My family home is in beautiful rural North Devon. Here I attended what was a Methodist Girls' School, had adventures with Ranger Guides and an Anglican youth club before studying agriculture at University in Nottingham and later at Reading. I worked in agricultural development in Sierra Leone, in Suffolk and from Stoneleigh, Warwickshire for several years.
In 1994, I moved to Haxby, York, with Joel – a Canadian I met when volunteering with VSO in Sierra Leone. We have two grown-up daughters (one living locally and one in Australia). I retrained in Playwork at Gloucestershire University whilst working with the KIDS Playwork Inclusion Project. For 12 years, I worked with Action for Children as part of the learning and development team. Active in their staff Christian Network, I enjoyed speaking on Action for Children Sundays and camping at Greenbelt and was gifted a pink water bottle when I left!
In 2017, I was invited to train as a Recognised Parish Assistant with St Mary's Anglican church in Haxby. This provided a vital theological thread for my many voluntary activities. My granddaughter and her friends love Open the Book assemblies.
March 2020 'lockdown' brought furlough and redundancy. It also brought new opportunities. I supported pastoral teams and valued discussions, with passers-by, whilst caring for church-outside 'gardens'. Engaging with people, who might not have stepped into a church building, accompanied the Personal and Spiritual Development journey I was experiencing (online) with St Bede's Pastoral Centre.
With nudges from Christian friends, I slowly realised that God was showing me a new way of being. In September 2020, I began to share 'lockdown worship and witness' as I stepped tentatively into the new role of Local Lay Pastor at Heworth. I have learnt that, if things are meant to be, God equips us for a role in His way. As I participate in Worship Leader Training and other courses I continue to learn – particularly when enabling pastoral and community partnerships.
As a full-time role evolves into part-time roles at both Easingwold and Heworth Methodist Churches, I turn again to Proverbs 3:3-6 (the verse on my water bottle):
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Alyson is a Local Pastor with Easingwold and Heworth Methodist churches.