For the New Road Baptist Church Magazine
A Word of Introduction:
Genealogy is one of my great pleasures; the way it makes history come alive delights me, so faced with the uncomfortable challenge of telling you about myself, that’s how I’ll start:
By birth I’m a Londoner, born to parents who were also Londoners. Further back, my roots extend to Kent, Norfolk, Lancashire, and the Black Country; more widely, to Ireland, north and south, Italy, and there’s even an American in there. My partner is Brasilian, of Spanish, Amazonian Tupi, and African heritage.
My acquaintance with Oxford started on a visit with my father and sister on Good Friday 1984, followed by application for a place at the university (there was only one in those days!) and coming up to Christ Church in 1985. I was the first member of my family to go to university. I arrived to read PPE, and left with a degree in Theology. After that I drifted a bit, picking up tutorial work and organising lectures for an outfit at St James’s, Piccadilly, before eventually being sent to train for the Church of England ministry at Lincoln in 1993. Ordained deacon in 1995 (still am – in the C of E, it’s for life not just for meetings) and priest in 1996, I served in Romford in Essex, Trinity College, Cambridge, St Giles-in-the-Fields in the West End of London, and finally Holy Trinity, Sloane Square. The greatest blessing has been making friends in all those places, of all sorts and conditions, and having the chance to learn so much about life.
Coming back from four months in Brasil in 2006, we had nowhere to live, but a friend in Oxford had a spare room, so I re-made my acquaintance with my adopted city, moving a year later from Cowley Road to Littlemore, and three years ago to Barton, where I live with two small black cats, an aspidistra, and, pending victory in visa wars with the Home Office, once more with my husband of nine years. I walk to work – it’s a 40-mile week, and very good for the soul.
Coming to New Road has been a new experience in many ways, with so much to learn about another way of being church, and new responsibilities for things which once I assumed other people would be taking care of. Everyone has been immensely welcoming, and working with Kat, I sometimes think she plays Tigger to my Eeyore. I have especially appreciated David Stevens’s wisdom, generosity of spirit, and elephantine memory, in helping me to learn how to do the job he did himself, faithfully and well, for so many years.
It amuses me to tell my friends I am a “non-conformist administrator”, which has an air of anarchy about it. Coming here has definitely been Good News for me, and I hope it will prove to be true that even admin can be done for the Gospel!
Richard Haggis of Barton-upon-Bayswater & the Office