Su Reid, TMC Champion

Su is a TMC Champion in Hutton Rudby

The Anglican and Methodist churches in Hutton Rudby work together in several ways. An important way is their support for the Middlesbrough Food Bank and for Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland. Every week, for six years now, donations for the Food Bank have been collected in both churches, and a carload is driven to the Depot in Southbank. Every year, for three years so far, I have asked for financial donations towards the lunches provided in Feast of Fun. Members of both churches have given to this – in some cases very generously. These seem little things to do. Some of us have much, and we know there are people in Teesside with very little.

This year I was asked if I could spare a few days to help as a volunteer in Feast of Fun in a Middlesbrough church, and I loved it. It was a huge privilege. I was accepted as one of the team, both by the other leaders and helpers and by the children and their parents. We had fun! We all helped each other. They were just lovely children. It was a very enlightening experience to meet in a church with committed church people but also with people who had never been inside the church before. We were all equally welcome and equally important. The church was alive!

In 2015 Hutton Rudby Methodist Church turned their building into a Village Hub. There, with the help of Anglican and other friends, many people meet for many different activities which enrich their lives, and the Hub also regularly supports several charities. Meanwhile, All Saints’ church, as the parish church, gives generously to charities and hosts major village events – especially, but not only, at Christmas. Together with our Roman Catholic friends, Anglicans and Methodists together lead Christian Assemblies in the local primary school, and produce a monthly village newsletter giving details of many different village events. But I find there is much we can learn from Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland. The giving and receiving is not all one-way.

I worked at Teesside University for many years, and I learned there how warm and generous many Teesside people and communities are. But some more prosperous people living outside Teesside are afraid of them. Moreover, ambitious people with heavy individual commitments – careers, mortgages – seem to me sometimes to be afraid of each other. Also: in recent years, as we probably all know, it has become easy to blame the poor for their own poverty, as well as to see them as a threat to us who are not (yet) poor. Together Middlebrough and Cleveland, however, shows us Christian churches can live and thrive among all kinds of people, and love them equally.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, in September 2018, said this to the Trades Union Congress: ‘Jesus was highly political, He told the rich that they would face woes. … He spoke harsh words to leaders of the nations when they were uncaring of the needy’; but also: ‘Justice is God’s nature, but it is our responsibility’, and ‘only partnerships between governments, civil society – including unions and churches – business and society, can heal the sicknesses of society now and in the future’.

I hope that we can learn to be more like the churches in Teesside, where not only are poor people welcomed but also the sicknesses of our society – as they affect both poor and richer people – can be acknowledged and openly learned about.

All Saints Hutton Rudby