Submitted by clergysupport on Mon, 03/20/2023 - 13:30

I had a very difficult experience finding a curacy. When I left college during the pandemic, I didn’t have anywhere to live or a job, which was quite scary.

The Church said I might ‘feel uncomfortable’ in a curacy where parishioners were ‘monochrome white working-class parish’ - that I wouldn’t fit in as a black person. It was really heartbreaking.

People kept telling me I was overreacting, but I think God has called me to be a prophet-like figure, to be a mover and shaker within the Church for the gospel of Jesus Christ, to call out this behaviour. But this left me needing to find somewhere to live in a time of national emergency.

Surviving on generosity

I didn’t have any work and I couldn’t get benefits because of my immigration status. Being a US citizen, I could have got benefits in America, but I couldn’t get back there as I didn’t have any money.

The biggest fear in my life is homelessness.  As a child, I grew up in homeless shelters and slept in a car with my mom and dad and two siblings during one freezing Chicago winter. When you threaten the wellbeing of my home, that’s my Kryptonite.

Without the generosity of friends and reaching out, I don't know what I would have done. These are people in the Church, and people who have nothing to do with the Church. They are just incredibly generous, but I think in general goodness comes from the Lord, even if you know him or not.

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Augustine, a man in a grey jumper, leaning against a wall in a green park.

Waiting to be ordained

It was the first lockdown in March 2020, and I went to stay with a friend. Back then, we all thought it would be over in about two or three weeks, never mind months, and then college said you have to move out in July. I didn’t have a car to move my stuff or any savings. So, I was like, ‘What do I do?’ 

I moved in with another friend. Unfortunately, this friend turned out to be a drug user. It was not an ideal situation at all and because of the pandemic and his mental health, he just did loads and loads of drugs. I just kind of stayed in my room.

I was terrified. I was like, ‘What am I going to do? I want to be a clergyperson, what if the police come?’ And the police did raid the house. Thank the Lord I didn't get in trouble because I didn't do anything.

In Petertide 2020, when I was supposed to be getting ordained with all of my friends, I wasn’t. I went on a walk of about 10 or 12 miles from Sunderland to the Angel of the North. I was walking around and praying, because it was just so painful for me to see everyone being ordained, and I didn’t even have a place to live or any way of getting money.

Curacy

I finally ended up getting a curacy. St James Emmanuel in Manchester, when they found out what happened they were so kind. The vicar and the church community told me to get on a train, come to Manchester and we will find you somewhere to live.

Someone in the local community not part of the church congregation, owned a house and I moved in there and the Church paid the rent for three or four months, and made sure that I was fed. It was honestly really amazing. I just helped at the Church and stuff like that, but they were a tangible miracle to me.

Applying for help

When I finally got my title post, I applied to Clergy Support Trust. I knew about the Trust from the amazing resources I was given during my training, so as soon as I had a role, I knew I could apply for help. The Trust gave me some money to tide me over. It meant I could afford food and loo paper.

The relief I felt when the emergency grant from Clergy Support Trust came in was immense. It was like the way you feel when you’ve been carrying lots of heavy shopping bags, and your hands are hurting, and you finally drop the bags down at the end of the day. That overwhelming sense of relief.

Finally knowing I’m going to eat next week, and I’m going to eat the week after that. It was amazing. Clergy Support Trust gave me the first security I had felt after more than a year of being in limbo.

Remembering

Back when I was at university in Durham, I wrote myself a sign on a piece of paper, and I put it by the door to my room and it said, ‘Remember where you came from’.

That sign is now by the door of my Rectory in Manchester, a beautiful house in a nice neighbourhood, and every time I leave the house, I’m amazed and thankful for what I have.

I have a warm bed, I have food, and the story of my life means these things aren’t a given. That sign reminds me of ‘man, be so thankful for what you have.’

Clergy Support Trust played a part in that it. The help from the Trust has enabled me to minister the gospel in a better way, because it provided essential support for my wellbeing.

John 10:10, live life to the full.

 

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