It feels absolutely insane that I have been here at The Good Shepherd for six months. In many ways, the time has flown by!
But, six months is half a year, a good amount of time and, as Nathan said, ‘what have we done in six months?’
Well, by my reckoning I’ve done: 0 weddings, 0 baptisms and 10 funerals. I’ve done 14 services which happened online, I have filmed and edited 11 services that took place live in church and I have been part of 4 joint services streamed live from the Christ Church Cabin.
I have been at foodbank 22 times and I have delivered approximately 90 food pantry parcels to people unable to come out and get them. I have done about 130 visits – some on the doorstep, some via phone and some socially distanced indoors when allowed.
We now have a church email address, the Facebook following has increased by about 70, we have a youtube channel and a very newly formed Instagram Account – @thegoodshepherdliverpool. Just this week we did an online ‘click & collect Christmas Fair’ which raised over £250.
It’s not bad when you look at it like that, but when I think back to those blissfully unaware Vicar School days, I can’t help but think I would have wanted to have achieved more by now.
But the thing is, Dear Poppy Sat In A Theological College Lecture, it isn’t easy. Adjusting to being a vicar for the first time alongside all things Covid is a challenge. There is somebody I come across in my new ministry occasionally, maybe once a month or once every six weeks. When we chat, this person always asks ‘is it easier or harder than you thought it would be?’. I always respond ‘harder’. They say ‘Oh good, I am so pleased!’. I am never quite sure what to make of that one.
It is harder than I thought – but the good things far outweigh the bad.
I am blessed with lovely church wardens, great colleagues and friends in the neighbouring churches. I have had incredible support from the diocese when things have got tough.
I love Norris Green and Croxteth. I am prayer walking a lot, praying for each house individually as I go by and saying the Lord’s Prayer on each street corner. This has given me chance to get to know the area and have a chat to people. I’ve had some great conversations which have come from prayer walking and I am enthusiastic about the future. I’ve also had two people contact me from the roads I have prayer walked asking if they can join the church!
The 10-15 minute commute from Aintree to Norris Green bothers me less and less all the time. There have been a few moments when I have felt really guilty for living over in Aintree in my nice, big, vicarage with four bedrooms between the two of us. So I worked out which of my study walls faces my parish and I write prayers on sticky notes and I place them on that wall. When I pray, I put my hand on the sticky note and I feel much more connected to the parish.
There is a definite jump in admin when you become an vicar. I thought I was quite organised when I arrived but I’ve found myself feeling swamped! There’s also that new level of responsibility because the buck stops with me. It is taking time for me to get used to this. I like to work as collaboratively as possible, but sometimes it just falls to me to make a decision and that’s definitely different to curacy!
But overall, I am enjoying it. I love Foodbank. The new team are great and I think we have the capacity to modify and update the way we do things. I also enjoy the natural rhythm that comes with each week, but blimey, don’t the weeks fly by!
By the time I have been here a year, I would like to have developed a clear vision for the church, updated the liturgy, fully re-opened the building post-Covid and started a new community cafe. It would be great to push forward Eco Church and be well on the way to getting a bronze award. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that if you make plans, they may all go awry!