Viewpoint from Father David Jennings 08/11/2013
Father David Jennings
Catholic Parish Priest
St Mary’s, Great Yarmouth and St Peter’s, Gorleston
I’ve been in Great Yarmouth just over a year now. It is a place full of contrasts - summer: full of tourists, holiday makers and warm days and plenty work; and then there’s winter: it’s closing down my end of Regent Road - a bit like the Marie Celeste and there’s a real sense that jobs are evaporating as well!
Being wedged between the North Sea and the River Yare, Yarmouth, as winter draws in at least, can easily have the feeling of being an island - cut off from the rest of the world – and not quite knowing what to do about it
It seems to me that this same mentality – cut off and not knowing what to do - can easily creep into the psyche of the Christian churches and other Faith communities. Feeling isolated and alone, we can create a ‘go-it-alone’ mentality where we hear of, recognise and appreciate what each other is doing but somehow can’t quite join up the dots and make the decision to work more closely together – even create a’ model’ partnership.
As churches with the possibility of working much more closely together (with as the Faith communities and statutory bodies, I hope) a number of challenges face us. Firstly, we must avoid fatalism – that is the view that, as I cannot seem to change the present situation, then I won’t change it! Change is part of the Christian Message and we are ambassadors of it!!!
In what seems to me to be a very aggressive secular age, we have to avoid retreating into our ‘religious’ shells – keeping the sacred and secular as far as part as possible. I am of the view that the Jesus entered the world for the secular to be made sacred. It’s our job to be in the thick of it
So, here’s my challenge – to the Christian ministers of Great Yarmouth borough, I invite to you a lunch at mine (20th November at 12.30pm) to discuss renewing the fraternal ‘partnership’ and creating a sense of mission between us
To the other Faith communities – I am pleased that we are on the cusp of beginning the Interfaith Forum – this takes courage. Don’t weaken but seize every opportunity to engage with the Christian Churches, as we will with you
To the secular agencies (statutory and non) - look for ways we can we can and should engage with you. The Faith communities of the borough form an important and integral part of the life of the local region