Michaela Youngson is starting a new job later this year - though she was at pains to point out that my description of her becoming no2 in Methodist Church hierarchy wasn’t entirely accurate, as ‘hierarchy’ isn’t the way the Methodists do it! Fair enough….but it is a big role, which she’s excited about stepping into.
She’s been a Chair in the London District for the past 9 years, and will be sad to move on, but she told me about growing up in Yorkshire, in not what you might call the posh end of the village, and the acceptance and love she experienced when invited by a friend to the local church, aged 12. And then, at 16, how seeing a woman preacher in a clerical shirt, speaking at a Methodist Youth event, made her realise, quite simply, that that was what she was going to do.
Michaela’s first posts were in Lancashire, at the time when British National Party councillors were first elected to Burnley, and she talks about the role of the church in helping with community cohesion - it’s about being really good neighbours…love, she’s sure, being the best antidote to the extreme right-wing politics she experienced there.
She’s involved in all kinds of interesting interfaith groups too, bringing to them a strong sense of justice for all, and enjoying what she calls ‘God’s gift of diversity.’ She’s passionate about people across the faith groups hearing from, and learning from, each other.
And she talked about her love of fusing glass - she’s clearly something of an expert, and it sounds totally magical, the alchemy of what different coloured pieces of glass do when subjected to high temperatures in a kiln. She finds it meditative and prayerful - losing herself completely in the process - and optimistic, taking some very basic elements and making something really beautiful.
I loved meeting her and hope you do too.