This is my roleBy Susan Blaikie
It’s been more than a month since I’ve taken over the reigns of the Wellington City Mission from Father Des Britten.
The Mission has been incredibly blessed to have had eighteen years committed service from Father Des who brought energy, heart, connection and great PR to the work of The Mission. I’m very aware of the large shoes he’s left for me to journey in!
A common question I’ve been asked since joining The Mission is; ‘What led you to it?’ Firstly, my background lends me to experience empathy with folk who struggle.
My mother’s marriage dissolved when I was around eight years old, and she raised four children (I have two older brothers and one sister) on the Domestic Purposes Benefit until I left home.
We managed to get by, just, with the help of grandparents and also with the occasional food parcel from the church.
Despite the financial struggles Mum did a fabulous job; so much so that I didn’t realize how poor we were until I was a teenager, and discovered that my friends had colour televisions or went to the shops to buy clothes (I lived on my sister’s hand-me-downs; it was hit and miss whether they were in fashion five years later!).
Secondly, I have been really blessed to find a role I just love; being a priest. I became ordained in the Wellington Anglican Church in 2001.
There are not many roles in our society that cover the big events of life; birth, marriage, sickness, dying and death; it’s always a privilege to journey with people in these milestones. Being a priest also calls us to love and restore those who are oppressed or on the margins of society.
I have a quote by theologian Walter Wink on my wall which reads; ‘Our greatness is in our solidarity with the least.’ Not just to feel sympathy for those on the margins, debate their plight, or raise funds; it’s primarily about being involved in their lives and stories.
I majored in Christian thought and history when I did my degree, not so much because I’m a history fan, but more because the tough questions of faith are such pertinent topics to deal with.
The key role of the City Missioner is to be a faithful witness to God who primarily cares for those who have less voice, less freedom, less standing or less quality of life.
This is the heart of God’s mission, and our mission.