I am the JPIT Intern for this year, and I will be helping with the general running of JPIT and with the various projects that JPIT are currently focussing on. I am really excited to be working for JPIT, and to be putting my faith into action every day through my work.
There are two main roots in my life that have shaped both my faith and how I live, and constantly link faith, justice and action.
The first is Methodism:
I grew up very much within the Methodist Church, and often myself and my sisters were the core of many youth groups in churches we attended. We were part of the national Methodist youth programme, both in Wales as well as the wider UK.
As part of my university course, I did a Placement Year at the New Room in Bristol. The New Room is the oldest Methodist building in the world, and was established in 1739 when John Wesley was asked by people to ‘create a new room’ where religious societies could meet. This ‘new room’ was focused on helping the poor, teaching people and doing lots of great social action. It was like an early community centre, offering a food bank, free medical help, teaching literacy and arranging visits to prisons. The New Room also offered accommodation to travelling preachers who would go out to preach to people in their communities, rather than just in local Anglican Churches. Methodism very much began with social justice and outreach, and learning about the history of Methodism while working every day in this historic and significant place made me begin to own the label of ‘Methodist’ for myself. I always accepted Methodism as my denomination, but before working at the New Room, it was quite a passive, almost accidental, part of my identity, whereas now it is a core part of who I am.
The second significant root of my faith is the Iona Community:
I have been involved in the Community for my whole life, in different ways. Most recently, I worked in the Abbey Kitchen on Iona, and as part of living and working in the community, you commit to the ‘common life’. This is essentially intentional communal life, agreeing to work and worship together in order to live in Christian community. It felt special that we were living in religious community, in a place that was established to do just that, back in 563AD with St Columba, with his monastic community who were also working and worshiping and living together. I loved that the morning worship at 9am each day was in the middle of my shift in the kitchen, and that straight after worship, guests would come up and help chop vegetables with us. It felt so right that work and worship were entwined like this. Every day, through my work in the kitchen, I was contributing to the justice work of the wider Iona Community, by sharing our intentional community and values with the guests and volunteers who would come and stay with us.
To me, faith and justice are two sides of the same coin; they are both about love.