Claire Robinson (55) is going on to serve Maybush and Southampton St Jude. Before being ordained, Claire served her calling through volunteering at Holy Saviour Bitterne, Southampton.
As she raised her three children, Claire assisted Bitterne with its youth work and music groups, channeling her passion for service and creativity, as well as spending many years supporting the church admin team. She also served other communities in Southampton, working with education leadership as a governor at a local church school. While Claire enjoyed and was fulfilled by this work, she always had a sense of being called to do something more. She wanted to hone her skills and stretch her wings.
Once her children had moved out of the family home, Claire decided to explore theological education. She studied for a graduate diploma at Westminster Theological Centre. Claire thoroughly enjoyed her education here, being able to study in depth topics and stories that had always inspired her. This education helped confirm her dedication to serving people, however she still remained unsure about where to take it.
A rain-filled camping holiday with friends and family a couple of years after completing her diploma was a pivotal moment for Claire. A friend recognized Claire’s calling to service and asked her why she had not sought ordination yet. This sparked a lot of soul searching for Claire, and she decided to enter the vocations process with no ideas or plans, other than feeling a deep calling to serve people.
Claire truly understood her calling while on placement in a church in Maybush, Southampton. Moving from the church she had served for several decades was a significant change for Claire, and through engaging with pastoral work with the local community, she began to truly see her calling.
Claire said: “Arriving at Maybush felt like coming home. My calling has always been to the door, not the altar and I want to meet people where they are and welcome them in. The Liturgy of Ordination speaks of ‘reaching into the forgotten corners of the world that the love of God may be made visible’ and I have really felt I can do that here.”
At Maybush, Claire has led services, focusing on outreach beyond the Sunday service. She started a drop-in coffee morning, and worked to connect with older members of the congregation during the pandemic lockdowns. More recently, Claire’s husband, Phil, has joined the Maybush congregation – they are really glad to be worshipping and serving together again as her training draws to a close.
Most recently, she launched a new foodbank marketplace at All Saints Redbridge, called the Millbrook Marketplace, in partnership with the Southampton City Mission. Founded in May 2022, the foodbank is in its early stages but has already come to be a welcoming space for members to access good quality healthy food as well as to meet and share their stories. As she continues her service at Maybush and Southampton St Jude, she is hoping to expand this community project into other forms of life, especially mental and emotional wellbeing.