We are delighted to announce that PMC has been awarded a grant of £24,000 over 2 years from the Aldhelm Mission Fund for the ‘Breathing Spaces’ project. Building on the experience from the Space for Life community ‘Breathing Spaces’ will develop and train others in the use of contemplation, quiet spaces and spiritual direction as a means of missional engagement with unchurched people.
Since starting in 2011 as a result of 2 people offering their interest in textile art as a way of engaging with people, Space for Life is now a community of 25 women who meet weekly in a café in central Poole. The gathering is a wonderful expression of loving, hospitable community centred around a shared interest and a simple time of quiet Biblical reflection lead by the host team. This combination of inclusive community and resources from the Christian tradition has brought transformation to many of the women who go and, for some, a route into faith.
In particular Space for Life has been a place of healing and wholeness for many suffering including a significant number with mental health issues some of whom have been referred to the community by local support workers.
The impact and transformative effect of this Christ-centred community is evident from these testimonies from some of the participants;
“Space for Life has enabled me to be part of a normal, healthy community where I’m treated equally.”
“……friendship, security, a safe place to be, unique, I’ve never belonged to a group like it – it feels like an extension of a family.”
“Every week I go home from Space for Life feeling so much happier and peaceful inside.”
“In this day and age when community is so fragmented, this helps rebuild community which is so important.”
” Space for Life has rekindled my relationship with God – it was already there but it has made it more of a daily relationship.”
“It has actually saved my life.”
The vision of Breathing Spaces is to develop the learnings from the experience of Space for Life and make them more widely available. In particular, this will involve further developing the use of quiet days and retreats, spiritual direction and contemplative prayer and offering the values and experience of Space for Life as an example to others involved in mission to their local community.
Breathing Spaces has been endorsed by a number of local church leaders;
“There has been fruit already, but there is more fruit ahead. I believe that Space for Life, the creation of oases for quiet reflection, and the development of using spiritual direction as a mission tool are exciting new avenues for sharing the good news effectively in our generation.” (Rev’d Jean de Garis, Area Dean of Poole and North Bournemouth)
“Nationally there is a great deal of interest in new models of contemplative ministry and mission. Much of the emerging church/ fresh expressions movement is rooted in spirituality, rule of life, and contemplative prayer…This proposal is an extraordinary opportunity for us in this Diocese to build on the work which has already developed in Poole…it is an opportunity for us to continue to lead the way in developing new models of mission and ministry, based on the hunger for stillness, meditation and mindfulness in our society. Indeed, we ignore this at our peril.” (Rev’d Ian Cowley, Director of Spirituality, Diocese of Salisbury)
The first year of the project will focus on developing good practise and focus on piloting initiatives in the Poole area. The second year will involve more delivery of training to those wishing to explore starting similar ventures.
For more information or to explore how ‘Breathing Spaces’ could help you in your local mission do get in touch with Emily Bradbury, leader of Space for Life and Breathing Spaces: firstname.lastname@example.org