ASMA Ventures into new territory

First published 1st November 2019

Stimulated by the Avonside Mission Area, members of St Marys Stoke Bishop, St Marys Shirehampton, St Edyths Sea Mills, St Peters Lawrence Weston and St Andrews Avonmouth have all been encouraged to form missional communities, finding ways in which to connect with one another and the world in which we live.One of those missional communities has as its focus, Living Well.

With living well in mind, members of the group have tried to offer a Christ-centred perspective on the growing interest in Mindfulness in the secular world.

Rev Hazel Trapnell partnered with Rev Ian Bailey to lead a Happiness course at St Marys, Shirehampton earlier in the year.This led to the suggestion that, together, they create and run an 8 week course at St Marys, Stoke Bishop, exploring Mindfulness in a Christian Context. What is mindfulness and how do we practise it?Is mindfulness OK for Christians? What do Christians already have to offer from their contemplative tradition?How is the secular world challenging us to remember what we already have and to practise it?How do we relate to our many friends, family and acquaintances who have dipped into Mindfulness?The course in this instance was designed to deepen Christian discipleship.

There were usually 12 people in each session from a wide range of ages and backgrounds people from churches in the mission area and an attendee with no church affiliation.There was some very positive feedback at the end of the course, and new friendships and relationships were formed.

Subsequently, an afternoon and evening retreat, entitled Soulfulness, was planned. Soulfulness is about living a full God-enriched life, a life of being resourced by, and in turn enriching, the world around us.Broadcaster and retreat leader Brian Draper led the retreat, based on his book on the subject. A wide range of participants was attracted from across the mission area: both enthusiasts and sceptics of all ages, including some students from nearby Trinity College.One commented, it was wonderful.Rebecca from St Edyths was able to see the benefits of applying this to the newly formed missional community Mental Awareness.

Hazel commented, In both these ventures, new ground. It was a very valuable and hopefully, life-changing and enhancing time. Look out for future courses across the Avonside Mission Area.

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