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Cutting-edge mission

03 August 2012

AN UNUSUAL way for the new "vicar" - in this case, a pioneering minister - to get to know his flock is while wielding scissors over them in the barber's chair. The Revd Ben Norton has recently moved from Bridlington to St Cuthbert's, Morton, York diocese, and is working part-time in Jargon, the hairdressers' in Coulby Newham. Fully qualified in hairdressing, he made this his profession before he went to train for ordination at St John's College, Nottingham. The owner of Jargon, Helen Smuthwaite, says: "He is a really good barber. I just wish he could work full-time."

Mr Norton, who is 32, with a wife and three young children, sees it as an excellent way to get to know people, and to chat to them. He does not wear his clerical collar while cutting hair, he tells me, but if the subject arises that he is a priest, the response is always positive.

"It can lead to some interesting conversations. . . It's my role to engage with people who don't have faith to let them explore it," he says.

"For hundreds of years, the Church has engaged with one model, but that doesn't fit with everyone; so we're trying to go out into the community to meet people."


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