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Ian Mobsby is a writer, speaker and missioner. He is the Priest in Charge of the Guild Church of St Mary Aldermary in the City of London and missioner to the Moot Community. Mobsby has a background in the Emerging Church and in particular New Monasticism and as an associate missioner of the Fresh expression Initiative, which seeks to renew and revive the churches in the UK regarding contextual mission, engaging worship and being real forms of community.
Early life and education
Mobsby was born in the heady days of the late 1960s, with a rich family inheritance of atheism and socialism on his mother's side and science, the arts and banking on his father's side. At an early age he took to music in a strong way, which became a key motif to his life, particularly with the classical guitar and violin. He also had a deep love of nature and has described in his writing how this opened up the whole experience of spirituality in nature. After recovering from a long period of convalescence following orthopaedic operations requiring him to use a wheelchair, he trained for a BHSc (Hons) in occupational therapy at York St John University which was formally part of the University of Leeds at the time.
It was while studying in York that Mobsby became a committed Christian, largely through an alternative worship project then called Warehouse and now called Visions. He was also influenced by the Nine O'Clock Service in Sheffield. He made the leap from atheism to Christianity largely through the experience of Christian spiritual communities and a strong sense of God's mystical presence in the world. After returning to London for work at the end of his studies, he was one of the founders of a south London alternative worship community which was called the Epicentre Network and then based at St Mark's Battersea Rise. After ten years of innovative and creative approaches to reach the un-and-de-churched, this project ended as a parting of the waves as both the community and the host church were coming from completely different places regarding theology, ecclesiology and attitudes towards the wider church. Throughout the years of the Epicentre Network he was a lay minister giving a day a week of his time voluntarily and working the rest of the time as an occupational therapist. He became the acting head of the Occupational Therapy Service at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in Putney, London. At this time he was encouraged to discern a potential calling to the priesthood of the Church of England. After a lengthy discernment process it was confirmed that the church recognised his calling to pioneering and mission work as a Church of England priest and recommended training.
Vocation and ministry
Mobsby completed an MA in Pastoral Theology validated by Anglia Ruskin University and taught through the Cambridge University's Cambridge Theological Federation part-time whilst still working split between Occupational Therapy and working as a lay pioneer. At the end of training, he was released from the Southwark diocese to be involved in forming a new missional and fresh expression of church at the Church of England church called St Matthew's Westminster in the Diocese of London. He was ordained by the Bishop of London to serve a training title with St Matthew's, Westminster and the Moot Community. This was a rich time of discernment for Ian. In the second year of his curacy and work with Moot, Ian met with the new Archbishop's Missioner the then Revd Steven Croft (bishop) now Bp of Sheffield, where Ian was formally invited to become an Associate Missioner of the new Fresh Expressions initiative. At the same time Ian completed his MA research dissertation, Emerging and Fresh Expressions of Church, how are they authentically Church and Anglican?. This was published in 2006, with copies being sold and distributed widely around the Western Christian Churches. Ian was invited to play a part in the core team of the fresh expressions team, particularly linking to international initiatives for a few years. Since then he has led study days and training in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK and Europe.
More lately the Moot Community has become a New Monastic Community, drawing heavily on a contemplative and sacramental basis to the Christian faith which seeks to promote a focus on following Jesus and in particular live out the marks of mission in how the community lives. The Moot Community has become a leading new or neo-monastic community in the UK. In 2011 Ian was co-opted onto the Church of England's Advisory Council for the relations between Diocesan Bishops and Religious Communities to help this Anglican body discern a way forward to recognise New Monastic Communities as Acknowledged Religious Communities. These recommendations have now been published. In 2012 the Bishop of London gave his consent to allow the Moot Community and the Advisory Council to discern and support the Moot Community to be part of a New Monastic Acknowledged Religious Community, of which Moot will be a constituent part.
In 2011 the Archdeacon and Bishop of London invited the Moot Community to move to St Mary Aldermary Church in the City to be a base for the community, and to continue its missonal work with the de-and-unchurched as part of the mixed ecology of differing churches and traditions in the City of London. Ian was made Associate Priest in late 2011 and Priest in Charge in 2012. In this time Ian has supported the Moot Community to develop a new project called Host which offers hospitality, relational support and spiritual activities seeking to open up the Christian faith and spirituality to those who have no experience of it in the context of a designer and high quality café. A new week day food stalls market has been established to create a hub place in the City of London, along with a growing team of staff, volunteers and community participants seeking to make St Mary Aldermary a place for innovative worship, mission and community.
