I remember a rather gloomy old Vicar in the north east of England where I was a curate, offering me advice from time to time. Amidst the many gems, all of which I ignored, was this: “Never start anything new – it’ll never work!” Perhaps it won’t come as a surprise that his neighbouring parish was a small, faithful and rather patient congregation! I admired his outspokenness and resistance to give way to any trends or pressures to innovate.
Not so here at St. Mary’s, Temple Balsall (www.leveson.org.uk) where last Tuesday night nearly fifty people crammed them into our Old Hall for a new initiative called ‘Food for Thought’. The idea is that, a parishioner comes to an evening where there is a simple supper followed by a speaker and conversation – but they are only allowed to come if they bring someone who doesn’t usually come to church or is connected with the community.
Well, there were one or two people who ignored my directive, but on the whole most people found someone and brought them along.
We had a delicious bite to eat with homemade bread and then a talk from Liz Morrey. Liz talked about her voluntary work with the Terrence Higgins’ Trust amongst street sex workers in a neighbouring city. She spoke with care, wisdom and real compassion. I was quite amazed at the way in which my rather conservative group of parishioners engaged with sex, drugs and rock and roll with such ease. Perhaps there is something they are not telling me!
A good format and a good evening and I hope that we can build upon it. And thanks to Liz for such an excellent talk. No hostages were allowed to be given over to fortune – and she spoke her mind with real strength and humour.