Yes I reminded myself I was a Christian and what do Christians do? They go to church*.
Having been kicked out of the big student Church in Southampton and asked not to go again, I decided it was probably time to move on. That and the fact I now lived 150 miles away. Where to go? Google maps obviously. Except that I didn't have an internet connection in Loughborough.
I say no internet connection, and I'm not being exactly truthful in that I had an intenet connection. My house was on a university campus and the university had helpfully plumbed in the internet. JANET flowed across campus and direct into my bedroom like all the undergraduates. But unlike the undergraduates this was no an excuse to spend an awful lot of time on the iplayer** because I didn't work there yet, so I couldn't get it switched on. In fact the phone and internet was would not be on for over a month and a half, after I moved to Loughborough. Now I don't know if, like me, you've ever lived on a empty University campus in August with no phone or internet, but if you have, you've probably considered taking up religion after the first week or so.
Oh wait a minute I have a mobile! Completely forgot that....hmmmm 53 missed calls. That'll teach me to pack it in a box! But wait it's intenet capable.
Now I hadn't used this facility before (I bought my phone because it was yellow, remember) but I found I could access google maps from it. It just took bloody ages. A couple of clicks and I found an Anglican Church near me. Sort of half way to town. About 10 minutes from the front door.
I set off by car. Got lost. Found the road again. Drove down it looking for a Church. Saw the Church just after I had passed the car park and then got lost trying to find my way back. Decided to leave the car at home and walk. Sometimes I don't learn the lessons I should (really I should have read the last blog entry***)
A short while later I was standing in the Church. It turned out to be an Anglican one. In fact more than that it turned out to be my Parish Church.
I walked into the door. I wondered what sort of Church it would be, given that half it's parish was the University Campus. My question was quickly answered by the big sign indicating a warm welcome for students. It was a Victorian Church, but the pews had been replaced by chairs and a lovely thick carpet (in purple) and there was a massive screen at the front and small TV like screens on each pillar. I was late for the service, so the worship band already belting out at full volume the words printed on the big screen. Have I given you enough information yet? Can you work out what sort of a Church Emmanuel Loughborough is yet?
I paused before going in late. There was a board with various photos of the staff on it. There was no student worker. No curate but perhaps more importantly the space marked 'vicar' was empty. This was not a huge shock to me as the Bishop had told me the Church was in an interregnum and the last vicar was now an Archdeacon. Mine in fact. I studied the board there were Church wardens but in the absence of any clergy the place seemed to be being run by a bloke called Jon.
I went in and took my seat at the back and tried blend in. Looking a bit like a member of staff at the University would probably do the trick. I hoped no one would notice me. The bloke doing the prayers prayed for all the people who were visiting the Church for the first time. Then we had the peace. The bloke doing the prayers headed my way
“Hi, I'm Jon.” said Jon
“Hi, I'm Simon” I said to Jon.
“Where are you visiting from?” He asked.
“Um...Loughborough.” I replied.
“You're not visiting?”
“Um not really.”
“Do you go to another Church normally?”
“No...just moved here.”
“Where do you work?”
Oh dear this was not the question to answer if I wanted to remain incognito. I tried obfuscation.
“I work at the University” which was pretty much true.
“What do you do?” he shot at me. I tried misdirection again.
“I take of students.”
“What do you mean? In what department.” Sod it, it was no use.
“Chaplaincy” I said in a low voice.
“Oh!” said Jon enthusiastically. Jon works for the University.
Jon it turns out knows everyone. He had come here to Loughborough as a student and never left, and he was very proud of his university. He asked me where I'd come from. I told him I'd spent the last five years in Southampton, but now of course I was here.
“Exactly!” he said. There was just the hint of competition in his voice. Yep Jon was clearly very proud of Loughborough University.
*Warning this blog may not actually conform to acceptable versions of Christian Theology
**Actually that's not actually what undergraduates are famous for, when they discover that they have an almost unlimited access to the world wide web, on a line that their parents can't monitor.
*** Technically I hadn't actually written the last blog entry, six months ago, when I had these thoughts