10 September 2008

New Beginnings

I don't know if there are good or bad reasons for starting a blog, but I've decided to begin blogging following the sudden death of a respected Anglican blogger with whom I worked for a while in the 1990s. To mark his passing, I felt like I had to throw something into the blogosphere about the BigBulkyAnglican and perhaps to try and follow in his footsteps by having a go at blogging.

Tom Allen was well known in church-related blogging circles for his bold and confident views on a range of subjects. My memories, however, are from Tom's time as Diocesan Youth Officer in Blackburn, Lancashire.

At a time when I was one of few young people still attending my church, Tom ran annual Diocesan youth weekends at Scargill House, and through these I was quickly drawn into a network of similarly aged people who were asking the same kinds of questions as me. Tom knew his audience! On a youth weekend, why end the programme at 11pm and expect everyone to go off to their bedrooms? Instead, Tom treated us to "Uncle Tom's Midnight Madness" - a selection of games and mad activities to wear out even the most energetic yoof! These weekends gave a lot of curious youngsters a credible place where they could be themselves, without any demands or expectations.

I got to know Tom better in 1996 when he asked me if I would be interested in a voluntary gap year in the youth office. After careful consideration, I decided to give it a go. I had a great year which built up to the start of 'unbelievable @ blackburn cathedral', a monthly alternative worship event. Tom's enthusiasm for music and sound equipment was infectious, and most of what I know about sound engineering came straight from him. In recent times, my eyes would light up when Tom's blog featured a recommended a piece of kit or news about the latest bargain he'd discovered.

More than anything else though, Tom made me feel confident in my own beliefs. His catholic background and experimental urge mirrored my own. I felt very uncomfortable with the rock-bank evangelical worship that many of my friends were into, and Tom's example enabled me to engage confidently with Wild Goose music, Taize and the emerging world of alternative worship.

I could say so much more, but brief is probably best. Rest in Peace Tom. You were an inspiration to me.


  1. welcome to the madhouse! Hope you find blogging as much fun as I have, and that it helps you reflect, chunter therapeutcially, and make new friends.

  2. Cheers dmk, I tried blogging before but I got to busy in the real world. Here's hoping I can stick to it this time!