The Archbishop of Canterbury has officially launched The Order of the Black Sheep in Chesterfield. The Order, led by pioneer minister Mark Broomhead [known from Detritus, Seventh Angel, Fire Fly], is a fresh expression of church for those who feel like the black sheep of society.
Mark welcomed Rowan Williams to The Order’s church base, known as The Gates, during the Archbishop’s visit to the Diocese of Derby. The Order was made a Bishop’s Mission Order earlier this year when Mark was licensed as its full time minister by the Bishop of Derby, Alastair Redfern.
Extensive renovation work on the premises during the summer continued until just a few minutes before the Archbishop’s arrival. He toured the building, which includes a chapel, café/bar and media suite, and met many of the people involved in its development.
Speaking at the launch, the Archbishop said, Jesus took it for granted that if there was somebody around, that somebody was worth his company – and that’s how the Church started. Jesus’ company is whoever’s around and whoever’s prepared to spend time just wondering, listening to what he’s got to say to them. It’s as simple as that.
He said that was what The Gates and The Order of the Black Sheep was all about, It’s about letting people experience a bit of that company… in the sheer mysteriousness of this world you never quite know what’s going to happen, what’s going on, you never quite know what God’s got in store, there’s no real way of telling (the difference) between insiders and outsiders. Like all sheep are black in the dark, we struggle with the real darkness of experience sometimes. We’re all in the same boat.
Mark Broomhead, and his wife Sarah, said their serving of the alternative culture, to anyone who felt they didn’t fit in, was not alien to them. For us it’s a culture we understand, our ‘village’, said Mark, I’m like a village vicar really. It’s a different sort of community but, for us, it’s one we are very familiar with. We’re focusing on that community because we don’t feel it’s catered for elsewhere but we want to be inclusive to anyone who wants to be around. I really believe in the Anglican Church and I really believe in what’s going on through pioneer ministry and fresh expressions. In some ways it would be easier to try and break away and just get on with it but I think it’s really important to do things properly so there is accountability and people know we’re serious about what we’re doing; that it’s not a fad or an add-on, it’s a genuine expression of church.
The Gates will be open to the public from 21st October.
More information check their website.
Source: Fresh Expressions [Thanks Pete]