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Telling the Stories of St Martin’s

News St Martin – Talking Points

Friday 17 May 2013

‘The Stories of St Martin’s’ Project is beginning to record members of the congregation, staff and public  telling the story of their experiences of St Martin-in-the-Fields. Congregation member Charles Woodd explains what the project is, and how it got started and where it is headed.

Story-telling plays an important role in the life of St Martin-in-the-Fields, in all sorts of different ways and at all kinds of different levels. Over the last eighteen months, a group has examined what is already going on, in what ways the sharing of stories could be further extended within the ministry and worship of St Martin’s, and what further safeguards might be necessary to protect both individuals and the church.

What the group found was that a wide spectrum of activity already existed, ranging from informal conversations, through pastoral care to confession, and from in formal group discussion to brief testimony or longer talks as part of public worship. The group also identified exciting new opportunities, including the recording of reminiscences for the archive, and the presenting of brief stories of the diverse people of St Martin’s on our website and through other media.

The group concluded that the sharing of stories in these various ways, particularly as they affect our faith journeys, can make an important contribution to the building of the Kingdom, both within St Martin-in-the-Fields, and beyond, as there is much that we can learn from each other, and can usefully share with the wider church and world.

The group felt it was important to recognise that there are some key principles that should underlie any sharing of stories, and these have been endorsed by the PCC:

  • We are all equal as children of God, and share an equal responsibility, when we relate to each other, to do so with love and respect
  • People’s stories are a very personal part of themselves, and each of us should feel absolutely free to share, or not share, any part of our story with others, as we choose, but should also take personal responsibility for the results of that choice
  • As listeners, we should respect people’s ownership of their stories, neither seeking to take away their control of what happens to their story, nor to intervene or respond unless asked to do so by the storyteller.
  • We should avoid being judgemental in response to each other’s stories
  • Our calling both as individuals, and as a church, is particularly to care for those most in need, and those marginalised in society
  • Where people choose to share part of their story in a formal setting, there should be clear safeguards in place, which are appropriate to each storytelling situation, to protect against either deliberate or unintentional misuse.

Over the next few months, and starting with the Parish Weekend at Worth Abbey, there will be a number of new opportunities for people from across the St Martin’s community to share their stories, their personal experiences in different ways. Long-standing members of the congregations will have opportunities to be recorded swapping stories about people and events at St Martin’s over recent decades, as a live contribution to the church Archive (this follows a successful first recording, over tea on our Patronal Festival day).

Any members of the congregations, the church and cafe staff, and clients and staff from the Connection who would like to will also be invited to contribute a brief recorded or written ‘cameo’ feature on the theme ‘St Martin’s and Me’, which will then be placed on the website to build up a ‘mosaic’ picture of the diversity of our St Martin’s community.

Following the group’s advice, the PCC have agreed a consent procedure to ensure that, where people’s stories are being used in public, they are fully aware of the implications and give their agreement.

If anyone is interested in being involved, contact Charles Woodd.

Charles Woodd