Monthly Talking Point – October 2018

This month’s edition is provided by
Reverend Derek Chandler

‘Free Pasta’

‘Is this the tent with the free pasta?’, came the question from a group of teenagers with forks at the ready in eager anticipation. It was about midnight and I was serving coffee as a volunteer at the Reading Festival in one of the Reading Street Pastors tents. I had been prepared to expect many situations as a volunteer for the weekend but this one caught me by surprise, I wondered what they meant. We were providing reasonably priced drinks, snacks, and even hot water – but free pasta? And then the penny dropped. ‘Free pasta? Oh no, but I am a Street Pastor if that is what you mean!?!’ As I said this we laughed, and they sat down to enjoy, not free pasta, but some of our delicious hot chocolate instead.

The Reading Street Pastors do fantastic work all year round in Reading and consist of Christian volunteers from many, many churches. They are held in high regard by a number of professional agencies and by young people alike. It is a trust and a respect that has been earned over several years of selfless work and Christian compassion and I experienced this trust and respect for myself when I volunteered in the Reading Street Pastors tents at the Reading Festival this summer.

Hospitality and care as a volunteer provided a number of opportunities to talk to young people, police, medical personnel and festival staff, on the two nights I was there. There was fun and there was drama but at no time did I feel at risk. If anything, most encounters were welcomed with warmth and gratitude. If they asked us to pray, we prayed, but that was usually at the end of whatever we had shared before. Despite the rumours on the campsite free pasta never came into it I’m afraid, but something far more satisfying did.

Thank you Reading Street Pastors for all that you do and thank you for inviting me to briefly be a part of it.

Reverend Derek Chandler
Vicar of St. Barnabas Church
Emmer Green with Caversham Park Church LEP