Mobsby continues to play a key part in Moot as a developing new monastic community, and hopes soon to support the community to explore setting up a housing co-operative, and new expressions of the community in other Diocese in the Church of England, and in different countries where there is interest and need. Ian hopes soon to begin a long-awaited study time to complete a PhD course of study at King's College London again looking at the anthropological needs and the missiological response to the needs of those who are unchurched and post-secular in their sensibilities. Ian continues to lecture and support missional initiatives around the world.
Mobsby has written and co-authored a number of books, and chapters in other edited books
Guidance on Church of England acknowledged religious communities
Ancient Faith Future Mission series
- Croft Steven, Mobsby Ian "Ancient Faith Future Mission: Fresh Expressions in the Sacramental Traditions", (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2008), (New York: Church House Publishing, 2009).
- Cray Graham, Mobsby Ian "Ancient Faith Future Mission: New Monasticism as Fresh Expressions of Church", (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2010).
- Cray Graham, Mobsby Ian, Kennedy Aaron "Ancient Faith Future Mission: Fresh Expressions and the Kingdom of God", (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2012).
Own research and writing
- Mobsby Ian Emerging and Fresh Expressions of Church. How are they Church and Anglican?", (London: Moot Community Publishing, 2006).
- Mobsby Ian God Unknown. The Trinity in contemporary spirituality and mission", (Norwich: Canterbury Press: 2012).
- Kennedy Aaron, Mobsby Ian "The Rhythm of Life, Virtues, Postures and Practices. A Proposal for the Moot Community", (London: Moot Community Publishing, 2008).
Chapters in our other books
- Mobsby Ian "New Monastic Community in a Time of Environmental Crisis" in Bolger K Ryan "The Gospel after Christendom", (USA:Baker Academic, 2012).
- Mobsby Ian "Seeking in the City?" in Walker Andrew Kennedy Aaron "Discovering the Spirit in the City", (London: Continuum, 2010).
Highlights of speaking and training
- Speaker at the Greenbelt Arts Festival – link between IT and Spirituality, 2006
- Trinity Wall Street, Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2007
- Lecturing at Fuller Seminary, Pasadena CA, 2007.
- The place of arts in mission and engaging with post-secular culture, Emergent Pittsburgh and the Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh 2007
- Doing Mission, Grace Cathedral, Episcopal Diocese of California, 2008
- Trinitarian Theology for Emerging Church & Mission, Portland Cathedral, Episcopal Diocese of Portland, 2008
- Training on Mission and the Emerging Church, Diocese of Chicago in the Episcopal Church of the USA, 2008
- Speaker at the Greenbelt Arts Festival – What the emerging church and the desert mothers & fathers have in common, 2008.
- Speaking on ABC National Radio Sydney Australia on Fresh Expressions and New Monasticism, Sydney Australia 2009
- Training sessions for the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle, and article in the local paper, Australia 2009
- Fresh Expressions and Mission Conference, Paddington Uniting Church, Sydney Australia 2009
- Training for the Diocese of Victoria and the City of Melbourne on mission, parish ministry, sacramental mission and engaging with unchurched spiritual seekers, Melbourne Australia, 2009
- Day on Engaging with Post Secular Spiritual Seekers at City Side Baptist Church, Auckland New Zealand, 2009
- Day on mission with training Baptist Ministers, Carey Theological College, Auckland, 2009
- Training Day at St Johns Anglican Church of New Zealand Training College, Auckland, 2009.
- Training with the Diocese of Waikato in Hamilton and the University of Waikato, South Island New Zealand 2009
- Diocese of London UK, The Challenge of Mission and Evangelism in the 21st Century, London 2010
- Society of Catholic Priests UK, The Challenge of Mission and Evangelism for Anglican Catholics in Bristol and Diocese of Rochester, 2010
- Speaker at Greenbelt Arts Festival – Seeing beyond the surface of the now, 2010
- Equiping Episcopalians for Mission, Boston Cathedral, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, 2011
- Lectures and training with the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA 2011.
- A Pioneering Spirit, Fresh Expressions Training Day, Diocese of Leicester, UK, 2011
- Greenbelt Arts Festival – Panel discussion on New Monasticism, 2011.
- Missional Training, St Aidans Church Episcopal Diocese of California, 2012
- Missional Training for the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, Detroit, 2012
- New Monasticism as small missional community, Diocese of Leicester, 2012
- Greenbelt Arts Festival – Panel discussion on New Monasticism, 2012
- New Monasticism and Small Missional Communities, Sheffield Cathedral, Missioners Conference, 2012
- Training on Fresh Expressions and New Monasticism for the Diocese of Toronto, Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, 2013