Even by our Baskerville family standards, these last twelve months have been dramatic! Up until March last year I was team leader at Shiloh Church, having served for 3 and a half years, following 5 years as vicar at St Sampson’s church. After a roller-coaster of a journey, however, we sensed God calling me to leave church leadership for a time to work full- time with PACE in our local schools. The vision was to build on the remarkable work that PACE have done for over 25 years by further developing the partnership with our local churches, along with deepening our commitment to supporting schools with their teaching of RE and to provide opportunities to explore spirituality and faith – as our mission statement says:
‘Connecting schools and churches; Communicating Christian beliefs and values and Creating space to explore faith’
Having started with PACE in July 2017, this last year has flown by…..and I have loved it! Meeting and talking to school heads and RE coordinators (and representatives of the States’ Education committee) along with local church leaders has been an exciting experience as I hear the enthusiasm there is for the work to develop and expand.
So many highlights over the year – visiting and connecting with ‘new’ churches that have not been supporting PACE before; being invited into schools where previously we have had limited opportunities; achieving one of my long-standing goals to be teaching our Walk through the Bible programme in every primary school on the island (almost 5000 Guernsey children have now taken part in at least one of these 5-week courses); having increasing opportunities to share in not just the teaching of RE but also in helping schools to explore their whole delivery of RE across the school; hearing some children (in their own words) ‘talk to God’ for the first time; meeting and supporting many excellent, committed and enthusiastic teachers in every school; the privilege of working with our wonderful PACE team and the many volunteers from a wide variety of our local churches.
This first year has confirmed my initial observation that Guernsey really does offer a unique opportunity to share in the life of every school on the island – unlike anything I have seen in my previous 40 years of schools’ ministry in the UK and overseas. Unlike the UK, all our island schools are not just ‘open’ to this work but are really enthusiastic about our working together. We pray that God will continue to keep the doors open – as Jesus said: As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me’ (John 9:4) – we cannot just presume upon this openness.
A huge thank you to all of you who have grasped this opportunity to share in this vision for the work of PACE in helping our local churches more deeply to connect with their local schools – by your prayers, your work as volunteers and in your financial giving which has enabled this new chapter to begin. We are deeply grateful!