May 19 2013 Latest news:
John Phillips, Senior Reporter
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Prominent vicar Steven Hanna has campaigned to rid the capital of the scourge of knife crime, give destitute children Christmas gifts and educate his flock about the true meaning of Christianity.
Here, the leader of St Elisabeth church in Wood Lane, Dagenham, shares his views on civil partnerships and walking the Christian path.
I’ve been the vicar of St Elisabeth’s since 2007. I’m married and have two wonderful kids. I grew up in Dagenham and went to school at Robert Clack Secondary in Gosfield Road.
Most of my life, I wasn’t a Christian. Jesus became real to me in my twenties. I am glad He did.
Like most people, I hadn’t really given Jesus a second thought. I had no contact with churches - or them with me!
I thought church was for goody-goodies or hypocrites. You still get people giving the church a bad name, calling themselves Christian but not walking as Jesus did – like bishops approving of civil partnerships. Jesus wouldn’t do that. Jesus speaks tough truths yet is still able to love people.
We seek to do that at St Elisabeth’s. I want people to come to church and hear what the Bible says - but also experience that what it says is good.
Jesus is good news for people. Jesus is God’s son yet He was a friend of sinners. He died “as a ransom for many”.
Many come to Jesus to have our lives turned around and a new eternity opened up for us.
But the goodness of Jesus needs to be known in word and deed.
When knife crime was escalating four years ago, 4,000 people signed a petition I organised asking to make it harder to sell knives to teens. The council, The Post and the community all got behind it.
Another example is Halloween. Many people don’t like trick or treating. We put on a “light party” instead.
It is safer and kids go home with more sweets than had they been on the streets!
People with Jesus in their lives ought to be good for their community. We held a toy service at Christmas to make the goodness of receiving an undeserved gift more real to people.
The same thinking is behind supporting the Dagenham food bank. People are sceptical of the Bible and its goodness but to see it in action makes it more real. Jesus is good for people - but we must help people see it for themselves.