With new legislation in May this year, we are having to look again at what data we are storing and how we use it! I have noticed that when we are happy for information to be kept about us, we find it hard to understand why someone else is unwilling, indeed we may even think them strange. Let us be a little more understanding and tolerant, as folk may have many reasons for privacy, or simply they do not want their information used – and that is their right.
A few years ago, a book was written on the history of moderators – I was included, without any recognised academic or professional qualifications to my name. I guess that’s because the author checked the yearbook, where none are listed. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I haven’t any, just that I chose not to have them recorded. You may think that is odd. Here is some of my reasoning. When I was told that my qualifications, or lack them would inform any pastorate of my academic calibre, my response was a loud rejection, as I passionately believe, that beyond basic competency of skills, a minister should be judged on their relationship with God, and with other sisters and brothers – relational, rather than academic. In my more strident evangelical days, I thought it ever so clever to say that the only B.A. I need is Born Again! I did think that was very clever!
But there are deeper reasons that I have struggled to recognize and acknowledge, for they are at the heart of who I am, and where I come from. Brought up in a mining village, a child of a mining family. My mother, Irene was the only child in our primary school to pass the 11 plus, and was then not offered a place at grammar school, instead the place was offered to the chemist’s daughter. The headmaster faced my grandfather with the reasoning that the place would be wasted as only professionals’ children make use of further education. A year later, at secondary school, my mam so excelled, that she was then offered the place, but it was too late – she had been too hurt by the unfair rejection, and was so supported by the friends around her, that she couldn’t leave them to change schools. As a young woman she later contracted TB, lost most of one lung and told she shouldn’t have children. She risked her life to have me. Through all this Irene developed a deep and profound faith – often crying out to God that it isn’t fair! Not because of any of her problems but – it isn’t fair why she should be so blessed, yet so many in the world are suffering!
Irene’s younger brother did go to grammar school, and went on to be a leading scientist in his field. He is an avowed atheist, for to him, academic knowledge has proved there is no god. Can you understand why I see Faith as a relationship with God and each other.