We are holding a conference in Southwark Diocese on Saturday 25 November called Towards a Mixed Ecology of Church in partnership with the Diocese of Chichester. The mixed ecology is one of the three priorities of the Church of England and a priority for the Diocese of Southwark. It is a call not to de-prioritise the parish but instead to help our parishes to thrive by reaching parts of it that they might traditionally have been weak in. A church where mixed ecology is the norm is where churches value not only their own tradition and are rooted in its worship but also embrace ideas of pioneering, fresh expressions or church planting to reach those who would otherwise not come to church.

Across the Diocese of Southwark we have such a variety of great parishes who are seeking to share the love of Christ with those around them in creative and innovative ways; digging into their tradition and looking to see how they can be “Christ centred and outward focused”.  What they often find, is that as they do this and consider their parish they see the needs of people and look to start to pioneer and reach those people and then form a Fresh Expression of Church to help people join a community of faith.

We do hope that you will be able to come to the conference and bring others with you to hear from others, learn, ask questions and share ideas. Bishop Christopher will be introducing the day and we will be having talks by Bishop Mike Harrison (who is the Bishops Advocate for Pioneering and Fresh Expressions) on a vision for the mixed ecology, Revd Dr Sharon Moughtin (a theologian and pioneer vicar of St Mary’s Eco Church) who will be speaking on growing a healthy mixed ecology community, and Canon Will Cookson, Director of Pioneering Ministry for the Diocese of Southwark who will be looking at where we go from here in a post-pandemic world.

Training for MissionWe are planning a wide range of seminars to help us engage with a mixed ecology. One stream is designed for those who would like to know more and not sure where to start. So, we will have a Getting Started seminar followed by Mustard Seed telling stories of pioneering and fresh expressions that are still at an early fragile stage to see how people came up with ideas and pursued them. We will have a stream on estates looking at some of the stories from around the Diocese of people who are seeking to make a real difference in their communities and also one on our new Estates Lay Pioneer pathway that we are launching in the autumn to start training in the new year. We have a seminar on reaching our ethno-linguistic communities in appropriate ways, how one church has reached children and young people using choir, Forest and Eco Church, Bubble Church and Playtime!, church grafts and reaching young people. We hope that this rich diversity helps to reflect the diversity of our parishes and contexts.

We do hope that you will sign up with a group of people from your church to explore how you can grow and mature what you already have or to think about where your passion and call are leading you.

“I am very much looking forward to taking part in this conference. We have seen the real fruit and blessing of fresh expressions and pioneering in the Diocese of Southwark and I highly commend this conference to all.”
The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark


“Pioneering and FX are vital ways God has been blessing our Church for over two decades now – so what better opportunity than this conference to see how this blessing can be embraced and empower communities and individuals in the way of Jesus?”
The Rt Revd Mike Harrison, Bishop’s Advocate for Pioneering and Fresh Expressions

To help you think about what your church might do we will be publishing a series of stories from churches who received small grants to start or restart a Fresh Expression of Church throughout the autumn and in the lead up to the conference. To follow the series on X (formerly known as Twitter) follow @SouthwarkCofE  or search for the hashtag #southwarkfxp23.