This week we speak to Lee Barnes, Vicar of St Stephens and Holy Trinity, Hotwells
The whole purpose of the church is to be involved with its environment and community, not only providing spaces where people can engage around faith but seeing how we can make a difference.
In any given week my role is a broad one: mentoring, offering spiritual direction, attending to pastoral and faith needs, preparing talks, doing school events, planning services, meeting church leaders from across the city to share resources and ideas. At Trinity it might also involve the day centre for older people, the new Memory Cafe for people with memory loss, or the Forum, a discussion group meeting in a local pub. At St Stephens we have things like Resonate, a creative arts community, and a social enterprise cafe run in partnership with Brandon Trust, working with adults with learning disabilities.
I’m on the steering group of the Sanctuary Marquee, the church at Glastonbury Festival. During the day it’s a safe space and later becomes more of a night shelter. Serving the festival is one of my annual highlights. For me, heaven on earth is listening to live music with friends and a couple of drinks. The most special moments are coming across unknown artists in smaller venues, or watching the sunset on Wednesday night in the stone circle.
The main frustration in my job is being limited by resources.
At times it’s demanding emotionally – you’re part of people’s journey from birth to death, and sometimes you might see that spectrum in just one person. If you’re doing a funeral for someone who’s 95 it kind of makes sense – not that it’s less painful – but, if it’s a younger person, that can be quite intense. There are times when there’s no answer to what’s happened.
The most rewarding time is witnessing someone discovering a purpose in their life and fulfilling it, or people joining up different ideas and making something big that they couldn’t have done alone.