Role: Reader Member CRC Executive (until November 2015)
These days, after more than 22 years living here, I like to describe myself as a twice migrant: Indonesia – Singapore – Britain. My education and training have been in the social sciences, theology, Islamic and religious studies. My previous varied employment included national service (Singapore Armed Forces), being a civil servant, being a lay inter-faith worker for the Diocese of Newcastle; working on spiritual care services in the NHS and being head of equality and diversity in a medium sized university. I have also taught part-time in an Anglican theological college as well as in Newcastle University. Since 2004 I had two short periods in the voluntary-community sector in Newcastle, besides experiencing first-hand a fairly long period of unemployment. I am currently exploring freelance work besides being a volunteer in a number of development projects. I am also a member of the Employment Tribunals Service.
I am married to Mabel, a social researcher currently at Newcastle University, and we have two daughters aged 23 and 18. I have been admitted and licensed as a Reader since 1994 and currently serve in the parish of St James and St Basil, Fenham. Over the years, including our previous life in Nottingham, I have served in various capacities in PCCs, deanery and diocesan synods. I am not unfamiliar with some of the workings of the Church of England at national level. From 1996-2005, I was a member of the Church of England’s Inter Faith Consultative Group.
Also, I firmly believe in ecumenical co-operation and have actively contributed to or initiated a number of projects locally, regionally and nationally. I am currently Chair of Breathing Space in Newcastle, an exploratory theological forum for lay people and clergy who often feel wearied and frustrated by the low spiritual and intellectual diet dished out in our churches.
At heart, I am an inter-faith enthusiast and believe this field to be ever more critical in the current social and political climate. Whenever the opportunity arises, I like to help people understand and appreciate Islam and Muslim communities. For the past two years, besides being Chair of People to People North East, I have been instrumental with a few others in setting up the North East Regional Faiths Network.
Other interests? Too many, perhaps! Developing new friendships and relationships. Writing book reviews. During a period of sustained unemployment (mentioned earlier), I helped to set up a charitable trust to support part-time learning in the arts and humanities in North East England. With my first daughter, we support the All Blacks and we very much hope they’ll win in 2011. With my second daughter, we love distance jogging and try to raise money for charity in the annual Great North Run, which starts about 10 minutes’ walk from our house! Most recently, I have started baking bread – a highly recommended way of working out one’s frustrations!
I was very pleased to be elected to the Central Readers’ Council Executive Committee in 2005 and during this first term, I hope that I have sufficiently raised critical questions and issues related to the oft misunderstood and thankless Reader ministry.