Erika Biscoe

Rowan Williams said,’ There is no one way of being a priest.’ I think this is true in understanding the breadth and diversity of a mixed economy of traditional and fresh expressions of church and what I also appreciate is that my calling encapsulates knowing and appreciating this. Belonging to two communities helped me in this process. CMS stretched me in my pioneering thinking, risk taking and having the courage not only to dream my dreams but to put them into practice. It was inspiring to learn from practitioners that had that heart beat – true Pioneers in their own right. Cuddesdon brought the safety net and helped me keep my feet on the ground. Enriching my learning with tradition and history and although the two communities in many ways were two opposite ends of the spectrum it has helped me to become the priest I am today. My calling to Pioneer has often been a lonely road and a frustrating one of not feeling understood. It is what Jonny Baker calls the gift of not fitting in, however I feel the tension between fresh expressions of church and inherited church is softening.

Following a career in retail management, I trained as a nail technician. The dream of pursuing a ministry around a manicure table emerged while I was helping to lead Kidz Church in Heyford. The girls would eagerly queue up at the end of the session and ask for their nails to be painted, and it wasn’t long before parents were joining the queue too.

Once on the Ordained Pioneer Ministry course, I had a moment of breakthrough during a session on missional entrepreneurship. We were encouraged to write down, doodle or draw out our ideas and stories. An idea for pioneering a course for young people started to crystallize in my mind and spirit.

While doing manicures, I connected with many young people with low self-esteem who talked about things like self-harming and having suicidal thoughts. Wanting to go deeper than just doing their nails, I decided to develop a six-week course for teenagers that combined the practical skills of learning how to do a manicure with spiritual teaching from the book of Esther. My course, Cherish Made for Such a Time as This, was born.

I have piloted Cherish with a group of young people. In between learning how to do manicures, the participants have looked at verses from Esther and been able to talk about life issues. In the process each has found renewed confidence and her own voice.

In the future, I hope to get a Volkswagen camper van to take manicure ministry into communities where there is currently no missionary outreach taking place.