- News & events
- Stories from Stepping Up: Jean Pennington
Jean worships at St Oswald's, Flamborough, and joined Stepping Up in Bridlington when approached by Jane, her vicar.
Hello, I’m Jean from the Stepping Up group in Bridlington
and this is part of my story.
Born in Selby in 1940, I had a happy childhood growing up
with one brother eight years younger than me. We weren’t well off but we always
had enough food to eat. Baptised there at three weeks old, I grew up with Selby
Abbey. I loved Sunday school, and remember our new outfits at Whitsun when all
the Sunday Schools joined together to walk round Selby, the little ones riding
on a decorated lorry. I was confirmed by Archbishop Ramsey, and became a Sunday
School teacher with 3 and 4 year olds. I was on the rota for the breakfast club
after the Sunday Eucharist each week – I loved the Abbey.
I got married there, to my husband Chris, in 1964. Being a
Sunday School teacher I got the big West door opened for free for my wedding
(it usually cost brides £5!). We moved away from Selby to a village near Leeds
and I got a job where I worked weekends, and life took over – I drifted away
from the church, often thinking about it, and then watching Songs of Praise,
but that was all.
After happy caravan holidays in Flamborough, we decided to
move here when Chris retired and I was made redundant. We could see St Oswald’s
church over the field, and I heard the bells. I thought of going but didn’t, it
had been forty years since I drifted away and I didn’t know how to go back.
When my husband Chris died he had only been poorly for three
weeks, he had lung cancer. I wanted him to have a church funeral, it was at St
Oswald’s. It didn’t really hit me until one day in the shop when Peter (the
Vicar then) asked me how I was, it set me off and he came to see me. He said
‘Why don’t you come to church, you will be made most welcome?’ But I’d been
away a long time, since my Selby Abbey days, I didn’t know how to go back. I
waited three more weeks – then suddenly decided to go Easter Sunday 2008. My
legs froze when I got to the door, but a group of people came up behind me, so
I had to move – forwards or backwards! I went forward into church for Easter
Day, and I’ve been going ever since, fourteen years now. Everybody really did make me welcome.
Over the years I’ve done all sorts of things – sidesperson
welcomer, PCC member, reading in church, bell-ringing and ringing the Sanctus
Bell, Fellowship group, Mothers’ Union…. We are starting up Coffee and Chat and
our Community lunches, which we haven’t had since the pandemic started. I love
helping with the hospitality, welcoming people. I love St Oswald’s – it’s my
other family now, they are great friends there. We are part of the Headland
Benefice, and do meet with the other churches as well.
When Mustard Seed Stepping Up was going to start in
Bridlington, our vicar Jane asked if I would like to join it – I did and I
really enjoy it. We have a great group, and I have a lovely lady as my mentor.
I enjoy hearing how other churches worship, and I like the different things we
learn each week. When I am doing things in church in makes me feel near to God.
I can feel his presence around me. We shared a lot about how we listen to God,
and live our faith in the Stepping Up group.
I’m really glad to be helping with coffees and lunches
again. We also had a flower festival, it was good to welcome people to church
and show something about God in creation – All
things bright and beautiful was the theme. God is in our life together
here. Mustard Seed Stepping Up – yes, I’ll give it a go! And now I’m stepping
up to new role - joining the team of servers in the sanctuary, feeling close to
God in the worship. I was a long time away, and I’m home again now. I try to
show to others the welcome and friendship shown to me when I came here.
Find out more about Mustard Seed on our website, www.dioceseofyork.org.uk/SteppingUp
Or follow Mustard Seed on Social Media