I’ve just been away for a few days on a retreat with other deacons (hurray! my tribe wot speaks my language !!) – well, not exactly a retreat, more a mini-conference with quiet bits.
Anyway, the thing that characterises deacons all over the world is the desire to reach out to those in need, and to offer hospitality to those who are on the margins of society. So far so good.
Then this morning on the radio I heard a discussion about the ‘safety’ of clergy. It’s probably true to say that clergy are almost the only professionals to live in the place where they work, and for those who’ve followed this blog for a long time, you’ll know that when we were living in our ‘Benefits Street’ parish we had a lot of callers at the door: most just trying it on (no, we don’t give out any money!! but we will walk you over to the shop and buy you some basics …) but a few who were in genuine need.
However, with the number of drugs going down in the vicinity sometimes these encounters could be quite threatening. So the diocese put up closed-circuit television so we could see who was coming to the door. I found this very reassuring when I was on my own in the house.
But there’s the dilemma. How do you offer hospitality when there is some likelihood that there might be personal violence?
It’s something I never fully resolved.