A Letter from the Pioneer
We have arrived! The Barracloughs have landed in the North
I was actually born this side of the Pennines in
Blackburn and as a young child I lived in Blackpool for a few years as well. Though my husband, Ben, was born in Wakefield
we met at Lancaster University where I studied Physics and he was finishing a
Media and Cultural Studies degree. We
both stayed in the city after university before moving to Bradford to work for
two different debt charities.
We got married in Saltaire four months before
moving to Durham where I began the formal training for ministry. While I was studying Ben felt called to be a
social worker and so began his own vocational training at the same university. We both finished at the same time and moved to
Matlock for my curacy where Ben got his first social work job. We loved living in Derbyshire and acquired a
dog, Beatrix, and a son, Solomon, while living there. We enjoy running, football and watching
sports, dog walks, board games, films and food!
It took three days to get all our belongings
here and two weeks for the dog to join us! Now, after quite a while of waiting, we have
moved in and begun to settle.
It feels like we do a lot of waiting in our lives.
We waited for the right job. Waited for the right house. Waited to move in. Waited while we
slowly unpacked. (Now we wait for baby number two! Due early January.) In all this waiting, we listened to God,
listened to each other and listened to others. We had to be patient and attentive. We had to be OK with other people's timings. Sometimes things went slowly, sometimes things
In my experience, a life of faith often involves
a lot of waiting too. And then suddenly God moves and we have to be ready to
run alongside as the Spirit leads. This
may not always be in the direction we anticipated or in the timing that we
planned for. The Bible talks about
waiting expectantly for things we have not seen, hoping with eager
anticipation. At the heart of this
waiting is prayer, trusting in the Spirit when we do not know what to do or say
or even how to pray.
You may wonder what it means for me to be a
“pioneer”. The Church of England talks
about pioneers as those who first see and creatively respond to the Holy
Spirit’s initiatives with those outside current church congregations. Pioneering is about seeing a new future and
having the skills and gifts to make it a reality. It is about connecting with people outside of
Church and creating new ways of being Church together. Sometimes I describe my role as like being a
community Vicar or a very public follower of Jesus. I have the same deep love for the existing
church as other priests, but I may express this in different ways as we all
seek to work together following the Spirit’s lead. I spend a lot of time outside of existing
church community and events.
In my curacy, I spent my time at toddler groups,
with families, at community events, at the local gym, co-founding a beginners
running group, meeting people to talk on dog walks or over coffee and sharing
my life, my family, my home and my faith with others. This was alongside church commitments and
being part of rural traditional congregations. Pioneering involves a lot of waiting, praying,
listening and questioning. Looking out
for the unexpected move of God, finding Jesus in places we previously may not
have thought to look. God is already active in our communities and I am on the
lookout for where the Spirit is at work and hope, with others, to join in.
Who knows what it will look like here and what
we will find, but I am excited to hear your stories of life and faith here and
to continue this exploration together. I
look forward to waiting, praying, listening and asking questions with you all.