In pastoral Ministry we are called upon to feed the flock; to nurture the spiritual well-being of individuals and congregations. This is personally demanding and requires the maintenance and development of a Minister’s own life with God. Down the centuries and through to today many Ministers of all denominations have benefitted from sharing their inner journey with God with a skilled accompanier. We are, therefore, delighted that a small group of suitably trained and gifted Baptist men and women have come together to offer the ministry of spiritual accompaniment to ministers and leaders in the churches of the EMBA. A leaflet explaining this ministry and how to access it can be found here.
EMBA Associate - Stephen Ibbotson
EMBA has asked Stephen to become an Associate for Spirituality in our region. One of his key emphases through his 40 years of ministry has been that we are not human in order to become spiritual, but we are spiritual in order to become human. He has ministered with the conviction that Christian spirituality must be about human flourishing or it is nothing, and that it is able to hold and offer insight into the whole of our human experience.
Having spent much of his early ministry focused on renewal, mission and growth through church planting in culturally relevant congregations, Stephen in a demanding period of ministry thought, ‘There must be a better way of ministry than this!’ Without abandoning any of his mission concerns, he found someone to accompany him in his journey with God. He began exploring that vast landscape of spiritual wisdom of Christians from many generations and traditions walking the way of Christ, many of which he had been cut off from by the twists and turns of church history. Through an Ignatian spiritual companion he found this tradition, with its emphasis of ‘contemplation in the midst of action’, particularly helpful personally and relevant within a mission focused culture. Together with his wife, Helena, who had been exploring contemplative prayer for some time, they began to share this wisdom through leading retreats.
In retirement Mike Fegredo asked Stephen to develop and coordinate our own Association initiative of spiritual accompaniment, and through this we are seeing an increasing number of ministers, leaders and members seeking spiritual accompaniment, through a team of trained and supervised companions. Amongst things being considered for future developments through the team of companions are the following: further retreats and quiet days, spiritual pilgrimages, day workshops, teaching programmes as well as consultation for personal spiritual growth or within church life.
Spirituality is resurgent throughout society these days. It’s telling that while people may not consider traditional Christian churches as having something to offer in this area, spirituality books of other traditions multiply, while spiritual programmes, retreats, therapies, self-improvement and mindfulness strategies, with a strong spiritual content, are spawning everywhere. All this indicates we need to explore our own vast and rich Christian tradition with its wisdom of spirituality. If ever our churches needed to have spirituality in their ‘shop-window’, it is now.
Email Stephen or phone 079720 83369.