in developing our pioneer ministry amongst young people in Newport. He is an outstanding candidate for ordination and will make a fine priest.