MES is a year out intiative for 18s-30s. It provides the opportunity to explore calling whilst gaining experience of Christian ministry and developing leadership skills. It is free to do, with accommodation and living expenses provided. Local schemes are recruiting now for a September start. Visit www.cofe.io/mes for further infomation.
My name is Ian Grant-Funck, and I participated in the Ministry Experience Scheme (MES) through the Diocese of Liverpool’s Tsedaqah community from October 2020 and will finish in September 2022.
Tsedaqah House, is a missional community that promotes social justice and serves as MES’s home in Liverpool. I moved in in the autumn of 2020 and began work at Liverpool Parish Church (Our Lady and St. Nicholas), as well as with Micah Foodbank. My first year was both challenging and rewarding. England was in and out of lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the work of the church (and especially the food bank) didn't not stop. In fact, we were at our busiest in the spring of 2021 mid lockdown, when we were serving up to 550 people per week from just two drop-in locations in central Liverpool. I also began the formal discernment process in the Church of England, and to explore whether my call to ministry was to the Church of England. Vital to that process were the conversations I had with the many colleagues, mentors, and friends I connected with in my first MES year.
In my second MES year, I was able to expand my ministry to a second parish, St. Athanasius, Kirkdale, which offered a different liturgical tradition, new relationships to build, and a new community to explore. I also began work with Lauda, a project with the Romanian Roma community of South Liverpool.
Throughout I’ve been able to combine my two great interests: contemplation and action. I’ve prayed with and learned from some amazing people, and I’ve marshalled that spiritual energy into social justice. I’ve also solidified my call to ordained ministry, though I’ve decided that my call right now is to the Episcopal Church in the United States. Still, I cannot thank MES and the Church of England enough for the enormously rewarding experiences of the last two years, and I will carry the lessons of MES for the rest of my Christian life, in whatever country I find myself. To those wondering about participating in MES, let me just say that the programme helped me to grow personally, professionally, and spiritually. I found it was the most financially accessible of its peer programmes, and yet throughout my time with MES I always found its offerings to be robust, engaging, and informative. Overall, MES was transformative for me, and so I cannot recommend participation in it highly enough. Thank you very much for reading.