End of the Summer

Hello again! Hope you had a wonderful Summer.

Lots has been going on since we last wrote a blog post. In June-July we found ourselves participating in (and helping a little with) Gloucester Theology School, a new initiative started by one of our former lecturers. The topic this time was Creation to New Creation. It was great fun and made us think about all sorts of things – we especially liked the group dynamic as it was a very diverse selection of people with rather varied theological views and ideas. A thoroughly enjoyable time with friends new and not-so-new! If you’re in Gloucester and think your church or small-group (or a group of friends!) might like to try these sessions, do have a look at GTStheology.org, and Dan will be delighted to chat with you about it. Our church might potentially consider doing some sort of intro-to-theology with GTS at some stage, too – we’ll see.

We had such a fantastic fortnight in Finland this month with Ben’s family. We stayed in a cottage on the edge of a lake with his parents, his two brothers, his sister and her husband and two kids, and spent time with relatives and old family friends. There were lots of aunts, uncles and cousins to see – but somehow it still felt like a lovely relaxing, restful time; probably due to the fact that we were surrounded by forest and had a beautiful lake to swim/boat/paddle-board in. I wrote down some little musings, which can be found on Amazon if you’re interested: Colours of a Whisper. After Finland we had a lovely few days in Tallinn, Estonia, exploring our favourite fairytale city and catching up with some friends there too. The combination of Finland with family and Estonia on our own felt like the perfect summer break.

I’m delighted to report that our car, Minty, has not had to visit our mechanic, Mike, for about six weeks – and is still healthy and strong! At some stage over the next month or so we’ll probably drop in to get the battery checked, the oil changed and the cigarette-lighter replaced (I’ve been bringing a power-bank to charge the Sat Nav on long journeys since the lighter plug stopped working a few weeks ago), but nothing urgent.

Ben successfully ran a cream tea event earlier this month to launch a sort of friendship group at the cafe where he works, bringing together people who might otherwise struggle to make friends and don’t often see people. He’ll soon be dedicating every Monday to some sort of community work – bringing people together, networking, visiting housebound or isolated residents in their homes (with free coffee from the cafe), spending time chatting and praying with people where appropriate, etc. They’re looking into different models of cafe-mission and gleaning ideas from some of the other concepts and projects that are out there; for example, he may end up doing some RenewCafe training at some point. Open to new ideas too!

Ben’s also about to begin a year’s counselling training with the Listening Post in Gloucester – this introductory course will bring him up to Level 3, with potential for doing another more rigorous year afterwards which would qualify him to pursue it as a profession if desired. His training starts next week (!) – he’ll be attending sessions every Thursday evening and one full Sunday each month, and will have coursework, reading and the like to do in between. Regardless of whether or not he ends up pursuing further training after this year’s course, he’s looking forward to learning skills that may prove useful in his current work and in any future work, and outside of work too.

I shall be selling greetings cards, paintings and books to help cover the costs of the course – do let us know if you’d like to make a donation, though please don’t feel under any pressure to do so.

My art stuff is going well. I was part of a group exhibition at New Wine this year for the second time – 8 paintings and a few hundred cards were sent, and some sales were made. It was the first time I’d done a large-scale event with ‘naked’ greetings cards (without cellophane wrap) and I wasn’t sure how that would be received. Obviously, with cellophane wraps the cards look much more professional, are easier to display and easier for buyers to flick through (and buyers don’t need to remember to collect an envelope), and cards are protected from damage. However, a growing concern for the environment has led me to stop packaging my cards in cellophane this year – even ‘recyclable’ cellophane is unlikely to be actually recycled by most buyers and the making of it is just as harmful as producing the non-recyclable stuff – so this year I sent the cards loose. I was very nervous, especially since the curator told me that all the other greetings-card sellers have theirs wrapped in cellophane, so mine would clearly stand out as less professional than all the competition. But, surprisingly (and possibly because some buyers share my concern?), my cards sold better this year than last year! This has been a huge encouragement to me to keep making those little sacrifices, little changes for what I believe is right, even if it means taking risks.

The new(ish) DeeperCards Designers project is going well, too. After the wonderful learning curve of the first collaborative print-run in May, the second batch went to print this morning. The artists who participated in the first batch seemed delighted with the results, and the artists participating in this batch seem happy with the process so far (they should receive their cards next week). I actually had someone advertise the project to me last month – I met a new friend for coffee and she started talking about this DeeperCards thing she’d come across and how she’d like to try it, and that with my painting I should maybe consider it too. I was very pleased! …The next batch will be going to print at the start of October, so if you’d like to submit a design or know someone who might like to have one of their paintings or photos on greetings cards (or even Christmas cards!) then drop me a message, or see more details at DeeperCards.com/Become 🙂

I’m not going to be starting the MA in Contemporary Missiology next month, since it’s not funded by the Gov Student Loan after all (and although I’ve been told that the Redcliffe scholarship and bursary are both available to me, these still only cover a quarter of the total costs). Perhaps next year; we’ll see. I considered starting an online-learning MA in Community Development, but would really struggle not being able to attend lectures and have the learning community to talk to; perhaps I’ll reconsider and start it anyway next year – we’ll see.

The focus of my job is shifting slightly; I’ll be putting more time into guiding and supporting other community development practitioners and Connectors, in order to make the work further-reaching and more sustainable; and will also be spending more time writing and developing Community Development resources. This will mean my job may become a little more office-based, but at this stage I don’t mind so much, since I believe it will have a greater positive impact than my hands-on CB work.

In other news, Ben and I are about to start a Youth Alpha (with the fantastic new vicar), beginning next weekend! We have 15 young people signed up, and are looking forward to seeing what comes of this. Prayers appreciated!

Thanks for reading, and please do keep in touch 🙂

Ben & Kat