Growing up, Christianity was part of my life routine. I attended Church or Sunday school at the weekend and went to a Church of England school. My grandparents and parents were heavily involved in the church, but at the time, to me this only meant it would take hours getting out of church as mum spoke to everyone! I didn’t realise at the time though, but I was taking on life lessons, and felt comfortable ‘being a Christian’.
During teenage years I was given more freedom in choices, and decided to start playing football on Sunday mornings. This and other interests became quite a distraction, and although I still attended church every now and again, I decided not to get confirmed as my sister and brother decided to.
This seemed to continue into my mid-twenties. I was going through a particularly difficult time and ended up moving back home. I needed more support and decided to start attending church (slightly) more regularly and found comfort in having somewhere to reflect and ask for forgiveness and guidance.
Soon after this I met Miriam. We worked together and seemed to get on well. We had a lot in common and I felt an overwhelming feeling that my prayers had been answered. When I say we met, we were physically sitting next to each other! What are the chances; Istill believe we were given a helping hand.
Miriam was refreshingly open about her beliefs, something I hadn’t really experienced from people my own age. I was used to hearing from parents and other adults about Christianity, but I wasn’t used to talking openly about it with peers. When we stumbled (quite literally) across St Mary’s my church going experience changed completely. I felt extremely welcome and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.
Then the opportunity to attend the alpha course turned up. We found out about it at a Sunday service and went to our first session the next evening. It worked well for me that I had no time to consider it properly; even then I nearly didn’t go. I thought it would be for people more assured in their belief, but alpha was a real eye opener. It was really comforting to hear other people’s experiences, and learn that they had the same doubts that I had. I found the practical tools (reading the bible, structured prayer etc.) really useful. Possibly the most beneficial part, though,was meeting other people from church and how comfortable it made us both feel attending St Mary’s.
Having completed the course I was then looking at the next step. I enjoyed attending services but felt quite isolated when I couldn’t take part in communion. So many people had explained what an important experience it is to them. I spoke to Simon and he suggested Confirmation. I was surprised, as I had been quite honest that I still had some uncertainty and plenty of questions. I wasn’t sure how much I was able to commit. Simon explained that it was like standing outside at the door of a cathedral; taking the step inside the door was like deciding to get confirmed. You won’t necessarily have all the answers, but you are confirming that you want a relationship with God, and that by stepping inside you will be in the right place to start finding the answers to your questions.
Simon’s encouragement and my experience attending St Mary’s encouraged me to get
confirmed. To me it was the beginning of my journey and a decision I was pleased to make as an adult. Since confirmation I have found it a lot easier to find the answers, rather than standing outside alone.
Name: Philip McCulloch
Age: 29 Live: Earlsfield, London. Time at St Mary’s: Almost one year