I’m writing from Alex and my new home on the Racecourse Estate in Northolt, where we are enjoying married life! We are renting a 2-bedroom flat with a garden (in which we got married in July) which is pat of a church building. Apart from the daily blue lights and sirens on the main road nearby (apparently something that comes with living in London) and the sound of lively children and nursery teachers in the church grounds next to us Monday to Friday, it seems to be a peaceful and friendly place. Alex put so much work into the flat before we moved in, transforming it from a rather dilapidated nursery school into our comfy home. We’ve also enjoyed putting some work into the garden, and have loved growing various vegetables, herbs and flowers. Note the bath tub in the before and after photos…
Alex and I love hosting people together – friends, family, new neighbours and strangers. So please let us know if you’re nearby, as we’d love to have you over, Covid-permitting. We’re really keen to get to know people on our doorstep, practising some of what we have learnt on our Pioneer Mission courses – with an emphasis on ‘being’, listening and relationship building, before jumping in with projects and church events etc.
It has been lovely to get to know one particular neighbour who started chatting when passing by. He came round for tea and told us all about his interest in art and painting. We were then privileged to be invited to the opening night at his small gallery in central London, which was rather quirky and a wonderful-work-in-progress. The night ended in a game of roulette, which was a first for me, and good fun! It was great to be able to support him, and we find his positivity and creativity such an inspiration. He could be a great ally when thinking creatively about community building, something about which he is passionate too.
Robin has become a good local friend here too – he has always lived on the estate and is now a member of the local church, is training for ordination, and is passionate about local mission. We have enjoyed having him for some dinner, worship and prayer nights (we miss singing in church); and doing some local prayer walks. Along with Chris, the vicar, we are praying for wisdom in how we approach mission here, for opportunities to get to know people, and for God’s light to shine in this place.
Something I have to do in the next few months for my CMS course is a 35-hour placement (which could be a 5-day residential or spread over a few weeks, and can be virtual if Covid necessitates). The module is designed to give us the opportunity to experience a context outside of my experience to date. It needs to be about some aspect of ministry and mission. I wondered if any of you had any ideas as to what I could do/where I could go! Thoughts so far have included (but are not limited to) a monastery/convent, forest church, a chaplaincy somewhere, or an Eden team doing urban estate incarnational mission. Do let me know if you might have any contacts or thoughts with this in mind. Thank you.
Many of you will have heard about Alex and my wedding and all the Covid-inflicted changes of plans. For those who haven’t heard, Alex and I created our own wedding ceremony which we held in our garden with immediate family members and live-streamed on YouTube (still available here if you missed it!). We are completing the legal part in a registry office a week on Wednesday with two friends as witnesses. We had an amazing day and we actually loved doing things really differently and much more simply in the end. It was intimate, informal but meaningful, and lovely to have all the family participating in some way.
In a recent assignment for my ‘Developing Worship and Ministry in Context’ module, we had to ‘curate and lead a worship service that relates to a particular rite in our tradition/denomination’. So I chose to write about our wedding, which I think the assessor found quite novel! I enjoyed reflecting theologically, and even missiologically, on how we approached planning and leading our wedding. Here is a snippet:
Having to think outside the box and work within a context of restricted gatherings led us to reflect deeply on what was essential in a wedding. Questions were raised about the priest’s role, the significance of the church building, the legal aspect and how God views marriage. The most important thing for us was to declare our love and life-long commitment to each other in the presence of God and our friends and family… We were grateful for the opportunity to put our stamp on the event, sharing the significance of our Christian faith in an open and natural way… Overall, I am pleased with how we managed to curate and lead a wedding which was creative, personal and accessible.
Apart from work and ministry or course related activities, some things Alex and I have been up to include exploring the locality by bike (I was very pleased to find out we could cycle all the way into central London along a canal path); a lovely honeymoon in North Wales; and some bbqs and river swimming in the very hot weather. I miss my cycle commute to Yeldall Manor, but am getting used to the 40-minute drive twice a week (working a day a week from home). I have managed to do a cycle and train commute a few times which takes a lot longer, but is better for my fitness and the environment, so I’ll aim to do that at least sometimes!
I’ll conclude with a re-wording of Isaiah 61:1. It was one of the readings at our wedding and in many ways sums up how we want to live:
Spirit of the Sovereign Lord, I yield myself to You. Be upon me. Fill me. Work through me for the sake of those who are poor, for those who are imprisoned, for those who are broken-hearted, for those who are in darkness and cannot see, for those who are oppressed. May this be a year of favour and salvation for them.
Thank you all for your love and support. Prayers appreciated for new friendships in Northolt and wisdom in how we might engage in mission here, alongside my part-time work at Yeldall and Alex’s ministry in two London prisons.
Love and blessings,
Mr and Mrs Cama