On a glorious sunny Thursday in May I arrived at Cambridge North Railway Station to meet Revd Joshua Shinhmar: Chaplain at the Science Park and Community Chaplain as part of St George’s (Chesterton) outreach into their parish area.
Joshua took up his post in July 2018, as curate, part funded by a Growth Fund. Having previously worked in prisons and as a Railway Chaplain, (Railway Mission) Joshua brings a diverse range of skills that lend well to the plethora of opportunities and change occurring near the Cambridge North Station and the Science and Business Parks.
As I approach the station it is clear who Joshua is by his collar, but his hat shielding him from the hot sun and his friendly smile immediately illustrate his warm and approachable nature. As I walk up to the station entrance, one of the railway staff comes out to say hello to Joshua, this greeting illustrates a good mutual respect and connection apparent by their interactions. We walk into the station, which is relatively quiet at lunch time, and he tells me about his chaplaincy.
He is at the station every Thursday, at present he spends time with the station workers, providing a person of peace and listening ear and to grow relationships to investigate ways in which they can work collaboratively with the parish to support the community. Already this has been very successful; at Christmas people from the parish and staff from the station sang carols for the commuters.
5,000 people go through the station every week, at rush hour it is flooded with commuters and the in the day has a flutter of people from all different backgrounds. The long-term goal is to bring something of God’s Kingdom to the station and to have a visible presence and Christian influence at a major gateway in and out of Cambridge. With his background experience Joshua understands that it is an exciting way to grow ministry particularly with commuters, who are using the station in increasing numbers.
Adjacent to the station Joshua also engages with the wider Cambridge workplace chaplaincy and has forged new links with business people. He has been asked by the Science Park to provide a chaplaincy service for the workers, called the Listening Ear Service, at the Barrington Centre on a Tuesday 11-2 where Joshua is available to talk and listen. In addition, with his colleague Revd Andy Atkins, they also have taken on the running of PARKS at ONE: a series of monthly lunchtime talks which aim to connect the Christian faith with the everyday lives of those who work on the Cambridge Science, Innovation and Business Parks. Originally pioneered by Jon Tuckwell (Christ Church Cambridge) this group has seen great connections and hosts a range of engaging talks as well as offering further ways to connect with each other.
My visit comes to an end at St. George’s church itself, where I am filled with warmth and joy as, not only is the building striking and memorable (an impressive Grade II Listed 1930’s churchby Thomas H Lyon) and being used for a diverse use of community activities (from Cambridge Community Circus to concerts), but there is a real presence of the Holy Spirit in what the team are doing to engage, grow and deepen their parish and reach into the community.
To find out more about Joshua you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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