An introduction to another new member of the Joint Public Issues Team, Roo Stewart.
It’s a privilege to be part of the Joint Public Issues Team. I’m a qualified teacher with experience in nursery, primary and secondary schools, both in Northern Ireland where I’m from and in my adopted home of London. I’ve also spent almost 10 years working full-time for churches of different denominations as a project manager and as a director of worship.
I love building thriving community through creativity and the Arts. (You can see me in action in the top photo with a wonderful community choir.) It is an incredible joy to create and develop teams, reach out to wider society and enable diverse groups of people to work together. I manage to do all this without drinking caffeine! I am a vegan (I don’t eat animal products, although someone once thought it meant I was from the same planet as Mr Spock), enjoy cleaning(!) and am a dog person (the bigger the better).
As a teacher, I’ve seen the impact of poverty, violence and terrorism on children in my schools and on their families, yet I have often felt powerless to make a lasting impact. A good education and a warm welcome in a secure environment go a long way to helping, but I, like many others, have longed to be able to address the underlying issues, bringing not just love and hope but transformation.
As part of JPIT, I will be seeking to turn up the volume of the Church’s voice, so we together can speak out with confidence against the injustices we see around the UK and across the world. I believe strongly that the Church is part of the solution and that we have incredible skills and abilities within our congregations which will truly make a difference.
I remember singing and praying the prayer of St Francis in my childhood in school assemblies, but it is still a challenge to this day:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.