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Archive for the ‘Black Country’ Category

A couple of weeks ago Dreamer and I and Freddie the Dog took a walk around the local park. It’s bigger than you might think. It even has a couple of lakes. It was looking fabulous, as you can see. So if you were holding off applying for our Ministry Trainee position because you thought you might miss nature, think again. We’re still looking for someone!

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Happy is our new lodger. He’s also the Vicar’s new apprentice (aka the ministry trainee). Yesterday he went to a training event about our area. It was laid on by diocesan missioners with input from speakers from the local council and other taxpayer funded bodies.

We live in Sandwell, one of the most deprived boroughs in the country. Happy came back with lots of bumf and today I thought I’d just share a few choice statistics on our area:

  • 8% of people in our borough are on Jobseekers Allowance – twice the national average.
  • House prices round here are below the national average by 35%.
  • There is not a single bookshop in the borough (though this does not include the W H Smith in our high street – I guess they mean independent booksellers or Waterstones and the like).
  • There is no cinema in the borough.
  • Most of the famous people from the area appear to be comedians (although the folk at the session kept on talking about Bishop Asbury, who neither Happy nor we had heard of before, but Wikipedia has enlightened me).
This place needs Jesus

Where we are

Happy came back with a lovely poster with photos of all the local councillors, including the three who represent the ward we live in. Sadly, when I contacted them by email more than a fortnight ago to ask about an issue that has been bugging me for a while, I received no acknowledgement and no reply. And not a single councillor showed up to a controversial meeting about a new local housing development last night. So I don’t think I’ll be putting the poster up any time soon.

But if you would like to start a business with an eager workforce, or commute to Birmingham City Centre in 15 minutes, you like to laugh a lot, you’re happy to use a library or The Book Depository for reading matter, you don’t mind watching your films on dvd a little after release, you want to buy a cheap house and get involved a local church which wants to make a difference, this is the place to be.

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I have a terrible confession to make (shhhhh): I prayed that God would not send me and the Vicar to work in a church in Birmingham.

When he was still training, the Vicar had suggested that Birmingham would be a good place to go and work – lots of multi-cultural areas, close to many athletics meets (the Vicar was helping out with some ministry for Christians in Sport at the time) and well located between our families in London and Scotland.

But I knew better. We didn’t want our kids growing up with those nasal Birmingham accents. So the Lord was kind to us and sent us to the Black Country instead.

We love it here – it’s multicultural, close to athletics meets, well located between our families and people are friendly and wonderful. But today the Engineer said:

See the whistle I got from the boo-kit*.

The accents are here to stay. And I’m glad to be here. Who’d have thought it?

*The boo-kit is full of small plastic toys that the nursery children can choose as a prize for getting lots of ‘good tidying up’ and ‘good listening’ stickers at school.

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