Invisible … 

  Following from my last post … I am out … The view proves it with the sun shining in through the coffee shop window and the Canary Wharf buildings looking very bright and shiny. 

There is a wide mix of people here; building contractors, people collecting coffee on the way to the tube, some popping in for early lunch, and just a couple loitering with a friend. I think I am the oldest he by a good 10/15 years …. 

I’m blogging ‘live’ in situ because I can and I never really have before. If I was to record my feelings I guess I feel nervous, a little out of place at the moment and maybe generally invisible. Some people have spied the dog collar and after a sneaky look as determined to make no eye contact. The staff, though, have been welcoming. I feel a little out of place but not in the wrong place. People are not used to seeing priests around in the community just drinking coffee …. I hope as I become more established here that I will be able to serve these people in some way. 

As I write I suddenly feel a little ‘better’ as I am watching a coup,e in their 70’s cross the road with their dog. I am clearly not the only one around born before the 80’s! 

This is a place that I clearly need to hang around more in. This is at the centre of the community and seems to be a place where people are happy to be. As time goes on I hope I will start to understand this community and how we can serve it more. 

just go!

goSo … more days have passed.
Nothing much has changed.
A few more meetings.
A few more discussions.

I am frustrated that I still have not been able to get out to be with people in ‘my parish’ yet.
This has been partly a work thing … as in needing to respond to messages and think through chaplaincy stuff and create presentations for services …. but, sadly, I also have a confession!

I haven’t yet been out to rub shoulders and meet with people in the coffee shop or pub because I have been scared!

Rob … the person who loves to wind up, to cause change, to go into new places … Rob the pioneer, the one that has always challenged colleagues to get out from their study’s has been too scared to go and sit in a new place and introduce himself to whoever may be out there and has, himself, hidden behind his desk and stared at the Thames Barrier!

I’ve reflected, Examened, and remembered it was always like this in those early days. Back in Rochester I walked past Wetherspoons quite a few times before I had the courage to walk in. In Gillingham I actually walked past the door of the Dog and Bone 5 weeks ina  row before I was able to step inside. I thought it was scarey …. weird as I now consider it a second home and a place I can go to simply be me.

But while I acknowledge that this is a natural process and a fairly healthy place to be it still concerns me that I am still not with the people that I believe God called me here to be with.  I’m remembering that this early stage of starting something new is quite a hard place to be. In addition, the reality of just a three year contract causes me to put pressure on myself to be needing to formulate something, to develop something that is relevant and real for this community. but … I cant do that until I have a better idea of who this community is and what their values are.

So … I continue … to pray … to look … and to wait.
Tomorrow I will try, again, to go out …. and to meet …
Prayers out there … just keep doing it
and me?
I will try to just go!
I will report back soon …

so … watcha been doin?

rainbow over greenwichSo I am living on the Greenwich Peninsula. I took the rainbow pic a couple of days after moving in … when looking for gold but someone beat me to it!)

Lots has been written about the development here. It looks a great place to live but for some it seems to come at some cost either financially or socially as outlined in the Guardian article.

Holy Trinity Church has been meeting on the Peninsula for a few years. The small community are passionate about engaging with our community and my role will be to get us all to think about how we might do that. I have a three year contract so time is short … although the task is massive!

For the last few weeks I have immersed myself in the three schools and endless amounts of church meetings. I have needed to quite quickly get a handle on how the team works and the best way to do this has been to be at everything and meet as many of the people connected with the East Greenwich team as possible.

The downside of this is that, after 3 weeks, I find myself low on inspiration and high on frustration as I have not had a chance to be in public spaces where I can meet the people of this community or spend proper quality time with the Holy Trinity community.  Next week I hope that will start to change as I carve out time to be present in public spaces and hear the visions and dreams of those I work with in HT. It’s only as I meet people that I can start to hear how we can engage and support meaningfully and relevantly.

The job is big! All jobs are big! As well as meeting people I need to work on the website, meet councillors, engage with the residents association (I’ve already been to 2 meetings!) and generally meet loads of people that know this area far more than me … which, actually, is not that difficult at the moment. Alongside this, if you have been a reader or know me for a while, you will now that I believe God works through us being present in everyday stuff, I will be seeking to be available in parts of the community where people hang out … at the moment I have identified a few places and I’ll have to see what happens.

