Doctoral Student Profile: Revd Benjamin Aldous
Revd Benjamin Aldous
Fresh Expressions of Church is a growing mission shaped response to the decline of mainline churches in the West. Academic reflection on the Fresh Expressions movement in the UK and the global North has begun to flourish. No such reflection, of any scope, exists in the South African context. This research asks if the Fresh Expressions of Church movement is an appropriate response to decline and church planting initiatives in the Anglican Church in South Africa. It also seeks to ask what an authentic contextual Fresh Expression of Church might look like. Are existing Fresh Expression of Church authentic responses to church planting in a postcolonial and post-Apartheid terrain?
Following the work of the ecclesiology and ethnography network the author presents an ethnographic study of The Community Supper at St Peter’s Mowbray, Cape Town. The author undertook in depth, immersive observation and semi structured interviews in order to seek out the lived, concrete and messy experiences of a Fresh Expressions of Church in its 7th year of existence. In this data collection process the idea was to uncover and unearth the experiences of the community growing out of ecclesial liminality into something more mature and sustainable.
The results reveal a community living with a sense of ecclesial ‘grace’. The work traces the organic development of the Supper in relation to the questions about Anglican ecclesiology. This ecclesial ‘grace’ allows for a diverse body of people to gather together once a week and eat a meal followed by a simple eucharist. The results reveal a community practicing being human together, corroding the toxic divides of Apartheid and genuinely performing the faith free from religious acquiescence. The results also reveal, at times, the power of eating together, sharing a meal and being a place of welcome and hospitality.
I’m primarily a missiologist learning to be a practical theologian. I’m influenced by Swinton and Mowatt, Ward, Healey, Moynagh, Vanier, Biko, Tutu and Saayman. Having lived and worked in Cambodia and South Africa for 15 years I have recently return to the UK.