Easter is a meaningful time for new beginnings, and Revd Calvert Prentis and Revd Dr Sharon Prentis recently left the sunny South East to join our team in Birmingham, as Diocesan Director of Ordinands and Vocations Development and Intercultural Mission Enabler and Dean of BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) Affairs, respectively.
By way of welcome, I thought I’d make them traipse around the streets of Birmingham in the rain and ask what they thought of it so far…
Sharon explains the allure: “We had a sense that innovative things are happening in Birmingham. We are often drawn to places where cutting edge things are being done in God’s Kingdom, so we thought we’d explore these opportunities.” Calvert adds: “It was great that jobs for both of us came together. Over the years it’s usually been a case of one of us following the other’s opportunity, but this all came together at the same time and the right time.”
What are their first impressions of our city region?
“The thing that hits you as soon as you’ve only walked a few metres in Birmingham is that it is truly diverse.” Calvert remarks. “You also see the hardships, though. You see different cultures living together, but also quite separately. There’s a lot of very apparent homelessness too. You see poverty, you see wealth, you see it all. But you also see hope.”
Sharon agrees: “Birmingham is a vibrant city made up of so many different communities. That has its challenges, but it also has its opportunities and we wanted to be a part of that. There is a real desire here to help your neighbours and engage with those around you. We realise that our colleagues in parish churches here are doing significant work already in their communities so we’re looking forward to coming alongside that and working together.”
What are their hopes are for their respective roles?
Calvert responds: “I want to encourage and support all pursuits and vocations. God calls us to do various things but there’s only one mission – to show his praise and glory so that people come into relationship with him. It shouldn’t be about competition: ‘ordained’ is no greater or less than ‘not ordained’ - we’re all called to do something. It is about authenticity; helping people see the value of what’s in their hands, how they can serve, and can do that in their unique way.”
Sharon concurs: “For me it’s about generosity. It’s about our hospitality in saying to people: ‘This is the Church. You are welcome to be a part of it and we value that, whoever you are, whatever your background.’
"I think we individually sometimes assume we’re doing that but it’s good to acknowledge that we don’t always get it right. So together, through listening, through dialogue and our relationships with one another we can see that happen.”
To contact Calvert about vocations, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0121 426 0445.
To contact Sharon about intercultural mission or BAME affairs, email SharonP@cofebirmingham.com or phone 07741 146152.
Photos by Adnan Rana