It goes without saying how touched I have been over the past couple of months by the congratulations and good wishes that I’ve received as I prepare to take up the post of Stepwise Programme Manager for the United Reformed Church.
To give you a better idea about what it is I am moving on to I thought I would use this opportunity to say a little more about Stepwise and the role I will be undertaking from the 1st October.
Stepwise is the name given to the new discipleship development programme being launched by the URC this Autumn. It is the successor to TLS (Training for Learning and Serving), which has been used by the denomination since 1995 with over 900 participants since its launch. Stepwise seeks to build on this, recognising the many changes in the church, in the world of learning and technology, and in society in general that have taken place over the past 20 years.
Stepwise falls under the ‘Walking the Way’ umbrella as the URC seeks to encourage lifelong Christian discipleship and mission, so its purpose is broader than just being a course to train people to be lay preachers or for other church-based roles. Its aim is to enable people to start where they are, and through a programme of individual and group learning, mentoring and reflective practice help them to grow in faith and discipleship. Stepwise will be comprised of a variety of subject streams, with the introductory launch stream called Faith Filled Life. This will focus on personal calling and vocation and will take about 3 months to complete. There is a hope that some people from our North Wales churches might be part of a pilot beginning later in the year. If that is something that interests you then I would be delighted to hear from you!
The role of Programme Manager for Stepwise, is, as you might imagine, fairly self-explanatory. It is to advocate, organise and oversee the whole programme as parts of it become available and other aspects are still under development. I’m sure it will involve lots of travelling and plenty of meetings, but also consultation with groups and individuals who are working on the creation of the Stepwise material (online and offline). It will also be to encourage and support those who are interested in becoming Stepwise participants, mentors and group facilitators. It is quite a daunting challenge but I am sure that once I get started things will become clear.
One thing I do know is that my role will be significantly different from being a minister in a local church and this is something that I am sure I will miss. I hope that the skills and experience I have gained to this point will be good preparation for the future. I also know that I will be upheld by your prayers as I begin this new phase of ministry.