‘Thanks for the warm welcome’ - Reverend Steve Jones column
PUBLISHED: 08:00 11 October 2020
In is first column, Reverend Steve Jones discusses the warm welcome he has received in Exmouth
In my 56 years, I have lived in 27 different homes spanning many different villages, towns, and cities in the UK.
During my many relocations, I have also lived in the USA twice, so I am fairly used to moving into new places, experiencing new cultures, making new friends, and starting over.
When, in June, I took up the post of Rector of Littleham, Holy Trinity, and Lympstone parish churches, I was not sure what to expect with this new move.
Having just spent four years in Totnes, where the community prides itself on the wrap-around care it tries to offer to all, I wondered whether I would find a similar sense of unity and belonging here.
What would be the culture of Exmouth, and what would that mean for the future of the community that I would now serve?
What I have found in Exmouth and its surrounds since my arrival has really encouraged me.
The first thing that I have discovered is that Exmouth people tend to live intentionally, working hard to get the most out of their lives.
That is not common, in my experience of the UK. In many places, I have noticed that people can seem to let life drift past them, but not here.
Here, people seem to take positive strides to grow and improve their lives.
That is profoundly important for the future of a community, because it means that we have a town full of people with initiative and drive.
When you have that, anything is possible. The second thing that I have noticed is that there is more of a corporate ‘can do’ attitude in Exmouth, than in many other places that I have lived.
That approach to life means that a community is not afraid to try things, and is willing to absorb some failures, on the road to success.
It is that kind of heart that breeds creativity and enhances durability. That ‘can do’ attitude means that new things have more than half-a-chance of growing to maturity.
The third thing that I have found is by-far the most important and the most moving.
It is the lengths that people will go to in Exmouth to value and help their neighbours in need.
That is, of course, a Christian principle, as Jesus famously said that we should love our neighbour as ourselves.
This Harvest Thanksgiving, our three churches invited congregation members and those in our local community to drop off non-perishable goods to donate to the Exmouth Community Food Larder.
This project, which was amazingly-well responded to, blessed me by introducing me to the Food Larder team and what they are doing down in Sheppard’s Row.
This team speaks of the people that they help with such dignity and a genuine care that you would think that they are working to help members of their own families.
What that tells me is that Exmouth has a true sense of community belonging, deeper than people just living in close proximity to each other.
Having worked with homeless shelters and food banks for a good number of years, I was also moved by the quality of the items being donated. Often, what you get donated is out-of-date food, cheap brands, and ‘mistake buys’ that people no longer want.
That is not what I noticed in the food that I delivered to the Food Larder this week. I found that, often, people gave the best of items, again as if feeding their own families.
So, how do I feel having moved into to Exmouth? I am deeply encouraged that this just might be a town where anything and everything is possible in the pursuit of human flourishing and our community well-being.
Thank you for welcoming me in!
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