Tom Phipps is the Youth Café and Under Fives Worker at St James and Emmanuel, Didsbury.
Brought up in a Christian household, Tom's parents allowed him to make his own decisions about his faith. Tom says, “When I was younger, I went to Methodist churches with my parents. By the time I was in my final year at Manchester University I was trying different churches and I immediately felt very comfortable at St James and Emmanuel.
“Having had faith from a young age, I’ve had times I’ve had to grapple with it. My theology degree was very challenging – a course at a secular university that led me to question my faith deeply – I think it’s normal and healthy but it was still difficult.
Having previously trained and worked as a primary school teacher, Tom has been at St James and Emmanuel for a little over 5 years, where he is involved with the Sunday groups and the weekday toddler groups as well as the Youth Café.
“I’ve been through some tough patches recently, going through personal loss and some quite challenging stuff. I think it’s times like that which force you to wrestle with your convictions and to grow.
“I was only recently baptised. I’d discussed it before but it never came to fruition. I’m really delighted I was able to do it here as I’ve never felt so at home anywhere. It’s important not just for what it symbolises but as a proclamation of your faith. It felt like the right time.
“The people make this church a great home. It’s a great community and there’s a real acknowledgement that we’re all on a journey. The inclusive side of the church is a big thing for me, along with an acceptance that we all have different perceptions about how God works and how the world works, and it helps to build a loving community. It’s a place you come and grow.
“My faith governs how I work. I feel God has led me here, that I’m where I’m supposed to be. I feel I am doing the work that’s laid out for me – not just a job but a position that God has put me in.”