Colin’s Sandwich…

COLIN BALDWIN believes that he has a calling…to head ‘east’.

Born in Ilford – ‘old Essex’, before it was subsumed into London – Colin’s life caused him to move in an east-erly direction, to reside in Manor Park and Romford, before his change of life-direction led him to Billericay and finally, present-day Southend-on-Sea…via Nottingham!

COLIN BALDWIN had his first taste of Higher Education in east London. He trained and later practised as an architect, where he was employed by the charity Barnardo’s for twelve years. A committed Christian, he began to feel another calling…that of the Anglican ministry.

Eventually accepted into Bible College, he trained for ordination at Nottingham before returning to Essex. God had him where he wanted him, and Colin continued to move east – where he has now settled, in the Borough of Southend-on-Sea.

Married with three student-age children, his arrival here in November 2005 was to see him take on a twin-role: that of incumbent at St. Stephen’s parish church – the church by the Airport, in Manners Way in Prittlewell – and that of the new Chaplain at the South East Essex College, in the town centre.

Colin’s sandwich is this: for half a week, he leads a small, Anglican congregation on the edge of Southend. The rest of the time, he’s Chaplain to the Campus, and moves in academic circles and meets with young students.

A job funded by the Church Of England’s Chelmsford Diocese, the split-role is actually an expanding one: Colin is moving his own congregation forward (until recently, they were without amplification in the sanctuary) by reaching out to the area surrounding them; his Chaplaincy will grow to encompass the new University Of Southend as well, when it opens on the other side of the road to the College, in September 2007.

REV. COLIN Baldwin’s church premises are slowly being modernised, and the changes are running parallel with a recent, more-modern outlook on church life, at St. Stephen’s.

Like his colleagues, Stephen Dray at Ferndale Baptist Church and John Barber at Coleman Street Chapel, Colin’s aware that there’s a whole swathe of town – not to mention, thousands of residents – in the few miles between the top of Hamstel Road in Southchurch, around McDonald’s, and St. Laurence’s church on the other side of the Airport. And not a great deal of Christian presence, in between.

Colin’s church is one of the few congregations that finds itself, literally ‘in the gap’ of the neighbourhood known sometimes as ‘Eastwoodbury’ and he’s keen to let the locals know that there’s a church family there, ready to welcome others into their care. He’s even keener still, to build bridges to the local area and get the church open for business, seven days a week.

To this end, he’s already established some links with Southend Airport – who have approached him, in the light of their plans for their own form of expansion, regarding the possible use of the premises at St. Stephen’s for potential child-care facilities for future Airport staff…perhaps run by church members.

These, and other conversations, remain ongoing. So does Colin’s work with students. He was appointed Official Chaplain about a year ago, and in a role that’s not always easy to define, is charged with providing for the moral and spiritual care of both students and staff.

Although still in it’s infancy, the Chaplaincy services are open to everyone there – both Christians and non-Christians; those of a different faith and those with none. It covers a broad sweep from providing the opportunities to discuss the moral and religious issues of the day, to offering confidential support at times of personal crisis.

“The Chaplaincy services are a point of contact between faith-groups and the learning community” says Colin, “…and provide an opportunity for fun and laughter; a chance to experience contemplation, reflection, prayer and worship.”

COLIN BALDWIN has been a supporter of LOVE SOUTHEND since his arrival, in the autumn of 2005. We hope we can help support him, too, and so we call on you to keep him, and his work, in your prayers.

At any time, he may have to face questions and offer help, sometimes in the midst of an environment of teenage depression, relationship difficulties or substance misuse.

He hopes to run seeker-friendly courses and debating opportunities, for College staff and students – and if he has his way, with members of the public, too!

His is a very open approach to people. In the autumn of 2007, his public will increase, as the University Of Southend opens, and those flocking to it, will be from a wider area within Essex as well as from other parts of the country. Increasingly, those he comes into contact with, for half his time, will be from a different racial and religious background and where English may not be their first language.

Please pray for Colin as he looks to provide unconditional, non-judgemental Christian love to all those who beat a path to his door, and make use of the services of Chaplain to the Campus.

Already, at least one person has remarked to me about how Colin’s humility, and unassuming nature, are such a witness to God.

Yes, he’s a genuinely nice guy…even if he’s a West Ham United supporter! Nobody’s perfect!

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