Monday, 11 April 2011

A day out to remember

Working in a church can sometimes provide an opportunity to do some very interesting things, when you’re not knee deep in notice sheets that is. I am starting to hate notice sheets with a level of intensity I never though possible. It’s quite remarkable. But anyway - I digress…..

Sometimes working in a church can be very interesting indeed for the range of people you encounter, and if you take the bull by the horns, the number of different people you can get to know. I have recently taken to inviting myself out to shadow people in the church whose work I find interesting, partly to escape from notice sheets and partly to see what makes these people tick. So today I spent the morning with the Minister for the Homeless in Oxford, who also happens to be an Associate Priest at the church I work at.

It was a great and eye opening morning as we trudged around the back streets of Oxford’s city centre meeting people, hearing their stories and seeing how among this city of prosperity and promise there can be such crippling poverty.  And frighteningly, it looks like we will have a lot more of this to deal with over the coming years as the cuts hit the poor hard. One of the strangest sights was a homeless drop in centre opposite the Oxford Students Union. I wonder if these future Prime Ministers look across the road and see the other end of society and what they think? And if they remember them when they get to the top?

I’m a strong believer in doing what you feel called to do, and if we all did that then the world would be a better place.  It is great to spend time with someone who is doing that, they have a certain peace about them no matter how hard the work. The mark of being in your calling seems to be that the person truly loves what they are doing even though to someone else (i.e. me!) it seems like the hardest thing in the world.  I also think that just because we don’t fell called to work with a particular sector of society it doesn’t mean we can ignore them. It was good to learn the Big Issue seller’s name and to know what our council does and doesn’t offer for the homeless in our city. It just feels like a more humane way to be. 

Meanwhile I feel even more encouraged to pursue the things that make me tick and that, as I suspected, there is indeed more to life than notice sheets.


  1. LOL! Of course there is, Nicola, though they have their (very small) place.

    Before I transferred from NSM to stipendiary ministry, one of the ways I garnered some different experience was to shadow the Vicar of one of the big East Oxford churches for a couple of weeks. I remember visisting The Porch, the drop-in centre for the homeless, run by the All Saints sisters. Later, when I was a House for Duty priest in a big group of rural parishes in north Oxfordshire, we had a strong and supportive connection with the Oxford hostel for the homeless (I forget its title but it's just had new premises) Wonderful work and one the churches will need to support even more now.

  2. Ha ha! Yes, my husband just read this and said I clearly have a worrying preoccupation with notice sheets! :)

    There is so much good work going on here, and really innovative projects too. But yes, it is worrying that homelessness is likely to rise so our awareness def needs to rise with it.

  3. Hi Nicola, that sounds like a fab ministry that your church is involved in. Spotted the Ad for your new vicar yesterday :)

  4. Ah yes! It's part exciting/part terrifying waiting for the new vicar! I really hope they are nice!!