Cllr Rev Ann Easter, minister East Ham and chaplain to The Queen loves God and Newham
- Credit: Archant
Recently, I was invited to take part in the Cliff Walk Church Mission Conference as a member of a panel of Christians who live and work here in Newham.
A doctor, senior firefighter and my fellow Councillor Clive Furness and I were all asked a number of questions about our working lives, our faith and our choices.
We were asked “Has being a Christian affected your choice of paid and voluntary work?”. It’s not every Christian who feels called to a public ministry but, sitting there aged six, in what’s now called Christchurch but was then Plaistow Congregational Church, in the Barking Road, I knew that one day I’d be sharing stories of God.
I didn’t realise, of course, that I would go on to fall in love with the High Church version of the Church of England – all those gorgeous colours, smells and bells! – and that it would have been easier and quicker to stick with the Congregationalists if I wanted to take a leading role! So, “Yes, very much so” was my answer, ‘being a Christian was key in my choice of work’.
We were asked if we’d ever found it difficult to be a Christian at work – interestingly, we all responded very similarly that we found it easier these days as there are so very many people of faith in Newham that there are always people around who understand it’s importance in one’s life. I told how, at The Renewal Programme, we created spaces for prayer in our buildings, not just for Muslims who pray at specific times during the day, but for anyone who wanted to pray or meditate; religious fasting is better understood now too and it’s great to celebrate all the faith festivals.
It was very moving to hear how Clive Furness had stayed in Newham because of the warm welcome he’d found at the Baptist Church in Plaistow; I, of course, was born here but, when my cousins were all buying homes in Essex, I very definitely chose to stay, partly because I love the liveliness and vibrancy but partly because I wanted to show what Newham people can do. And we can do so much! More from Ann