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Ministry to the Rich?

Thursday 17th April, 2014 @ 5:05 pm

by Andrew Harrison | tags: ,

Andrew Harrison, formerly a member of this parish, has recently moved to pursue a lay ministry role in an affluent part of London - he considers whether the wealthy are as deserving as the poor

The last time I wrote in the Nottingham City parish magazine, it was about my keen interest in social justice. Last October, while I was worshipping at St Peter’s Nottingham and working for an independent coffee shop I saw an ad in Church Times for a lay ministry role in Hampstead. Within a week of enquiring about the role, I was moving to London to become the children’s minister of the parishes of South Hampstead and Belsize Park. I live in a very creative, fashionable part of London with three other volunteers for the church. The accommodation is free, but the job is unpaid so I’ve just started another paid parish role doing youth work and elderly visits. My work in the church involves running Sunday schools, children's clubs, a youth club, befriending the elderly and leading Morning and Evening Prayer in the context of the liberal catholic tradition in the Church of England.

To relax I like to sing in the Belsize Community Choir. I also spend time in the coffee shops that are surrounded by grand houses for high flyers. I was concerned that I would not fit in, but I have found quite the contrary that indeed I have fitted in. I get invited to champagne parties with bankers, record producers and artists.

“What do you do Andrew? “ one says
“I’m a lay minister” I reply
“Could you pray for me? “ another asks
“Of course so” I say
“Thank you, I always feel better knowing someone is praying for me.”

Another activity I have engaged in is the winter shelter where churches do meals and accommodation for the colder months , benefiting those who are without a roof over their head. I have also coordinated a social justice gathering in central London, for campaigns group The Speak Network. We are currently campaigning about food justice issues and had a meeting with DFID to ask them whether African farmers will have a voice in the future of their agribusiness, or will that decision be made for them by leaders of the world’s superpowers.

Bridging between champagne parties and homeless shelters does not seem hypocritical. For me, it is natural that we have a ministry to all people. Many of the wealthier people I have met have told me of their mental health difficulties or general struggles with life. What I do know is my conviction remains that the gospel is inclusive and that we should be showing God’s unconditional love to all.

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