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Outlook
News and views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
Issue 8 Spring 2009
John Hare

A journey in faith

I joined the Christian Church by baptism when a few months old. Faith is something I grew into, nurtured by the Church; it was not the result of a sudden conversion. God has always been in my life, some-times at the forefront, sometimes pushed into the background. But never absent.

There followed a conventional Anglican upbringing in the 40s and 50s; confirmation at 14, altar-serving and a development of rather excessive interest in old-fashioned Anglo-Catholicism. A strong sense of vocation took me into medicine. At Medical School I ran the Anglican Society, which was somewhat laid-back.

Marriage followed qualification and after four basic posts and four years working in the field of Venereal Disease, I returned to complete my training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Both posts presented a challenge to conventional faith. One included the care of people for whom sexual promiscuity was their life and livelihood and of others caught up in the destructive net of relationship failure. The other involved me in the early years of the Abortion Act, when doctors had suddenly become decision makers in situations for which they had not been trained, and for which decisions they were at risk of being branded as murderers by vocal Christians. My faith moved from being in a God who died for us to a God who lived for us and with us and shared our human experience. And the Eucharist became more a celebration of life than a memorial of death.

In the 1980s came the Bishop of Durham. I owe an enormous debt to Bishop David, not because of what he said but because he said things openly for all to hear. Until then theological debate, discussion and disagreement had been kept from the laity, and those who thought for themselves lost heart. Bishop David gave me solace and disappointment; solace in knowing I wasn't a heretic and disappointment that, after all, my ideas were not original.

For many years I had felt a nagging sense of vocation to the Priesthood, and on my retirement from the NHS Mary and I decided that it should be tested by the Church. The result was two year's training, ordination as a Deacon in 2002 and Priest in 2003. Four years as Assistant Curate in Ely Diocese and then a move to Suffolk and my current role at St Marys.