A life of two halves – professional and personal, secular and religious. Dimensions join and overlap of course while each is distinct with its own challenges and culture.
My career, in social care settings and promoting human rights, has involved: leading projects to enable people who were long term unemployed into work, managing a Citizens Advice Bureau and as Senior Manager in Local Government for Social Care Learning and Development, designing and delivering programmes of adult safeguarding, equality and human rights. Since 2016 I have been managing an ecumenical Christian bookshop in St Austell, Cornwall. Located in the far south west peninsula of the UK it offers a service to a wide rural area, relies on a team of volunteers and is supported by Churches Together in St Austell.
On a personal level I have been married to my husband since 1984. He is an Anglican priest so we have always been an interchurch family. This has been an overwhelmingly enriching experience as we raised our son in the fullness of both of our Roman Catholic and Church of England traditions. We have been supported since before we were married by the Association of Interchurch Families, and greatly value sharing experiences, theological reflection and working for unity with others in similar situations.
Sadly over more than 30 years any difficulties encountered have almost entirely come from Roman Catholic priests who have not respected or supported our marriage and family life. As a child our son was regularly discriminated against in his peer group at catechism. Where we feel this rejection most acutely is in being denied receiving communion together in my church. Most priests use documents (‘One Bread One Body’ 1998, for example) to focus on refusing anyone who is not Roman Catholic, rather than enabling opportunities for sharing to occur as an expression of the unity which we experience as our daily reality. Exceptionally a few have honoured our union in this way although not at our wedding or our son’s baptism or first communion. The pain is excruciating on so many levels.
Finally just to say that I am actively involved in Cornwall Faith Forum which brings together Baha’is, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Pagans and Humanists living in Cornwall to learn, work and share together in building peace. Although still developing I am a member of the interreligious dialogue team in the Diocese of Plymouth.