Jean Elliott started working at St Francis in January 2013 as the Children and Families Pastor. A few months into the job, we decided to interview Jean and get to know her a little better…
What is your role at St Francis?
My job title is ‘Children and Families Pastor’. I’m here to support, encourage and inspire ~ and be inspired by ~ the children and families we are already in touch with at St Francis. I want to find ways of engaging with and sharing the Good News of God’s kingdom with children and families living in our local area, especially on the Dalgarno and neighbouring estates. I’m part of the wonderful St Francis team, so won’t be doing all this on my own, of course!
What did you do before coming to St Francis?
For the past six years I worked as ‘Waltham Forest Deanery Children’s Work Development Worker’ (a bit of a mouthful!). This means that I worked with twenty four Anglican churches in Walthamstow, Leyton, Leytonstone and Chingford, supporting their ministry with children and families. I helped them to grow their vision and find new ways of connecting with the children and families in their communities. During this time I was also very involved in the work of CURBS (Children in Urban SItuations), and with a parish in Chelmsford, helping them to set up and run a weekly ‘Messy Church’ style activity.
What are you most looking forward to about this new role?
I’m looking forward to really being part of one church and local community again, getting to know people well and working as part of a team. I’m also looking forward to seeing what God’s got in mind for the local area.
What do you most enjoy about working with children?
I love the freshness and directness of children, their creativity and ability to live in the moment. I love their spontaneity, ability to have fun and their spiritual insights. All these qualities are so easily damaged by the pressures many children face. As Jesus himself reminded us ~ we need to become like little children. That isn’t to say that we become ‘childish’, but ‘childlike’. That’s a wonderful challenge!
What’s the funniest thing a child ever said to you?
Here’s one that really stands in my mind from when I taught in Tottenham.
‘Miss, Miss, please let me take the registers down to the office.’
‘I think you took them yesterday, Timothy.’
‘Yes, I know, but I really love seeing them giblets.’
(There were two gerbils which lived in a hutch in the school office.)
There are also many, many profound things which children have said and many deep questions they have asked.
I’ll close with something profound.
One Christmas when discussing how God had sent his own Son, Jesus to be born on earth, a child said, ‘So now there’s one up there and one down here.’ Brilliantly put!