#MondayMeet – Murray Wilkinson, Children and Young People’s (ChYP’s) Ministry Adviser

murraywilkinson“Father, husband, musician, methlican, zoologist, geek, cook, ChYP’s Ministry Adviser – Canterbury Diocese.” Well that’s what my Twitter account says about me. That may be as much as anyone wants to know.

If you are still reading, I’ll fill in some gaps:

Dad to Emma (7) and Charlotte (nearly 5). I am slowly coming to terms with the shock of both daughters being at school with all the juggling of clubs, cardigans and Brownies that this brings.

Married to Gina – a fellow South African and rugby supporter – who teaches maths at Maidstone Girls Grammar School while also looking after the pastoral support for their sixth form, and looking after three kids at home (no, I’m not that bad at maths just that bad at being a grown up!).

I have been known to play guitar and am infamous in some primary schools across Kent for inflicting action songs on staff and pupils alike without apology – I was once known as Blurry-hand-Wilkinson as I tried to keep up with an Irish Fiddle, Mandolin, Flute and Bodrhain playing reels and jigs in Cape Town where no one else knew enough about Irish music to realise we were amateurs. It’s not completely fair to say that it is Gina’s fault that we came to the UK, by that doesn’t stop me from saying it. It was Gina’s long desire to see the beautiful capitals of Europe that brought us and the wonderful atmosphere, scenery and people of Kent that kept us. We came for just a year to travel nearly eleven years ago… there’s that brilliant maths ability again.

I grew up in a Methodist Manse in various small towns across South Africa, and my first full-time job was Youth Pastor in a Methodist Church in the northern suburbs of Cape Town. I adopted the Church of England upon moving to these damp isles not least because it was All Saints Parish in Brenchley, Kent, who offered me a job as Youth and Childrens Worker back in 2005. Hence methilican.

I studied zoology at university fulfilling my natural inclination as a science geek as well as my passion for critical thinking and, if you give me half a chance, I will tell you about identifying what bats have eaten from their…well the things they leave behind. Or I might regale you about the fascinating world of Naked Mole Rats and what I think we can learn from them about being the body of Christ.

It was, however, finding myself as Chaplain to a primary school in Brenchley that got me interested in children’s spirituality. That combined with the obvious (to me at any rate) importance of blurring the lines between ‘youth work’ and ‘children’s work’ that enticed me to apply for the joint role at Diocesan House five years ago yesterday (4 October is my fifth anniversary!!)

It has proved to be the most exciting place to work because of the massive support and opportunity I have been given to explore the ideas of children as equal disciples – Fellow Pilgrims if you like – and the incredible challenge we face in confronting the way we see and respond to children and young people.

My role at the moment is to encourage everyone to join me in this ongoing conversation about becoming truly intergenerational communities who make space for people of ANY age to experience a transformative encounter with God.