Stories from the Parish Magazine


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As a child of the 30s I was brought up in the Church of England. I believed in God - well... everybody did, didn't they?
It was as an adult in the 'real world' that the doubts crept in - sickness, pain, poverty, war. Where was God?
I struggled. I searched and eventually gave up - there was no God.
For the next 20 years I considered myself an agnostic. They were happy fulfilled years. And yet still there were those unanswered questions.
So one Sunday morning I walked into St Andrew's. There was no 'Road to Damascus' conversion but slowly, gently I began to find a new faith - deeper and more realistic - a faith that can accept and challenge doubt.
A faith that will continue to grow.

When my daughter was christened at St Andrew's in 1990 we were made extremely welcome by the vicar and the people of his church.
Once the christening was over I was approached by Eunice Norwood, who informed us that small children were welcome to be looked after at Sunday school while the parents attend the main service.
As I was brought up in a Christian family I was extremely keen for my own children to attend church and Sunday school.
Happily, this gave me the opportunity to attend church again myself. I was later confirmed and this was a very special day for both me and my family.
In previous years I had helped with the 3 o'clock services where the elderly were brought into church once a month for a service and I also helped with the servcices at the old Wembley hospital, which I really enjoyed.
I love coming to St Andrew's and am always willing to help in church.

As a small child I went with my mother to the 8am service nearly every Sunday and was taken back at 1pm for Sunday school, which I found so boring that I ran away a few times and got a jolly good telling off from mum.
As I grew older I enjoyed Sunday school more but at 12 the pull of the riding stables proved greater. Again, mum was not too happy but dad supported me as he came from a horsey background.
As a teenager I stopped going to church because I thought I knew it all and didn't need any outside help to cope with life.
When I came to London to do nursing I met my partner, a Roman Catholic and regular church-goer. I started going to church with him and realised that I had missed the services.
In 2001 he developed cancer and wanted time on his own at church so I stopped going. But in 2003 I tried St Andrew's and was welcomed warmly, and became a regular.
I have had no blinding moments of faith or special religious happenings but I do feel comfortable with my faith, although I question it regularly and have my doubts.
My best chats with God are while walking the dog. This is quality time and it's amazing what probems can be solved when you have real time to walk and think.
I hope I lead a decent and caring life but I can be just as guilty as the next person of having bad thoughts about others. I console myself by being aware of this and trying my best to alter it.
I enjoy my role at church and hope I bring something of value to St Andrews.

ST ANDREW'S was buzzing early in December when the Bishop of Willesden made his eagerly-awaited visit to the church as 11 people took part in a breath-taking baptism and confirmation ceremony.
What a day. Sylvia Wynne, 92 years young, was both baptised and confirmed, while Martin Hollaway re-affirmed his baptism by being fully submerged in a mini-swimming pool before also being confirmed.
Lisa Bradshaw, Nathan Brett, Christina Latham, Sasha Powell, Leah Powell, Jordan Scott, Jessica Doku, Marcus Alexander-Neil and Karen Wilson were the other confirmees.
The Bishop, the Right Rev'd Pete Broadbent, donned T-shirt and shorts to duck Martin under the water in a spectacular but poignant moment.
Said Martin: "I wanted to re-affirm what my parents and godparents said when I was baptised as a child. They promised to bring me up in a Christian household.
"But 18 months ago I was 'born again' and hence I was very keen to re-affirm my faith. There had never previously been a full immersion baptism at St Andrew's but it had happened at my previous church, St Luke's in Maidstone, so we decided to go ahead."
Prior to March 2007 Martin always had basic Christian beliefs based on morals and "what's right and wrong". But then his life changed for ever.
"I was suffering with stress at work, financial troubles, my second marriage was on the verge of breaking up," he explained. "I dropped my step-daughter off at brownies and went into the church, which was open.
"I was seeking peace and quiet but three people came and spoke to me. They were Mike, the director of youth at St Luke's, and Norma and Liz, and the three of them prayed for me. I felt a sense of calmness I'd not experienced for some time.
"I went on to do an Alpha course and even though my life got worse before it got better because my marriage broke up, I became jobless and homeless and ended up in hospital."
"But I'd asked for God to afford me peace and tranquility, and He truly helped.
"Then in November 2007 I was driving to Maidstone from Sudbury to sort things out that and everything clicked and suddenly fell into place on that beautiful autumn day. I recall the exact point, the time of day and where I was on the on M25."
"It was just as if a huge cloud of lead weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Ever since, despite the loss of material things, I have felt at ease and more comfortable with myself than ever before."
"I find the more I commit to the Christian faith, the more I am blessed."
"The confirmation classes made me consider my faith and beliefs even more so that God became an even bigger and better part of my life."

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