Intrigued by pioneering and want some support?

By Emma Richardson – Pioneer Enabler Team Leader

Pioneering has become the new buzz word recently and we all find ourselves into trying new things or doing things differently. The covid-19 pandemic was the most recent invitation to us all needing to think differently and do differently. And we all I think did this without hesitation for the most part and adapted well and showed great resilience and creativity.

And now- we find ourselves a few years on- and are still being challenged to step into unknown territory as we now begin to explore what the landscape for churches looks like in Cumbria. We embrace the idea of a mixed ecology of church but many of us don’t quite know what that fully means, or how we can play our part within it all.

As we begin to think about what new expressions of church might look like, or revisit again how we engage with mission in an appropriate way to reach further into our communities, we might find having someone to talk to, having some stories to learn from or engaging with some resources/ tools and training is just what’s needed.

I’d like to introduce you to some people around the county who are there to support you with just this.

Need help? meet the pioneer enablers

I am Emma Richardson- the pioneer enabler team leader for the Northern Mission Centre here in Cumbria. The Northern Mission Centre supports individuals and churches in exploring and taking those next steps into contextual mission or developing a new group or developing a fresh expression. We do this by either meeting with you 1:1 or by connecting you with someone in your locality or to someone with a similar focus.

To find more about the NMC follow this link- Northern Mission Centre – God For All


We have a small team across the county as well as a wider group of practitioners who are also happy to support.

Let me introduce you to the team of pioneer enablers:

Paul Rose- Outdoor and Education pioneer enabler- County wide

Paul says- “A broad overview of my role is to ‘encourage people to explore their spirituality and the Christian faith through engaging with nature’. This means that if someone is thinking about, or already has, a gardening, walking, mountain climbing or anything in between group as part of their engagement with people in their church, schools and wider community, then I am available to support them. The support could be in the form of ready-made or co-created resources to use in your context, including outdoor prayer-spaces, well-being activities and creative conversation starters; advice around risk-assessments; coaching style conversations to help you get the best out of what you’re already doing. Some of the resources are already openly available via:”    Email Paul

Emma Richardson smiling photo
Emma Richardson
Paul Rose

Beth Honey- Local Neighbourhoods pioneer enabler with Restore- Penrith area.

Beth has a passion for intergenerational and inclusive worship – providing a welcome to those with additional needs and across different worship styles to begin new things together. She is gifted in being able to connect people through creativity and spirituality, with a significant emphasis on mental health awareness, and art for wellbeing.

Beth says, “Working with the social enterprise model to establish new wellbeing groups that are open to faith exploration and using a rhythm of gratitude, noticing, and every conversation matters, we have grown a community network around the shop where people feel at home whether they are occasional visitors or regular volunteers, or are part of our regular groups, ranging in age from 16-86. We have partnered with other community organisations and are becoming a signposting hub within Restore. Through training and enabling a team of volunteers we have created a welcoming space within Restore which has both safe boundaries and a welcome for all, regardless of faith, identity or background.”

f you have a spark of a new idea or would like some support in any of these areas or like to get involved with the work of Restore then get in touch.   Email Beth

Photo of Beth Honey
Beth Honey

Chris Harwood- New Monasticism pioneer enabler with Restore- Carlisle

Chris Harwood lives in a vicarage in Carlisle with his wife Emma, his daughter Ava and son Jake. They use their home as a hospitality house. Working with Restore, Chris runs a community shed, and community allotment as ways of engaging with people who struggle with mental health, addiction, loneliness and isolation. He likes to gather people around meals seeing them as opportunities to invite people into deeper relationships and conversations. He is inspired by New Monastic Communities and sees this as the journey they are on. He is keen to include others in the work of restore and the developing community there as well as supporting you to reach out in your area. Email Chris

Photo of Chris Harwood smiling
Chris Harwood

Captain Jeff Hill- Children and young families pioneer enabler- Maryport.

Friends it is good to join in the Cumbria diocese mission to let people know God is for all. As I begin a new role in West Cumbria as a pioneer enabler, I am praying that I will be alert to and make the most of opportunities to share with all how they can begin and continue in an adventure of following Jesus. These opportunities may result from involved in the already existing good work by Churches and pioneers or by listening to the community and God’s Spirit to see what new projects will help. In the past I have started lots of different ideas -several Messy Church style events., lots of creative ideas for Christmas and Easter, pancake celebrations, community pet events, street and school pastors, late night work, faith with spice curry nights, the list goes on. I suppose innovation has been one of the main gifts God has put in me, so that may be used again here. I look forward to listening to the community, my colleagues in the pioneer community who are one step ahead of me and to God to see what can emerge.

Opa Geibel – Young adults and families pioneer enabler- Barrow

Opa has a gift for connecting people together and being able to forge conversations with the right people at the right time. He has a heart for mental wellbeing and pastoral care and has been able to connect with charity leaders, town councillors, politicians, emergency services and large employers in his local area and begin exploring together what better wellbeing looks like across the board.  Opa is then good at filtering this back down to the local churches and supporting them in how to respond appropriately. Whether this is the BEWell Festival in Barrow, ‘Warm spots’ in many churches or kids clubs in schools.  Opa leads on a fresh Expression called Cameo in Barrow as well as holding Chaplaincy roles with various organisations.

When asked how he would describe himself he said, “I guess some of my strengths can be expressed in terms of ‘evangelistic gifting’, some networking skills, much encouragement and support for all kinds of people in the community and trying to listen to what the Spirit wants to do next.”

If you would like get in touch contact- Email Opa

Photo of Opa Geibel
Opa Geibel

Blog post by
Emma Richardson
Pioneer Enabler Team Leader
Email Emma