New Companions on the Journey, Alan Richardson

I love the Salt Choir and all that it brings to my life. I would like to share with you how I came to arrive in this friendly, caring and fun place.

We moved back to Hebburn in 2015 after 25 years living away in the Midlands, Scotland and the USA. We wanted to be here, closer to family and to some very long term friends with whom we have walked an interesting and fulfilling journey in faith, sharing relaxing times together and growing in our spirituality and in our response to the call of Jesus' Word.

We spent a little time sorting out our new home. It's next door to the Vicarage for St John's Church. We got to know David, the vicar, and Christine his wife as good neighbours might but no more than that. I was vaguely considering finding something different to engage with as retirement was maybe looming.

One day out of the blue, David stopped me in the street and pointed out that the church held a Men's Breakfast once a month and would I consider coming along to speak a little to the men attending? A bit of a shock, I'm used to public speaking but I didn't know any of David's followers, I was and am a practicing Catholic and the breakfast was on a Saturday morning at 7.30am!!

So I said yes (by the way, if asked, the answer is always yes) and the day arrived. A very warm welcome, excellent breakfast - Premier Inn standard - with good company and plenty of tea and coffee. Talk done, questions answered and home by 9.15.

So I started to attend the monthly breakfast. Other speakers were really interesting, the food and company were really good for a small donation to church funds. As you might expect, I shared my experience with my friends and family, several of whom decided to go along too and continue to do so.

In among all this, another David - Dave - asked me if I could perhaps come along to this choir called SALT at the Independent Methodist Church. I'm no great singer but I'm male with a bass voice and importantly they were short of men. I duly attended, again made truly welcome and enjoyed the challenge and the fun. Guess what? Maria and some of our other friends decided they would join too! They picked up rightly that it was a good hour on a Monday evening with occasional public concerts and food and friendship in Christ all round.

But I'm not finished! Next at the Choir, the call to support St Luke's Church Monthly Coffee Morning. A very few of us went along on a cold wet morning to a warm welcome in a small room for tea, coffee and biscuits. It was nice to share with some people we'd only sang along with. Month after month the event grew to about 60-70 attendees with cakes "to die for". And pies too!

Now, when we go along to Churches Together and such, we know so many more people and we are affirmed that there are so many of us on this Journey.

And so it continues. Covid and Lockdowns have got in the way but the good times will surely return. And you do wonder what next?

I am in no doubt that God's hand is in all of this. There was an invitation, a response, a welcome, openings to new horizons, friends and acquaintances. I give thanks to God for His presence in my life and to all who have shared their journey with me. And it all began with an invitation. As someone once said to me, "It's nice to be invited"!


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