"I have especially relished the emphasis on the church’s transforming work in the community, particularly in areas of inner-city deprivation."
Over the past few years I’ve been wanting to explore and understand my faith further. As part of that I took a postgraduate degree in theology last year, and during that year I felt a calling to explore ordained ministry.
Having spoken with my college chaplain amongst others I began to see a vocations advisor, and it was actually my college chaplain who suggested I apply to the Stepney scheme. Thankfully, I was accepted, and I continue to feel very blessed that I was.
I can honestly say that I haven’t yet woken up with a sense of dread or reluctance to face the day ahead… even for the 7am morning prayer! And I think that is largely down to the huge variety of ministry that I have been enabled to experience and get involved with at Tollington. This has included youth work, children’s work, prison and school visits (school is more daunting!), and opportunities to lead and preach at Sunday services.
Alongside that, there’s been opportunity for theological study, at St Mellitus College, and with the Centre for Theology and Community. There’s also been vocational support through the Stepney Area Training Centre. This combination has made it a brilliant environment in which to test and explore my vocation.
One aspect of the scheme I have especially relished is its emphasis on the church’s transforming work in the community, particularly in areas of inner-city deprivation. Having moved from Cheshire, Somerset, Devon to Shropshire I am very much a country boy! So I feel that this experience of inner-city ministry is a very necessary one for any future involvement in ministry I may have.
Having studied Politics at undergraduate level, with a particular focus on social and global justice, and my long-standing interest in the intertwining of faith and politics, I’ve also been very eager to explore how effective the church can be at fostering and driving social justice in the local community.
My placement has enabled me to do that- with its involvement in youth outreach in the local community. Off the back of that I’ve been able to begin a study group aimed at ages 15 to 18 where we provide free-tutoring, exam preparation as well as university application and career advice.
Other aspects of outreach I have been involved in include: organizing our involvement with the CARIS cold-weather shelter, and how we can partner with the ‘Just Money’ campaign and the London Credit Union. These experiences have been a real encouragement and also provide a great insight into my understanding of the church’s ability to affect positive change in the communities it is drawn from.
So I am very grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of this scheme, as I continue to explore my vocation and to support the mission and ministry of the church in Tollington.