It’s less than two weeks until our day away, and I thought you’d like to meet Jude Smith, known on twitter as @gingervicar:
Hi Jude, can you tell us where that accent comes from?
Hello, yeah- I’m from Luton.. which when typed has a T in the middle but rarely does in spoken form.
Some of us know Liz West, who first recommended you to me and us. What did you two get up to together?
I first worked with Liz when we were setting up some peer led cells in Luton. Liz advised us and we had a great time translating from St Albans to Lutonian (a bit like from Harrogate to Gipton). Liz became my mentor, and walked me through one of the darker moments of my life. More recently Liz has introduced me to the enneagram!
Can you tell us something good about Luton?
It’s a little bit of the North in the South. Its incredibly in your face and is one of the only places in the country where people are having difficult but honest conversations about race and culture. It has an amazing carnival, some of the most radical thinking community work in the country, is a Labour beachhead in the midst of Tory madness. Its a place that has historically birthed extremists- some get all the headlines but over the years some of those extremists have been extreme for good.
You live and work in Cottingley, an oft-neglected part of South Leeds. I’ve lived in Leeds for 40 years and only ever been there to visit you. What’s it like?
I’m going to use a cliche; “it’s an island”. Depending on your personality that can be a good or bad thing. It has a sort of stability that holds it together, but also a stagnancy that threatens to crush all creativity. The twin towers create a micro climate: its always breezy! It suffers from being the butt end of LS11, without all the shabby chic of Beeston. But it has in its midst some real innovation, some brilliant people and a real generosity.
And what have you been doing there?
My official title is pioneer minister. What that has meant on Cottingley is that I have spent three years working with the ecumenical church there to see them grow in discipleship, and to grow in confidence to be a missional community. Its early days in many ways but we are now at a place where the church has a plan to reach out to the estate, but also has the experience of God’s transformation among them which gives them a distinct edge.. I’ve also kicked off a youth project which works with young people through the transition of primary to secondary school.
You have been given a Sunday off work. What would you do?
Get up- read the papers (which would have miraculously arrived somehow). Nice coffee and food, then some kind of exercise.. later maybe a film and good food with people. Finish the day with a decent book.. Or a half marathon (All the best races are on Sundays)..
What’s the last CD/DVD/book/game you bought?
Is it sad that I bought my friend’s CD? Drowning In the Shallow by Andy Flannagan.
Can you tell us anything about what we’ll be doing together on the 10th November?
I’m hoping that we will get to spend some time digging around in the book of Acts to give us a framework to think about how we can have a spirituality that gets us looking outwards rather than gazing at our own navels. There will be (I hope) something for everyone, a bit of meditative reflection, a bit of Bible teaching, some discussion, time to talk and time to think..
And finally, why are you a Christian?
When I was fifteen someone told me about Jesus for the first time. I found this man who was God to be utterly compelling. This powerful, yet humble, murdered yet victorious paradox still has me hooked…