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29 August 2007

by Rachel Harden

In pursuit of Jesus
“ARE YOU a Christian?” asked the lady from middle England, not daring to add that four-letter word “real”.

My day had already started badly. I had arrived at the University of Surrey in Guildford in torrential rain on a Saturday morning, at a time when I would normally still be in bed. To make it worse, I had received a text from my daughter, who was sunning herself on holiday, and another one from a friend on a romantic mini-break.

I found the “Pursuing More of Jesus” parking signs, but then realised that everyone else had a permit (to park, not to pursue). I rushed across the campus to buy one, only to be told that at weekends they were unnecessary.

But I had to rush back to the car as I had left my lights on; so, by the time I was seated in the auditorium, “Pursuing More of Jesus” with Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of Billy Graham, I was wet, tired, and not in the mood for a spiritual inquisition.

I had volunteered to come in a professional capacity, as later that week I had scheduled a one-to-one interview with Mrs Graham Lotz (Features, 10 August). I found her to be very smart, very brown, and very nice. She spoke for an hour (one of a number of teaching sessions) on all sorts of subjects, and was ushered in and out by equally smart assistants.

Then, over coffee and pastries, I met two delightful ladies from Illinois, who had moved to Peterborough because of their husbands’ business commitments. They had come to find a little bit of America for the weekend, and we talked about the perils of the M25, English weather, and the friendliness of the Brits. We discussed something said by Mrs Graham Lotz in her talk.

Me: “How interesting that she and her husband were drummed out of their church. I wonder where they go now.”

Middle England Lady: “I don’t think that was an important part of her talk — but journalists always do that. Are you a Christian?”

I confess I took the easy option: I dived for another Danish pastry, and moved on.

I was saved by a text from my teenage son, home alone in the kitchen: “How lng do u ck HBs 4?” It was time to go.

Invited to disrobe
THE INVITATION was tempting: “God willing, I am to be ordained as an independent minister during the Christian Naturist Fellowship’s annual weekend at the Naturist Foundation.

“The ceremony is to be conducted by the lead pastor of a large charismatic church in the Midlands, and a suggestion has been made that you might like to cover this event for the Church Times, or alternatively we could send in a report for possible publication.”

I had met Trevor Humber and his wife, Liz, last year; all three of us had remained clothed on one of the hottest days of the year (my only requirement for the interview). They were charming, committed to their cause, and happy to introduce me to their non-clothed friends.

Despite my introduction to the world of naturism, I remain unconverted. I am, though, a little intrigued: did the lead pastor robe?

Watery wishes
ALL GODPARENTS will be familiar with the “Where does time go?” scenario, when those babes-in-arms whom we cooed over at the font have become teenagers who prefer a ticket to the Reading Festival rather than a nice Christian book.

Take Ellie, my second goddaughter: very pretty, very 16, and the offspring of wonderfully eccentric professional musicians. I received a text from her worried mother to say that Ellie was determined to go to the festival, and could I pray for rain and ugly boys? But, after the floods, how could I possibly wish rain on anyone, particularly on my goddaughter?

On the water theme, I bumped into a old clerical friend recently who has just moved parish. He is enjoying it, apart from the long-term illness of the flower-arranger. Still, the resourceful chap has his own methods, and has placed beautiful artificial flowers in the same vases — a system he had deemed a great success, until he realised that the watering rota was still up and running. “How can I tell them?” he wondered.

Doing his best
I WAS awoken early one Wednesday by my husband on an early-morning mission — to conduct the Scout service to mark the organisation’s centenary.

“What on earth will you say?” I murmured, half-awake, pondering why members of uniformed organisations like to get up so early.

“That’s easy: I’ll tell them about when I was chosen to do DYB DYB DYB when Lady Baden-Powell visited our school in Kenya.”

I had no idea he was so well connected.

In addition to being a Church Times reporter, Rachel Harden is married to a vicar in the diocese of St Albans.

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14 September 2020
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