MA Mission Prize 2024 winner – Mthr Rachel Summers

This year’s winner is pioneer curate from north east London who has a passion for creating opportunities for people to play, explore, and connect with their local wild spaces.

This year’s winner of the 2024 CTE MA Mission Prize is Mthr Rachel Summers who wrote a thesis entitled Growing Faith: Ethiopian Church Forests and how they might inspire the theology, mission and praxis of churches in East London.

Rachel is a pioneer curate in the Church of England living in Walthamstow. She is a published author with books entitled Wild Lent and Wild Advent. She says her hands are never quite mud free! Rachel studied for her MA with the Church Mission Society (CMS). Dr James Butler was her tutor.

Rachel said: “I feel so fortunate to have been part of the MA programme at CMS, and am grateful for the challenge and support I was given by my tutors. I’m overjoyed that the panel enjoyed reading my dissertation, and am really looking forward to being helped to share it with a wider audience.”

One of the judges of this year’s prize the Rev Dr Israel Olofinjana, who is the director of Evangelical Alliance’s One People Commission, said: “Rachel’s work embodies an intercultural perspective in developing an eco-theology that embeds contextual thinking and practice. Of the shortlisted theses she was the clear winner for me.”

Fellow judge, Dr Marina Behera from the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies said: “Rachel’s thesis came as a surprise. Church Forests in Ethiopia in dialogue with church gardens in East London wasn’t a theme I was expecting! The thesis has a strong theological and methodological section and Rachel’s self-reflection is rigorous and at times very poetic. Rachel’s intercultural approach, bringing together Christians from different contexts, is an important aspect of an intercultural mission theology that does not simply talk about how to reach out to others.”

Rachel wins a cash prize of £100 and will now have the opportunity to work with the Ecclesial Futures journal of Radboud University Press in the Netherlands to have her thesis reshaped for publication in 2025.

Rachel’s MA is already available to read in the CTE Mission Research Library. The Mission Research Library established in 2020 has close to 130 MAs and PhDs on mission-related topics with a particular geographical focus on the UK and Ireland.

Rev Dr Benjamin Aldous, CTE’s Principal Officer for Mission and Evangelism and the prize’s administrator said: “It’s really good to see the growing range of MAs and PhDs in the repository we have created. It really should be a first port of call for those wanting to write and research on mission in the UK context.”

Follow Mthr Rachel Summers on X at @curiouswilds.

Read more about the CTE MA Mission Prize and its previous winners.