My faith journey started at Sunday School in Blackpool. When I moved to secondary school, I joined the Inter-Schools Christian Fellowship and I attended a broadcast of a Billy Graham rally with them which made a great impression on me. However my subsequent church attendance was intermittent and I found the Morning Prayer service a little stuffy.
When I married and had a family, I took the children to Sunday School and started to attend church myself and eventually, when I was 36 years old, my daughter and I were confirmed at the same service. Unfortunately my marriage ran into difficulties and I divorced.
Shortly after that I met Stuart. Our Christian faith brought us together and continues to sustain us. We were married in 2000. Stuart and I moved to Kendal in October 2006 to get to know the area and the people before we retired. Two days before we moved I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was a big shock and it seemed as though it was the worst time to be moving away from friends and family.
However, during my treatment over the following months, we felt supported by the people we had met at Holy Trinity. During a Lent course, I moved a further step in my Christian journey, realising that death was no longer to be feared as I felt God’s presence strongly in my life. Indeed, at a healing service in church later that year, I felt a physical reaction to the laying on of hands and I believe that the cancer has gone.
Over the last 4/5 years, I have moved on in my journey in a practical way through helping with church duties such as flower arranging, a term as sidesperson and latterly as a member of the PCC. I also found great spiritual support when I sang with the Lakes Gospel Choir. My journey goes on. I have a lot to learn but I travel forward in the knowledge of God’s love.
After moving to Kendal from another part of the country due to meeting my now wife she told me about this peaceful magical building in Kendal.
She told me she attended every Sunday and invited me along. I was introduced to the parish church. The last time I attended a church was at my father’s funeral. Before that I was a choir boy (yes, you read that correct, a choir boy)!
To say I was taken aback by the size and beauty of the building is a very big understatement! On entering I found myself overwhelmed by it all as I sat through the Sunday morning service. I actually turned to my wife and said, “Are you sure this isn’t a cathedral?” After the service I was welcomed by Rob, who asked no questions but welcomed me like I had been many times. As months went by, I have become a church team member, being involved with lots of things from sound to helping with the Dementia Tea Service, even to the point of Rob agreeing to marrying us in the church (boy, was that a scary but excellent day). The pinnacle point of my change came at Christmas when I turned to my wife and said, “It get it now.” To which she smiled and replied, “I knew you would!” I enjoy being part of the Kendal church family immensely, attending whenever I can.
I can honestly say that coming to Kendal, meeting my wife and attending church is the best part of my life to date.
My early memories are of learning BCP collects for homework, singing hymns at school and in church and my young brother’s baptism by my father’s school friend. He was a vicar and often visited. We attended Matins as a family but whenever it happened to be Holy Communion we were marched out after the sermon.
God was ‘mighty and to be praised.’ I reckoned He resided somewhere up above the altar in every church and as churches are very old so God must be too!
When I was 12 I was permitted to go forward for confirmation. I felt as if the bishop gave me the Holy Spirit and it allowed me ever after to make my own choices about church and life. As a schoolgirl in the still quiet of evensong and the cool air of morning communion I regularly gave time to God.
But after graduation I threw away what I thought were childhood things and there was serious backsliding – I spent weekends on the fells and I was learning to trust my own abilities.
Restoration came when I was preparing to be married with the serious commitment of making vows before God and wedding guests. The next challenge was bringing up our son alone when my husband went to work abroad. I learnt how to relate to God and others in different ways.
Later the church provided opportunities for action and learning. Meditation was an important way of relating to God. He, through Jesus, comforts, strengthens and heals and he searches our deepest needs.
My life became a journey on earth as part of God’s creation. Through involvement in the healing ministry, I learnt of my own need to forgive and be forgiven and to let God forgive me. I learnt how new beginnings beckoned towards the future and revealed a glimpse of the kingdom. I felt restored hope through renewal in creation.
Eventually serving God became a matter of nurturing others in their faith and helping them discern how they might best serve God. I became a Licensed Lay Minister.
A challenge of modern life is to live life through the example of Jesus:
• to make Jesus the centre of my life at home, in my work, in my relationships and in community
• to learn to walk with Jesus
• to set time aside each day to be with him in prayer, to turn to him for help when making decisions and to read the Bible
I’ve always been involved with church. I went every Sunday, joined the Sunday School, was Baptised and Confirmed along with all the other young people. As a teenager I went on a camping holiday with Scripture Union and encountered people who really believed God meant something. These folks lived lives that were different from others I observed. On this camp I read the book “The Cross and the Switchblade” which told stories of how people who lived in really harsh conditions found a value and love. Since then I have tried to live as good a life as I can while trusting that God will pick up the pieces when I muck it up, which I do, frequently!
In the 30 plus years since I went on that camp I have continued going to church – not because I’m made to but because I want to. Sometimes I don’t want to go but I persevere. Sometimes I feel frustrated with the way things are or the people I share the space with but I just assume that other people feel the same way sometimes (they probably even feel frustrated with me). God calls us to love our neighbour and I am relieved at this because I am someones neighbour. I don’t have it all together, I still make mistakes but for over 30 years I have tried to live each day as best as I can.
My story of faith is one that may be common to many of us. I gave up on church, but not entirely on God, at the age of 16. I had the usual reasons for dropping out! However, I never felt that God entirely let go of me. I would take him out of the box when I was worried, sad or felt I needed some divine intervention. I would then hastily put God back in the box before he challenged me very much.
At the age of 21 I realised that there was a large, God-shaped hole in my life and that I no longer wanted to know God simply on my own terms. That decision to follow Jesus (the man in whom we can really know God) has shaped me ever since. It’s not an easy journey. Like anyone, I have doubts and struggles and I don’t like the challenges faith gives me sometimes, but the Christian journey gives rootedness, meaning and joy to life because it puts us in a relationship with the one who made us and loves us.
A wise person once wrote this. “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in you.” I also find in Jesus Christ a completely compelling person, full of love, grace and truth – someone who welcomed all people and turned the world upside down and continues to do that today.