| My Faith Journey by Sue Johnson
As a child I was dragged to a high church kicking and screaming. Children
had to be dressed up in their Sunday best and had to be seen and not
heard. I couldn’t understand what was being said and the hymns were dull
At 10 I went for confirmation lessons...because I HAD TO, according to my
grandparents. I learnt the creed off by heart and I was confirmed.
Did I understand what I had learnt? The answer was No!
At 13 I was allowed to go to youth club and I was old enough to choose which
one I wanted to attend, so much against my family’s wishes I went to the
Baptist church and joined YPF, (Young Peoples Fellowship). There I met a
great crowd of like minded friends and I learnt the Bible stories from the Good
News Bible which was in plain English and sang songs from Mission Praise which
in those days was very new. We were allowed to attend church in jeans and
that is where I learnt that God doesn’t insist you where your best clothes to
visit his church. His church is all around us, in the buildings where we
work, in the homes where we live and in the fields where we play. God just
wants us know him.
At 17 yrs old I left home and joined the Army. In the SANDS shop you could buy
books with Christian stories I started reading these which was a
way of learning whilst unable to go to church due to serving in Northern
Ireland. My friends at
YPF kept in touch by post and sent me records by Christian groups. This
kept my faith alive.
When I left the Army I was married and we came to the Forest to
be near his relatives in Ross. He didn’t like going to church so I didn’t
go. The marriage didn’t last and when I was left literally holding the
baby, I turned to God for support. At that time my dad died of cancer and
I started to doubt God as why would he allow my dad to die so young. He
was only 48.
It was hard bringing up a child on my own as all my relatives and friends lived
a long way away in London
and money was tight. Sadly I had a bad experience at the local church and
so I stopped going. My faith was dying.
Dina, who was one of the church leaders at the Baptist church in London,
kept in touch. Her support really made a difference. Every time I
could get down to London I
would visit my friends at the Baptist Church
and really enjoy the different way they would preach. The building
was a modern brick built structure that my mother used to say could not be a
church as it looked like a barn!!!They would use puppets to keep the children
involved and every sermon was spoken with the support of an overhead
projector. I found this very helpful as the pictures would enhance the
spoken word. They had a band instead of a choir and it was obviously a winning
formula as if you want to attend that church now you need to get there early or
it will be standing room only!!!
When I met Chris, we had both gone through failed marriages and had children,
so we had a lot in common, but the best thing was that Chris was a
Christian. We got involved with the Youth Club at Viney Hill which was
run very much like YPF had been. It was all about having fun and making
friends. When Chris proposed to me I said YES as long as I could get
married at Viney Hill. I wanted a new start for us both with all our
friends around us. Then two weeks before we were to get married came the
devastating news that I had been diagnosed with Multiple Schlerosis. Did
this bother me? No! There are lot more people out there who are
worse off than me.
I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach and love in my heart. A
lot of the children in Sri
Lanka don’t have that
which is why we do our little bit at the Paynter Home to ensure they can have
what we have.
Chris is my cushion and God is my rock and the rest is history.
So if I don’t get to church on Sunday because I am exercising my horse Toby, it
is not because I am ignoring God. It is because I am out there in God’s
world enjoying the beauty he made and living my life to the fullest whilst I
Tricia Morgan tells of her walk with
God as her life unfolds.
name is Patricia Morgan and I am a member of the parish’s Local Ministry Focus
Group. I live in Whitecroft, which my husband, Ralph and I moved to in March
2000. Ralph was born at the Dilke Hospital and spent his early childhood here
and very much wanted to return to the Forest of Dean to live.
I was born and christened in Buckinghamshire, the eldest of six children. We
moved to the West
when I was 3 years old. I have been a Christian since my childhood, confirmed
in the Church of England at 14years old. I knew God then as an authority figure
in my life, who set the rules, was all powerful, to be respected, revered, but
a rather distant figure in my life.
I trained as a State Registered Nurse, from 18years old in Birmingham, going on to study Midwifery and
Sick Children’s Nursing working as a Ward Sister at Birmingham Children’s
Hospital prior to having my own 3 sons. Following my parents deaths, within
18months of one another, my 10 year old brother and my 14 year old sister came
to live with us. I returned to work initially part-time and then went to Wolverhampton University to study and qualify as a Health
Visitor, working in this role in West Bromwich, Sandwell, for 13 years before transferring to
Gloucestershire. I worked locally before retiring 4 years ago to care for Ralph
who had sustained a head injury from a road traffic accident 7years ago, which
had developed into a form of dementia.Ralph is now being cared for in a
specialist hospital in Bristol where I visit him on a regular basis. I have had
the privilege of meeting some truly amazing people. While Ralph has been
troubled with his illness, both he and other patients seem comforted by Willow, our Golden Retriever dog , who is
known a registered PAT dog (Pets As Therapy dog). She has a gentle touch and
staff , often busy and challenged, have found time to welcome and stroke her
too. God has given me all sorts of opportunities, and challenges, walking with
Ralph, supporting, caring, and advocating for him within the complexities of an
illness without a clearly defined pathway.
