Wedding link helps set up Caribbean summer placement
A connection with the minister who conducted his wedding 16 years ago enabled an ordinand from Winchester to go on summer placement with his family to Barbados …
Winchester ordinand, Mike Trotman, has just returned from his visit to Barbados, part of the Church in the Province of the West Indies. About to start his final-year of training at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford, Mike was responsible for organising a cross-cultural summer placement at The Cathedral Church of St Michael and All Angels.
The cathedral Dean, Jeffrey Gibson, married Mike and Heidi 16 years ago, and Mike has kept in contact with Dean Jeffrey ever since. The couple spent their honeymoon in Barbados, and so the opportunity to organise a summer placement in the Caribbean could not be missed! Mike was even encouraged to bring the family – to gain a greater appreciation of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
His training placement involved shadowing and observing the extensive responsibilities of the Dean, the duties of other clergy and lay members.
As part of the vibrant cathedral community, Mike was able to fully immerse himself in various forms of service, and also be exposed to a wide range of different approaches to liturgical worship. The whole family were wholeheartedly involved in the life of the cathedral, but also were able to set aside time to effectively balance the placement responsibilities with relaxation and leisure activities. They even managed to experience many of the cultural highlights that Barbados has to offer, such as the Crop Over festival celebrations.
Barbados is a country that relies heavily on the tourism industry and ‘wealthy’ visitors. But beneath the veneer of luxurious holidays, the island is currently wrestling with many difficult social issues including the recent spate of gun-related violence, high-levels of disengagement amongst 16-24year olds, poverty and homelessness, and the breakdown of church community.
There are no overnight solutions, and much work needs to be done through encounters and conversations with wider Barbadian society.
By keeping a journal, Mike has been able to reflect on his placement experiences throughout his time spent on the island. He was keen to participate in the ‘St. Michael Centre for Faith and Action’ retreat day, which reflected upon the recent issue of gun crime. The training provided the opportunity to think creatively about how the consequences of gun-related violence open up new ways to encounter Christ in Barbados today.
Mike explains, “The highlight of my trip was the pastoral visitations, which included assisting with a Communion service for the sick. It was such a wonderful privilege ministering to those who were housebound, and representing Christ to the local St. Michael parish community.”
He added, “Those who were elderly and infirm became flooded with God’s peace as they received the tangible riches of divine grace made available through Holy Communion.”
His daughter Phoebe (10) added: “I loved seeing all the wildlife, especially swimming with the turtles, and watching the green monkey feeding time.”
Mike was able to quickly recognise the complete contrast to the tourist hotspots, with local people experiencing varying levels of poverty, which clearly has an impact on their day-to-day lives. He plans to remain in close contact with the Diocese of Barbados, and has several ideas for some fundraising initiatives to play a small part in supporting the crucial work of the cathedral church.
Reflecting on his mission visit, Mike remarks, “The summer training placement was an amazing privilege and unique opportunity to integrate studies with everyday experiences, by putting into practice what we are learning in college lectures. I am thankful for the support and wisdom of the Winchester Diocese School of Mission, who together with Wycliffe Hall and the Diocese of Barbados made this placement possible. We look forward to seeing what God has planned for us as a family, and particularly my next adventure as a curate.”
Main photo: The Trotman family at the cathedral with Dean Jeffrey Gibson