Take 300 churches, stir in 160 visiting team members, surround with prayer and infuse with the willing participation of scores of Christians from across Cumbria, and the result is Moving Mountains.
Over a weekend in March, around 500 events took place, 15,000 gospels were distributed and about 25,000 people connected with what was going on in one form or another across Cumbria. Finding its roots in the Northern Bishops’ Missions (which have been in Sheffield, Blackburn and Durham), what made the mission to Cumbria stand out was its ecumenical nature. 40 Senior Leaders (drawn from Methodist District Chairs, URD Moderators, Anglican Bishops and Salvation Army Divisional Commanders) came together to engage in a time of outreach, in obedience to Jesus prayer in John 17: ‘Father, may they be one as we are one, so that the world might know’. Unity with a purpose in a county where the ecumenical engagement is already making a significant difference to the way in which churches work together as part of the God for All initiative, so that everyone in Cumbria will have an opportunity to discover more of God and his purpose for their lives, so that they come to discover more of Jesus, and the good news and become followers of Jesus within a Christian Community.
Over the four days we saw a kaleidoscope of creative ideas, often flowing from what was already happening impact local communities, culminating in England’s largest every Messy Church, when 2000 people were drawn to the Rheged Centre, just outside Penrith, on Mothering Sunday. What was significant, however, during Moving Mountains, were the one-to-one conversations that took place in pubs, over soup lunches, at ceilidhs, on sofas in the centre of villages as people explored what it means to be followers of Jesus. Alongside those discussions, churches were encouraged in their own outreach – not least in seeing what happened in March as one piece of a much bigger jigsaw puzzle of ensuring that mission is an ongoing part of their lives, individually and as church communities. If Moving Mountains simply becomes an event that happened in March 2018, then it is of little value. If it becomes a movement, then it can have a significant impact. And most of the 300 or so churches that were involved have grasped that, and are looking ahead with renewed energy at ways in which they can ensure that outreach is a normative part of their lives in the months and years ahead.