Stories

Moira Roberts: SPA, All Saints West Dulwich

The last time I wrote a piece for the website, I had just been to Southwark Cathedral for a service on completion of the Bishop Certificate, Growing in Faith and Life course.  I was presented with a certificate by Bishop Christopher.  Doing the Bishop Certificate was the beginning of my journey in becoming a SPA. 

Now 9 months later I am back at the Cathedral, again with Bishop Christopher, along with all the Diocesan and Archdeaconry SPAs.  I am here to be commissioned as SPA with Yvonne and Nicola.  The three of us have made it, we have been together in training for the last 9 month every Tuesday evening at Trinity House, three weekends at Wychcroft and we are finally here.                                        I was very nervous and slightly excited.  I couldn’t quite believe it was me.  God had called me and I had listened.  The cathedral was full, and my family and friends were all there.                                         As we processed in I had this sense of being extremely proud of myself and the sense that God was also proud.  I read the first reading, which I was so nervous about doing, but when I stood up and started to speak, I heard this voice saying “you can do it, you are not alone”.  I am not sure whether it was just me telling myself, as if to reassure me, but I had a slight suspicion it was the Holy Spirit surrounding me, and I cannot seem to shift that feeling, not that I want to.                                                       The whole evening was so special, I couldn’t stop smiling. Becoming a SPA has been the best part of my faith journey.  And to have made such great friends along the way has been a bonus.  Everybody involved in the training has been so supportive and encouraging.  It has been really good to meet other SPAs and hear their stories and to have their support. 

Within the 9 months I have learnt so much more about myself, my strengths and weaknesses.  I have met so many different people, who have contributed to my journey.  During the training we get the opportunity to complete 3 visits and 1 placement.  I have been to a men’s prison, slept overnight in a church with the homeless and had fun with children in an after school club.  I have worked alongside assistants living with people with learning difficulties.  All of these adventures I would never have encountered in my normal day to day life.  All of these experiences have enriched my life and inspired me to fulfil my calling.  

I am very proud to be a SPA and with God by my side I will continue to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him, now and always. 

Wendy Stephens: SPA at All Saints West Dulwich & HMP High Down and Archdeaconry SPA for Lambeth.

Since my commissioning as a SPA in June 2014 my ministry has flourished and I divide my duties between the Parish: overseeing the running of our Baby and Toddler group called smAll Saints which meets on a Friday morning, being a listening ear at our Thursday coffee morning, Monday Knit & Natter, monthly Women’s Breakfast, a member of the Ministry Team and the chaplaincy team at HMP High Down near Sutton.  Here I co-lead a Bereavement and loss support group for prisoners and assist with the Music Group which leads services in Chapel on a Sunday.  Being able to come alongside people whether in the parish or harsh prison environment I find is a very rewarding and fulfilling part of SPA ministry and one that feeds me in many ways.

Since November 2016 I have been Archdeaconry SPA for Lambeth with the responsibility for 28 SPAs in the Archdeaconry.  I am enjoying getting to know my fellow SPAs and being the person they can turn to if they need additional help, support or advice.  Part of being a SPA is the support you give to other SPAs and I am keen to develop this amongst the SPAs within the Deanery and beyond.

In the last couple of years I have also been involved with the training of new SPAs at Trinity House.  It is very rewarding when you see them then come forward for Commissioning at the annual SPA Commissioning and Re-Dedication Service at Southwark Cathedral in June.  At present we have two potential SPAs being training, Moira Roberts who completed her Bishop’s Certificate last year and is now in her second year of training and Fiona Carnegie who has just started the Bishop’s Certificate and will go on to complete her training next year.

Shira Maddox: Holy Trinity & St Matthias, Tulse Hill

 "I started the SPA Course in September 2003 together with two fellow members of Holy Trinity Church, Joy Mantell and Angela Jowsey. The part-time course lasted for two years and involved weekly evening sessions at Trinity House, placements in caring agencies and occasional weekends away. We learnt how to assess pastoral needs and understand the link between pastoral care with Christian Faith and Bible teaching.

The course was interesting and very challenging and helped me immensely with my personal faith.

My current role as a SPA is church based for which the key areas of responsibility are as follows;

Pastoral Visits including Holy Communion:

Hospital Visiting:

Member of the Church Prayer Ministry Team:

Prayer and Encouragement for our local Church Primary School involving one morning a week in school time:

Co-Home Group Leader:

Leader of our Senior Citizens Bible Study Group":

Lin Clarke: St James Clapham

I have been a SPA at St James, Clapham for the past 3 years, transferring from St Margaret’s, Streatham Hill, upon its closure.  I’m very happy there in my role as home visitor.  I regularly visit the elderly, hospital visits as well as accompanying to hospital appointments , those who are ill at home.   

Maria Laynne Springer: St Luke’s West Norwood

When I was approaching my 60th. birthday I was sitting in church praying about what I could do with my life as at that time I was considering retiring. This was my prayer as prior to that Sunday I always felt as if I was floating above what was happening- not really involved in anything in any depth. A visitor was preaching at our church that Sunday (Chris Chapman.) It was as if he had come to speak to me personally! At the end of the service I spoke to him. What happened then reinforced for me that this was what God was leading me to do. Chris told me that the deadline for the SPA course was the Thursday of that week and I could have my interview in Croydon! He had some forms with him which he gave me, I completed them and had my interview the same week! I was successful and joined the 2006-2008 SPAs in training.

Present ministry

I'm a member of the Pastoral Care team at St. Luke's and the Prayer Ministry team. I also teach year 6 and above groups in Sunday School and keep the Welcoming, tea & coffee rotas going!

Pastoral Care involves telephone calls to members, visits to homes, hospitals, help with shopping, providing transport for older members who longer drive at night. At present, our administrator will let one of the team members know but usually another member of the congregation will point out that someone is missing or in hospital.

Prayer ministry has a rota. We tend to have 3 members working together as more often than not one of us will not be at church. If we know that we can't be there we contact someone else on the team to let them know.