New year message: 'Faith, hope and love' for 2021

Mother Carol Barrett Ford with Imam Bodrul outside of St Martin's Church, Gospel Oak. Picture: Mothe

Mother Carol Barrett Ford with Imam Bodrul outside of St Martin's Church, Gospel Oak. Picture: Mother Carol Barrett Ford - Credit: Archant

Like many churches we began the year full of the joy of Christmas, eager to start new projects and further develop our community links.

We were also ready to begin restoration work on our Grade 1 listed building. Within a couple of months we had to rethink all our plans as the first Covid-19 lockdown took hold.

Many churches "went online" and we did offer some digital content. However, the reality of going fully "online" was not an option for us for a number of reasons.

There is "digital poverty" in our area — not everyone has desktop or laptop computers, smartphones and Wi-Fi in their homes. So instead we created booklets and prayer resources which we made available to anyone who wanted them. And we prayed.

A team of volunteers called regularly friends and neighbours to keep spirits up. We offered practical help with our community partners at the Queen’s Crescent Community Centre.

We were able to do this because of the positive and life-giving relationships we have with community partners such as QCCA, Kentish Town Baitul Aman Mosque and the Kentish Town City Farm (where all the animals were blessed in June!). These links meant that St Martin’s emerged from lockdown full of renewed purpose.

Our restoration work is shaping up nicely and we have partnered in a wonderful Christmas hamper appeal with QCCA and the Camden New Journal.

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We are planning Christmas week activities in line with government rules, so that we can keep everyone safe. And we are praying for everyone, every day. 

Christians believe that God came to be present among us as one like us. That is the story of Christmas. So we too are called to be present in the world, in all its complicated (sometimes messy) reality, just as Jesus was over 2000 years ago.

We know that the coming year is going to have its challenges, but this vibrant, resilient corner of north London continues to amaze me with its faith, hope and love.

From St Martin’s we wish everyone a happy Christmas and a hopeful new year. 

  • Mother Carol Barrett Ford is Vicar of St Martin’s Church in Gospel Oak.