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Students on a mission

learning the dynamics of urban ministries

Newbold’s One Year in Mission and Service students attended their first ‘ADRA & TED Workshop’ with Pastor Max McKenzie-Cook, Newbold alumnus and Community Ministries Director at the South England Conference, on Tuesday 1 February.

Pastor McKenzie-Cook began his workshop on urban ministries by exploring definitions of ‘the city’ and ‘urbanisation’ and discussed the essential principles of urban ministry, quoting a recent United Nations report, stating that 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban spaces in 2050.

“The dominant view of cities, in general, tends to be negative. We, as a church, haven’t escaped this as a point,” explained Pastor McKenzie-Cook. “Historically, we read the book Country Living by Ellen White and see strong themes around leaving the cities, but this is a collection of quotes that focuses on one aspect of Christian living.

“We often leave out quotes, for example, where Ellen White encourages people like John Andrews to go into New York to do Bible studies with people in their apartments.

“The anti-urban view means the attention to urban spaces doesn’t get the priority it needs because we view them as places to step away from rather than go into as a mission field. When we talk about ministry and mission, we must go where the people are.

“If people are in urban spaces, it is important to understand the dynamics of living in those spaces in terms of mission and the way you want to do ministry.”

After discussing concepts on what defines a city and urban lifestyles, the students analysed negative perceptions of cities and emersed themselves in group activities. They were tasked with finding creative approaches to resolve common issues when working in urban environments.

Pastor McKenzie-Cook called on the students to “step back and take a birds-eye view of urban spaces”. “Yes, it has challenges, but it also has beauty and potential,” he said. “So, we must ask ourselves: How does God want us to operate as missionaries in those fields?”

As part of their practical preparation for ministry, all One Year in Mission and Service students attend workshops run by experienced field workers. They are now looking forward to more engaging workshops on Peace and Conflict, Social Capital, Water and Sanitation, and Health and Wellbeing.