Why do I go to St Peter's?

Elizabeth Thums

Whenever anyone says to me "I'm going to Nottingham to Marks and Spencer", I always remark "that's next door to my church". 'My church!' It sounds as if I'm the local squire except that I could barely afford a garden shed let alone a city-centre site for a church, but I am very rich in Christian love and friendship. I find that attending St Peter's has given me a second family; with God as father, Jesus a favourite brother and Mary a much-loved grandma. The church is our family home, the congregation is all my brothers and sisters, the clergy, respected family elders who guide with their learning and wisdom.

As a young adult, on the rare occasions when I didn't go to church I missed it badly. I was brought up as a Roman Catholic, went to a convent school and was very much a believer, drawing great comfort from going to church. Growing up, my life changed drastically and eventually I divorced my first husband (my fault - not his). Later I met Michael and we began to live together, but I felt that I could no longer attend a Catholic church because they don't accept divorce, that made me feel hypocritical, so I stopped going to church. Until one day Michael and I spent a Sunday afternoon in Nottingham, enjoying a long late lunch. Walking down Market Street we came across the Salvation Army band playing hymns, and as we walked on we heard the bells pealing at St Peter's which quite moved me. I said to Michael that this made me want to go church again. "Come on, we'll go in then" he replied. It was just turned six-thirty so we walked into the beginning of Choral Evensong, a lovely service to take part in. Afterwards we joined everyone for coffee. I remember Sue Cumming, Veronica Stainsby and David were so friendly and welcoming we just had to go again and again. That was in 1990. In 1992 Leslie married us, a beautiful service on a rainy summer day.

Five years ago during brain surgery I had three strokes, and that was the start of six months in hospital. This was a time which made me realise how many friends I had at St Peter's, and I was sent so many cards. Eileen McLean came to the City Hospital to bring communion to me and to anoint me with oils and so did Helen Walker, and it must have worked - I'm still here! Over the years I've got stronger with the concern and encouragement of every one, especially Eileen, Helen, Jan Huckle, Dorothy Mountford, Betty Clark and Liz Kent, who is always there to help me in church.

Recently, I have been accepted for treatment at the hospital at Selly Oak, treatment which is only given to one in thirty five people. The Sunday before I was assessed was first of the month, the healing service Sunday and so was the Sunday before the start of my treatment. Now I am starting to walk unaided, but I suppose that it will be a long haul to real independence, but with the help of God and my Saint Peter's Family I know it can be done.

I owe my life to St Peter's, 'thankyou' to all the clergy and friends. Please continue to pray for me and my family, God bless you all.

P. S. It really is my church, and yours!

Elizabeth Thums

© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 7th March 2004