Posted by: lucylastic | May 9, 2008

Better late than never!

I have been an active member of the Swindon Street Pastor’s team since last September, but only tonight are we finally being officially ‘commissioned’ by the leader of the national Street Pastor’s movement, Les Isaacs, and our local Bishop, Lee Rayfield. The team has now expanded to about 30 volunteers – and we aim to be ‘on duty’ in the town centre on Friday and Saturday nights between 10.00pm and 4.00am. Part of the reason the commissioning has taken so long to organise is the huge and unanticipated success of the SP scheme nationwide – hardly a week goes by without a new town or city joining the scheme – which aims to provide ‘a prayerful presence, pastoral care and practical help’ to anyone who needs it and will accept it. We don’t try to convert anyone to Christianity – but we try and live the ‘do as you would be done by’ approach made famous by Charles Kingsley in his novel ‘The Water Babies’ published in 1862. Kingsley was made Canon of Westminster Cathedral by Queen Victoria after she read the story to her own children – who of course, (I imagine) identified much more with ‘clean’ Ellie than they ever did with ‘dirty’ Tom – the chimney sweep who falls in a river and becomes a water baby, living a morally good life amidst fantasy underwater creatures. The tale is no doubt a little patronising by today’s standards, but is neverrtheless a lovely tale that I recall with great fondness from my own childhood – some 100 plus years after it was first written.

Back to Street Pastors though……….it’s interesting to see how each town’s group has adapted to the needs of the local community, in London the SP’s are in very close contact with many of the communities who live under the constant threat of gun crime and gang rivalry – to the extent that they actually helped run a ‘gun amnesty’ which saw several hundred guns handed in over the course of a weekend. London remains a collection of ‘villages’ in many ways, with very different characteristics – the demands of a SP in Barnes are very different to those in Lewisham – the birthplace of the SP movement. I find it heartening that in this day and age so many people are prepared to ‘stand up and be counted’ both for their faith and for their preparedness to offer a helping hand. There seem to be so many incidences lately of people who just walk on by becuase they don’t want to get involved or think it’s ‘not their business’. I know there’s a part of me that will forever be the old fashioned traditionalist, but I think the world is a much poorer place nowadays with it’s ‘me-centic’ outlook and the aversion most people have to lending a hand. Swindon may not be a rural idyll or the best place in the UK to live – but it’s certainly not the worst either and by and large, our streets are reasonably safe – if Street Pastor’s can make them safer still, then I am happy to stand up and be counted. I’ll be out ‘on duty’ on Saturday night – so say a little prayer for me and the team – or come and say ‘hello’ if you happen to be nearby!

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Responses

  1. I do admire you and the other SPs Lucy: in our violent times it takes a brave person to go out on the streets.


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