Meet Vernon, he is our pastor at the Harrogate Hub….
This week I got to hear some of his story and find out about his experience of life in Harrogate.
He left America to come to England in 1980 with his family. “I had no money for a plane ticket. I had to sell our things, even bits of pipe from our basement, which I took to the scrapstore! But when I got to England, God opened up a lot of doors for me.” Vernon ended up helping at the chapel of an American military base, and he eventually got ordained.
Many years later, and he’s now volunteering at the Harrogate Hub. He bumped into Executive Director, Jo-Ann, at a meeting in February last year. And in suitably Harrogatian fashion, they met up again at Betty’s to have a chat. “I invited Jo-Ann to speak about the Hub at our church. Then I went on the Hub pastoral training course and some time later Jo-Ann asked the question, ‘Will you be the pastor of the Hub?’”
Vernon said yes and he’s now in the Hub several days a week, listening and supporting the people who come through the doors.
“Harrogate has everything, but it didn’t have a christian centre. I wanted to get involved with the Hub, because it’s non-denominational and it’s reaching out to help people.”
“People underestimate the needs of Harrogate. People outside the town often think there’s no need in Harrogate, but I’ve been pastoring here since 1995 and there is a lot of need. There are people with addictions and people who are homeless.”
Interestingly, Vernon didn’t even really realise loneliness was an issue in Harrogate until he started volunteering at the Hub. It’s not something people talk about very often. “This befriending service was a new idea to me. Loneliness wasn’t something I had thought about much. Now I’m at the Hub, I’m surprised by all the people who come in. They just need someone to talk to, a good listener, someone who can sympathise.’
“A man came into the Hub yesterday, and he felt lighter when he left here. As a pastoral carer, you have to listen to people. And you have to listen to what God puts on your heart. A lot of the time, people’s issues are emotional and you need God’s wisdom to say the right things. You want people to know that they have a purpose.”
Could you help us meet the hidden needs of Harrogate?
We want to extend our opening hours to reach out to many more lonely, isolated people in our community. We’re looking for 400 people to give £10 a month to help us reach our fundraising target, so we can continue to support those who need it most.
Check out our 20:20 campaign for more details.