As I have travelled
through my life , both with my work and home experiences I have come to know a
loving, caring God , who is there for us whatever the challenges,
problems and twists and turns of life. I am grateful of the gift of freewill
that is given to us all. I am aware that God has never left me and when things
are tough a glimmer of love and understanding shines through and help arrives
in some unusual , and surprising ways. I am very grateful to friends and family
for their support and to the community of the church who have been there for me
too. I have also met people sometimes it would seem quite at random , who have
helped , given a different perspective and have been there with a smile. I
believe the Holy Spirit is at work, leading ,guiding gently , probably quietly
exasperated at times with my choices but reflectively part of my journey and
God’s purpose in my life. The opportunity of serving in the parish has given me
a greater understanding of the challenges we all face and a focus for reaching
out into broader communities. We have the real grace of being Christians
together locally, developed from being Churches together. The teaching of Jesus
Christ, the humility of the sacrifices he made for us all in his human life
continue to be an inspiration and comfort in my life as the future unfolds.
my name is Jean Edwards - some of you may know me as 'Auntie Jean!'
I live in Parkend, I married my lovely Tony in 1963, sadly he died 3 years
ago. I have 2 children and 5 grandchildren.
I was brought up in a Christian family where my childlike faith was
nurtured. I went to Sunday school at Parkend Baptist Church, became a Sunday school teacher and
played the piano and organ. At the age of 17 I was baptised prior to the
start of my nursing career. I trained as a Children's Nurse at Bristol for 3 years, followed by my S.R.N.
training at Cardiff Royal Infirmary. After qualifying I nursed at
Battledown Children's Hospital - my first Sister post was at Westbury Hall Hospital and I then transferred to the Dilke Hospital when the patients moved to the
Warren Wing. I then worked as a School Nurse for 18 years based at
Yorkley and Coleford Health Centres. I am now retired and enjoying life
to the full.
My faith is important to me, but along the way I have experienced challenges
and heartache. For a year I was in a spiritual wilderness. I
searched my heart and prayed that the Lord would guide me along the right
path. One Sunday evening I attended Evening Prayer at St. Paul 's not knowing what to
expect. Ivor was there......and me! We had a meditative service
together - what a special time for me. I had that peace and contentment
in my heart that I had been praying and searching for in my life. I felt
the presence of the Lord surrounding me with His uplifting love - my faith
journey was on track again. Thanks be to God.
When I was encouraged to be part of the Lay Ministry Team for the Parish, I
felt privileged and yet humbled to be able to share my faith by being part of
the fellowship of Christ. I enjoy leading and sharing services and I
thank the Lord that I am open to His guidance and His love and peace.
The words 'In Thee O Lord do I put my Trust', are a constant encouragement to
me in my joy and in my sorrow.
and my faith.”
When I was asked by Mum (Rev. Philippa!) if I would like to be a part of the
Worship Team, I entered into it prayerfully and with some caution. I did not
want being ‘the Vicar’s daughter’, to be seen as the only reason I was asked
and why I accepted the role. I let myself be wholly God-led before I accepted.
As well as being the route I felt God was wanting, I felt that it would be an
important part of my vocational exploration. I also wanted to show that by
assisting in the leading of Holy Communion, Morning and Evening Prayer, that a
person in their (late) 20’s can be an active, giving part of the community.
Three facts about me!
I am an artist.
I have two gorgeous dogs called Jessie and Sammy!
I have a BA Hons degree in Theatre Design and Technology:
My faith has always been important to me, from childhood at Sunday school to
where I am today. During my teens and University years I set out to explore
what being a Christian means, and, more importantly, what it meant to me. This
was at times very difficult, but ultimately by hitting ‘rock bottom’ I was able
to look up and see my Saviour, who was holding out a hand to help me back onto
my feet. I truly believe, sinful though I am, that Jesus walks beside me,
sometimes carrying me, sometimes just holding my hand, always patiently
Throughout my life two verses have always stood out to me. These are Jeremiah
29:11 and Isaiah 40:31. I print them below for you, both from the New
International Version of the Bible.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,"
declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to
give you hope and a future.”
Isaiah 40:31 “...but those who hope in the LORD will renew
their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow
weary, they will walk and not be faint.”