Friday 28 September 2012

The first 10 years...

It started with a bang. 10 years ago, we were in our new house, with several friends staying over, and getting ready for my ordination the next day. At midnight, a huge explosion sounded somewhere on the estate. The next day, as I walked round the corner to the entrance to St Christopher's, the cause of the noise was clear. A burnt out car stood in the car park, surrounded by melted tarmac and blackened bricks. When the Bishop arrived, the only place left for him to park his BMW was beside the shell of the former vehicle. The look on his face was a picture.

The Holmewood estate was my first testing ground as a deacon and then priest, and it was a wonderful time.  Yes, there was poverty, break ins, concrete blocks through the windows and many other adventures, but there was also true community spirit and generosity of hearts. I learnt so much from Rev Gordon Dey, the saintly vicar of Tong and Holmewood parish - the worship was warm and relevant. The church truly served the community, and the congregation modelled sacrificial discipleship.

From that first curacy, great fun followed, and my next seven years as city centre priest in Bradford was extraordinary. The formation of SoulSpace, a church based on the principles of liberation theology was a huge breakthrough in the fresh expressions movement. The people I worked with over those years inspired me and gave me great hope for the church and for humanity.

There have been disappointments, not least the failure amongst some in the church hierarchy to value the achievements of Desmond Tutu House. However, on the whole, I look back on the last ten years with real thankfulness that the church is in good shape, and the holy spirit continues to be at work in the world.

In the next 10 years - lets see the wider church recognise the love in Gay marriages; let us see Christians rise up against global injustices such as the gap between rich and poor and the wastefulness of the arms trade. Let people of faith lead the way in challenging environmental destruction. Lets see the churches embracing co-operatism rather than competition. I want to play my part in these and other struggles over the coming decade. How about you?

1 comment:

  1. Chris, you're a man of great principals and conviction and I love you for it. I agree with so much of what you stand for or as our friend Ruth says 'Chris is my conscience' (or something similar). If it wasn't for the whole 'believing in God thing' we'd be in complete agreement. Nevertheless I'm glad there are people like you around standing up for what is right - so keep up the good work and may the next ten years be just as inspirational!