Today Sally and I went to an ordination. Nothing unusual there you might say, how many people do they know training for ministry?! The wonderful thing about today was that both Andi and Ivor were qualified youth workers from Aston, Birmingham, where I served my curacy. Also one of them was a young person who, to their admission, had a difficult childhood and adolescence.
So how might this have come about? As both of them said it was because they were a part of a supportive empowering community that encouraged them to grow, to develop their skills and encouraging them to explore where it was God was calling them to serve at the time and next. Most of us have benefitted from someone seeing beyond our surface awkwardness and roar bluntness in my case, to what we could become in God. As part of my celebrations for my 50th birthday I wrote letters to some of the people who were that for me to thank them.
This is what Andi wrote: I encountered the church through its active involvement in the community of Aston. The church’s response to my questions and hurt allowed me to look at my life and the dark path I was headed for. Many of the amazing people, most from the church in Aston, who played a part in my change of heart are here today. Without these Christ-centred people who have encouraged and supported me in love I would never have studied for a youth work qualification, the first step to where I am today – facing the church again, only this time from the inside.
There were so many proud people there today with tears in their eyes as they saw this next step in both Andi and Ivor’s journey.
To paraphrase – it takes a church to raise a deacon!