Lay Minister Applies Training at the Coalface

Published: 18th December 2012

Connecting with community was part of the training for Stoke on Trent lay minister Marlene Ferns.

But instead of leaving the exercise in the training folder, one time accountant and mother of three Marlene decided to turn fiction into fact at St Andrew's Church, Western Coyney.

Enlisting the help of historians and mining families, she set about staging a service of rememberance and thanksgiving for the mining communities throughout Stoke and North Staffordshire.

'Details of the Community Ministry Course came through, and I wanted to get involved and see what it was all about,' said Marlene, who became a Lay Local Minister, two years ago.

Once she had completed the course, she then set about looking how she could put the course into practice and the mining industry held the key

. 'It seemed very appropriate The more I looked into it, the more I realised the depth of history and the effect on people's lives and how the industry impacted their lives,' said Marlene.

'Mining has shaped the people and their families for many years and I felt it was an opportunity to celebrate all that was good, as well as remembering the not so good time.'

Mining in the area can be traced back to the 13th century, with most closing in the 1960s. Three tragedies took place at 'Minnie' pit, including North Staffordshire's worst disaster when 155 miners lost their lives.

Historians Keith Meeson and Ray Johnson, together with members of the congregation, assisted Marlene with various memrobilia to stage a display of mining artefacts and photographs for the service.

'Yes, I was only too glad to help. I appreciate what has been done to support this great industry and the people who were affected by it,' he said.

The Saturday service attracted more people from around the area to the church and was also recorded by BBC Radio Stoke for transmission in January.

'As I worked on this project, I was struck by the trust that the miners had one for another and that really links with the trust that we have in God ...and how much God was in the industry and with the people who worked in it and relied on it.'

Now the church is considering making the service an annual event.

Page last updated: Tuesday 18th December 2012 7:51 AM
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