When Pastor Sidwell retired from preaching at Hillfields Baptist Church, I felt it was the right time to find a new spiritual home.
I ended up at a church called New Horizons and found that Ray was there, being trained up into church leadership. This is Ray who’d said without an iota of self-doubt that he was a Saint, the very same Ray who’d walked into my house, setting the burglar alarm off and had simply walked away, allowing it to ring on and on, signaling to the local criminal community (this was in Coventry’s red light district, a hotbed of vice) that the house was empty and the owner was on one of his hypomanic 24-hour walks to nowhere.
The burglars struck for the 4th time in 18 months and robbed me of nearly everything I had, whether valuable or valueless.
The congregation at New Horizons was always massive and the people there seemed to be buzzing, excited and joyful.
When I arrived, I was unfortunately in a manic phase, as high as a kite. I remember speaking to anyone and everyone about my plans to design and build a ‘Simulated Man.’
When I spoke to the aforementioned trainee church leader about this, he was dismissive.
I said, “You think I’m off my head.”
He said, “You are off your head.”
If he was trying to be helpful, it wasn’t working.
After another stay in the local mental health facility and return to New Horizons on Sundays, I found that only two or three people seemed to think I was worth speaking to. Everyone else in that massive congregation gave me the cold shoulder reserved for a bottom-of-the-barrel untouchable.
After a few weeks there was a super-big Christian event in Builth Wells. I thought it’d be a good way to actually get to know a few people.
As well as listening to inspiring speakers and attending services in the evenings, you were expected to volunteer with catering, security or whatever. I washed up for the entire week and the only two people who spoke to me were also among the ostracised.
I was disillusioned. My newly germinating acorn of faith was shriveling. If this was caring, sharing Christianity I couldn’t go for it.
Fortunately, I didn’t throw the charlady out with the dishwater. I started to attend Coventry Christian Fellowship and found much more than a spiritual home. I found caring people, genuine friendships and in due time, the amazing woman who is now my wife.