In one sense I feel I am starting all over again for the third time … and in a way that is true … but I am starting again with the learning from the two other starts which I hope is going to feed me during this early stage. I feel energised and motivated … which is good for the start of a new role!

So … friends … please keep praying … and chatting … and being your wonderful selves!

9 months ….

The last time I blogged was 9 months ago.
Christmas Eve.
So today, the 24th of the 9th, seemed to me to be  good day to start here again.

9 months as a time of incubation.
9 months as a time of contemplation.
9 months of space

9 months gone in a flash.
but a habit of ‘no writing’
has seemed to set quite fast

IMG_0020In the last 9 months I have moved, started a new role in a new diocese, and feel excited with a new challenge ahead of me. I also feel quite privileged to be part of a diverse and great team and live in an awesome ‘vicarage’ flat in the Greenwich Millennium Village with the photo being the view from my study desk.

I am team vicar of Holy Trinity Greenwich Peninsula which is part of the East Greenwich Team Ministry and the Chaplain for the Koinonia Federation of Christ Church and St. Mary Magdalene CE Schools. Try saying that after a few rums!

So … my role is to establish chaplaincy in the schools and to grow ‘church’ with the community of Holy Trinity here on the Greenwich Peninsula …. that bit with the O2 dome at the end of it! The area is constantly changing and the constant challenge will be how we serve a diverse growing and hidden population. (I live in an apartment block and have only seen 3 other residents in the 4 weeks I have been here!) An exciting thing, though, is that the bishop is encouraging us to create … so create we will!

I don’t have a lot more to add at the moment apart from feeling amazingly welcomed and loved by both the church and school communities …. so if any of my ‘new’ friends are reading … thank you! … I can honestly say I think I am going to like living here!

As in the past I will blog my story …. so I guess … if you are interested … watch this space!

God … with us



disquiet beauty

I attended a stunning exhibition last night.
Disquiet Beautybrings together the work of four artists who all explore notions of beauty and alienation, attraction and repulsion and the otherworldly in their use of materials and form‘.

10421289_10152560675709818_7275683706225052838_nTessa Farmer’s fairy sculptures were amazing to see … and you could not help but smile at the antics of these superbly created beings. They are a real highlight of the exhibition.

The particular highlight for me, though, was 10698426_10152291338312531_7730716856270076618_nPersephone, sculptured by good friend Zara Carpenter. The gathering went to see Persephone when she was being exhibited in Whitstable. I’d forgotten how amazing this sculpture is. It is easy to stand for hours and discover something new minute by minute.

There is something very alluring in this exhibition that pulls on a possible relationship between beauty and mortality … the desire to leave an impression and not be forgotten. I both inwardly smiled and was mildly disturbed in some measure by the paradox of beauty and death adjacent to each other.

So …. if you are in Rochester pop into the visitors centre to see this beautiful exhibition …. actually go out of your way to see it !

Thank you Zara ….. your time and amazing effort and curating this collection have given us all a little bit of joy!

mission talk

missionI kind of unexpectedly enjoyed my experience of lecturing at SEITE last night. I say unexpectedly because I cannot remember the last time I was so nervous before I did anything. I suspect the last time was deaconing for the Archbishop in Coventry less then three months after being ordained … with 10 mins notice … name dropping I know … but last night felt just as scary.

Lecturing is probably an over-elaborate term for what was, in reality, a long conversation about mission. But … then I believe the best way of learning is to listen and pull things apart together.

I enjoyed working with my group last night. The people come from a variety of backgrounds, but when we spoke about hopes for this module there was quite a strong vein of thought that people wanted tools to increase their confidence enabling to engage with their community in a more meaningful way. I can work with people like that!

Last night we talked about mission. We argued about what mission is. We asked ourselves whether we were being influenced by a background of a redemptive or an incarnational model of theology. We mused over which parts of our culture we should encourage and which parts we should challenge. Essentially, we asked ‘what does it mean to be a Christian?’ …. and we could not agree … on any of the above really!

That encourages me … as a reflective practitioner who a lot of the time uses a synthetic model of theology to underpin his work … it is important to me that we realise that a lot of stuff is not so much a choice of ‘either or’, but more of an acceptance of ‘both and’ as we look at our response in different situations.

Looking forward to taking the conversation on next week.