Our residents are as varied as the Anglican Church they have served in. Experienced clergy, teachers, missionaries, spouses of those who have served the Church in some way; each one a part of God’s rich tapestry that makes up our community life. This is the story of just one of our current residents – Fr. Barry…
Fr. Barry’s journey took him from his parish in multicultural Brixton to inner city Birmingham and then to Africa where he led a monastic life in Zanzibar, Senegal and Ghana, and ultimately via Bosnia to the College of St. Barnabas where, he says, he discovered that God left the best wine until last. In his lifetime Barry has experienced the heartache of being abandoned by his father, a black wartime GI, and the intense highs and lows of being an inner city priest, carrying out extensive work with young black people in the Handsworth area of Birmingham and viewing at first hand police harassment, death, drugs, crime, violence and riots, as well as experiencing the intense heartbreak of a lost love and a 7-year rift with the Church because of his sexuality.
In Africa he sunk wells, had a brush with Mugabe’s secret police and lived as a monk, building a hermitage on the Ashanti plain in Ghana, where he lived and explored his longing after God until ill-health forced his return to the UK, via the mountains of Central Bosnia.
Barry came to the College at a time of great personal need. Milked of his pensions during his time in Africa, and diagnosed with myeloma on his return to the UK, he quite literally had nowhere to go. Fortunately the College was able to help, providing Fr. Barry with a secure, safe environment in which to manage his illness and the space to pray in what he describes as a serious religious community.
In fact, it was precisely for those in ministry like Fr Barry – returning penniless and in poor health after years of missionary work and ministry overseas, with no-one to turn to – that the College was established all those years ago by Canon William Henry Cooper. Time may have moved on, but as Fr. Barry’s plight so clearly illustrates, the need is still there. Indeed, we are as busy as we have ever been, helping some of the frailest and most vulnerable older and elderly people in the community, not just with the basics of care and accommodation, but with fellowship, a sense of being a valued part of a community and with a strong emphasis on engagement, involvement and social welfare.
The demand and need for the services we provide is unrelenting, and that is precisely why we need help, to enable us to care for those who come to us as the provider of last resort. If you feel you can help our residents like Fr. Barry, then please click the link below.
You can donate by clicking on this JustGiving link. Thank you so much, in advance, for your kind and generous support.