The Conversation began back in May of this year
I was out in Mexborough for drinks with a friend. At the end of the evening, we went for one last one at the George and Dragon near to where I live. There was a guy at the jukebox who I vaguely knew because he’d been a godfather at a christening I had done.
We got chatting with him and his mates, and as the night went on we had a conversation about Christianity. One of the men, Jacob, got in touch with me a couple of days later and said he was interested in finding out more.
Jacob had been thinking about baptism for a while
It was just providence, to be honest, that I happened to be in the pub at the right time when he’d been thinking about these questions. I started meeting up with him and to prepare him for baptism. He was very open and honest, saying he wasn’t going to commit to anything straight away but wanted to hear what the Christian faith had to say.
We met up over a number of weeks in the summer, and at the end of that process, he decided he wanted to get baptised. He was baptised in September, with lots of his friends coming along to the service.
The baptism led to more people coming forward to explore faith
After Jacob’s baptism a few of his friends came along to the pub afterwards and spoke to me. I spoke with Louis, Will and Jack who had been baptised as children and decided to come along to a course I was running called ‘Life Explored’. It ran over seven sessions and was an opportunity for them to look at the Christian faith and ask all sorts of questions about what Christianity teaches.
I think a big motivating factor for them in asking these questions is kind of feeling that the world is just not giving them the answers, that the world somehow doesn’t make sense. That’s been the catalyst, and it’s been great to see Jacob being a real evangelist to his friends.
A more neutral setting can be helpful for evangelistic conversations
Jacob had been thinking about faith but didn’t know a ‘way in’, and I guess from that he means turning up to church on a Sunday morning. It just felt like something that he didn’t feel able to do. By meeting where we did it meant he could ask these questions in a neutral, relaxed environment. I think it was important to see that a priest can be in that sort of setting as well and be normal themselves.
It’s been great to break down these barriers so they’re more confident to ask the questions they’ve been thinking about. Sometimes people have questions which they think you’ll believe are silly questions, and so they won’t be as ready to ask them. Once you’ve built up that trust through them, they can get to know you and feel more comfortable.
The group have been growing in faith
They’re continuing to explore faith and are coming to their own conclusions as they’ve looked at the evidence, rather than me just hammering home a message to them. It’s been really important that we started on their territory. We hosted the course in my house, so again it’s a more informal, relaxed environment. It’s just been a really good setting to open those doors and get the conversations going.
I’m looking forward to a busy New Year’s Eve confirmation service
The service will take place during the 11am Mass and the Bishop of Beverley (the Rt Revd Stephen Race SSC) will be doing it. Jacob, Will, Louis and Jack are four of 11 candidates being confirmed. We’ve had a lot of confirmations this year. The youngest to be confirmed on New Year’s Eve is 11, with the oldest 84.
We’ve got a family who started coming to church with their 11 year old daughter and another family who have been on the fringes for a couple of years, but who wanted to become more involved over the course of this year.
It’s a culmination of what’s been happening in the parish and really exciting to see.
Fr Edward Morrison SSC
“We’ve been talking about Christianity for a while, but we didn’t know a ‘way in’. Meeting Father Ed in our local (pub) just opened the door to being able to ask the questions people have been thinking about”.
“It’s felt like putting on a new pair of glasses and suddenly seeing clearly”.
“When we started the Life Explored course I thought we were just going to be told ‘this is what you’ve got to believe.’ But we actually looked at the evidence for Jesus in the Resurrection and could see the truth for ourselves.”