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(Note for long time readers of this blog, no, shoes. Not boots)

As part of our diocesan ‘preparing the ground for growth’ programme, our church has decided to concentrate primarily on our welcome. We are recruiting a team of welcomers, whose role is to be subtly different from that of sides people, and we shall ‘train’ them. The vicar doesn’t think we can justify (sadly) asking them to engage with the whole of Bob Jackson’s most excellent book ‘Everybody Welcome’ (which in any case is aimed at the whole congregation, title as imperative verb, not simply as noun adjective), so I must condense/re-write/write a single afternoon session.

There are a number of things I will include, and ideas I will modify. One of them is to not have scary role play but to encourage thinking about the people who might walk in with different needs, expectations, anxieties, hopes, and encourage the welcomers-to-be to ‘walk in their shoes’ (let’s face it, that metre or two over the threshold may well feel like a mile).

One option is to go to the charity shop and buy some shoes. However, it may be a fairly limited range. But *cough* many years ago! when I was teaching English abroad, I had a carefully prepared set of photographs (actually, the hair/style gives it away as being prepared in 1991…) which I used often. The kids had their favourite characters who they often chose for different scenarios (and it was always fascinating to hear stereotypes from different cultures). I found when I moved that I still have a stack of them, surrounded by a perished rubber band.


I suspect I may have seen somewhere online photos of shoes, which may have triggered the connection (I certainly saw a haunting collection of images – have lost the link) of refugees’ footwear which touched my heart just before Christmas, so it’s not an original idea.

Instead of role play, then, instead of faces (which was an option), I’d like to collect some photos of shoes. A lovely range of all sorts. No criteria, just that they’re shoes, not with feet, with minimum of background distraction, preferably perhaps taken from the front-ish on, so it looks like they’re coming in. I want to use them to encourage thinking about who the person wearing these may be and what they might be looking for coming into our church for the first time. But I expect they’d make a nice collection for other activities once collated and lodged as a set.

Anyone feel like sending me some shoes? :-)

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I’m aiming to get to Exeter for Revd Dr AB Esq’s ordination next month (this month? *checks calendar* next month, if I post fast) and although we’ve been paid today, this month (and next month and almost certainly the month after that too) the stipend is more than accounted for already in paying off the costs of moving and settling up here. And the reality of just how far away Cornwall is from Tyneside is biting pretty hard.

Because of unmissable commitments and the vicar being on holiday, I have a limited time window to travel in, so meandering down in the car via half a dozen people isn’t an option. However I do it then, it’s going to get expensive. Which I don’t begrudge – especially when people from down south were prepared to come all the way up here to see me.

But it did get me thinking whether more…

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I got one of these for Christmas, and thought what a lovely idea (many other great ideas on the same website). Or at least, not one of these specifically, but exactly the same idea – my chocolate brownies raising money for the old people’s Friend to Friend group mum volunteers at, so someone there had obviously seen one somewhere. I like it enough to plan to use it too. The jars always come in handy and it’s one way I can share my special chocolate cake without giving away the recipe!

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