Posted by: lucylastic | October 1, 2007

Go, Swindon, Go!

Wow!!!  What a great start to Street Pastors in Swindon!!!!  20 of us out on Friday night – including the Bishop – who came out with the team for the first few hours.  There were so many of us swarming over the town centre that it was virtually impossible to find someone who hadn’t bumped into one of us!!!  The question, “so what’s a Street Pastor then”? allowed for a fair bit of banter and variations on ‘pasta’, ‘pastie’ and ‘patrol’ were all well used.  Overwhelmingly though, the response was really positive – probably 95% at least.  Of course, there will always be cynics and we were prepared for being sworn at and generally ribbed – but mostly, it didn’t happen.  

The local paper, The Swindon Advertiser came along and took some photos before we set out and two TV Camera wielding journalists from the local BBC station accompanied different Pastors around town until about 2.30am in the morning.  The results of their footage are being edited into a slot for tonight’s BBC Points West – which starts at 6.00pm – sadly, I won’t be home, but hopefully, someone will catch it and record it.  I was disappointed though that a Poll on the Swindon Advertiser web site was showing 55/45 against in answer to the question ‘Do you think Street Pastors are a good thing’?  As I have said previously, other towns where Street Pastors operate have reported large drops in crime – as well as a general improvement in the atmosphere on the streets.  It’s very early days, but I think we all felt it got off to an excellent start.  And, like many things, only time will tell.  It was interesting to see the dynamics of different personalities at work as well – with female Street pastors attracting a higher proportion of men in conversation and vice versa.  And if the conversations are to be believed, (and why shouldn’t they be) there are a whole lot of ‘would-be’ pastors/church go-ers and otherwise interested parties out there.  For me, two of the saddest things to come from the night were a) a realisation that many of our youngsters see nothing at all to be hopeful about in terms of a career or decent job opportunity – for them, a Friday night out and a chance to lose themselves in an oblivion of drugs and/or alcohol is the highlight of their week and b) to hear a number of groups of youths repeat in some variation that ‘it’s all down to the Muslims’.  The dearth of real knowledge about Christianity and about other world religions was obvious – and yet, it’s supposed to be a part of the core curriculum of every state school.  Despite the wet weather, the number of people that wished us well and offered ‘respect’ for the fact that we were prepared to give our own Friday night up was reassuringly high.  It’ll be interesting to see how many, (if any) people call up after all the cards we handed out – our Street Pastors co-ordinator, Paul Rush can be reached on 01793 872853 – as there were people interested in everything from joining courses to getting babies baptised, and even a few who wanted to go to church.  Result!!!!!

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