Saturday, 7 February 2015

Untold story at the men's brekkie

Except for the first few days of his life - his expectant mother was evacuated to Durham during the war - Stan Catton (left) has spent the whole of his life in Bermondsey.

Today at our men's breakfast we heard 'Stan Catton: the Untold Story.'

It was the clubs at CUM (aka the Cambridge University Mission aka the Salmon Youth Centre) that Stan attended from the age of 7, that led to him becoming a Christian at the age of 18, and to a lifetime's service, first at CUM, and then at St James's Church, where for the last 15 years he has been our honorary curate.

Stan took us back to the time when the average Bermondsey family shared a house with at least one other family, where bathrooms and hot running water were things you only dreamed of, and where lavatories were a strictly outside affair.

But it was also an era when families were close and people looked after one another, epitomised by the title of the 1972 documentary about Bermondsey people, 'We was all one.'

For Stan the theme of his talk, and the theme of his life, has been seeing God work his purposes out. Highlights on the way were marriage and kids, God's amazing provision of housing, work at CUM/Salmon, the move of the CUM young people to a semi-derelict St James and the renovation of the church, and the renewal of church life, and then God's call to be an Ordained Local Minister, still working as an engineer for London buses, but training for and serving in the ordained ministry, as a Bermondsey man serving Bermondsey people.

But......the Ordained Local Ministry course, bizarrely, is no more.

It is now easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a working class person to enter the ministry of the Church of England in south London and that, frankly, is a disgrace.

In the book of Acts (chapter 4 verse 13) there is a verse that goes like this: 'When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished' and ends: 'and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.'

To me that says it all. That's what really matters.

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