Shortly after that had happened, I heard Martin Sweet speak about Spinnaker at a meeting, and the two things came together. It felt really clear that this was where God was calling me, and my minister at the time encouraged me to pursue the possibility.
In September 1995 I took my first assembly and led my first lesson at Raglan Primary School (where my grandson now attends.) I was a teacher, but I’d never been into school see anything Spinnaker did, there was no training, no resources, and at Christmas lunch we fitted round one table in the Hayes Harvester. Different times! It was truly in at the deep end, we didn’t even have a computer at home at that time so everything was hand written.
A potted history of my time since would be both rather long and probably not very exciting. Suffice it to say I’ve now visited about 20 schools (one which I still visit is where Emma Raducanu went to school….) some as a stop gap until we could find someone permanent, and others over a long period of time. Mostly by myself, but sometimes as part of a team using puppets or drama or art. I’ve spoken to ministers and Churches Together Groups and headteachers. I’ve been part of steering groups and planning groups and the Spinnaker management team. I’ve organised and run training for the team and occasionally for local churches. I’ve loved all of it.
In that time Spinnaker itself has changed enormously. We’d never send anyone into school untrained or un-resourced, we interview people before we take them on, we’ve developed hubs and moved way out of the small area of South London in which we used to function. Our resources are available for others to use and we make good use of social media.
Have we made a difference? Well we’ll really only know the answer to that in eternity, but as someone in a different context said to me the other day, ‘when God’s word goes out it never returns empty’. What we do is never a one off, it’s a persistent and consistent sending out of God’s word, and it won’t return empty. We don’t go into school expecting to see immediate results, we need to patient and to take the long view. We know that teachers value what we do, and children enjoy what we do, but most of all God honours what we do.
Many people have been part of Spinnaker over the years. They’ve all been great and a joy to work with. With some I have deep and lasting friendships, which I will always value. I’m so grateful to all of them, but mostly to God for the opportunity to speak about Jesus to what is, by now, 1000’s of children.
Glenis Ruston, Pastoral Care, Spinnaker