Friday, September 07, 2012

Rev'd Nick Barr-Hamilton: Anglican Paracleric

His Grace is fully aware that this post will not attract 5000 hits or 300+ comments. But sometimes a story just needs telling. And in the context of the outstanding and utterly astonishing performance of #ParalympicsGB - during which the names of Peacock, Weir, Simmonds and Storey have blazed across the firmament as brightly as those of Ennis, Farrah, Murray and Rutherford - His Grace thought he would tell you of another disabled star - a humble Anglican clergyman who has defied disability to follow his vocation after breaking his neck as a boy.

The Reverend Nick Barr-Hamilton will win no medals and receive no adulation as he takes up his post as Vicar of St George, Fatfield, Washington, in the Diocese of Durham. But a paracleric deserves just as much admiration as a paralympian, even if the Paralympics move and inspire us more than the Paracclesia Anglicana ever will.

A wheelchair-user, Nick was severely injured playing rugby as a teenager and says the experience eventually brought him to the Ministry. He said: “As a teenager, I was highly active, playing rugby at north midlands division level and working towards the Duke of Edinburgh Gold award. I was an NCO in the Army Cadets and was keen to join the Marines. However, when I was 16, I broke my neck playing rugby. The spinal injury put a stop to my outward bound activities and plans, and also turned me very much against God for a time.

“At University, I made some Christian friends with whom I spent over a year arguing against Christianity. I was studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge at the time and the more I looked into how everything works, the more I became convinced that there must be a Creator, a designer behind evolution.

“Eventually, I ran out of arguments against the person of Jesus and, after a realisation that there is more to life than just the here and now, God brought me to give my life to Jesus.

“After University, I spent a year unemployed, finally ending up in London as a fund manager. I became very involved in a church near where I worked and after several years of leading Bible studies, evangelistic groups and helping in pastoral work, a friend thought I should consider full time ministry.”

After his City job came to an end in 2003, he was given the opportunity to work unpaid as a parish assistant in Hull for two years and went forward to be selected for Ordination. After three years studying at theological college, he became a Curate in Middlesbrough and how has been given his own parish.

He said: “My biggest challenges have been the obvious struggles of achieving, particularly when I was in education then working on the City, despite the prejudice and physical obstacles that a full-time wheelchair user faces, as well as simply keeping going when life gets hard because of pain and frustrations with a dysfunctional body.”

One of his key passions is young people. He said: “The work of which I am most proud is youth work and working with children, which I love. The difference a real faith makes to young people’s lives is hugely encouraging. During my work in Ministry, I hope to help people see the ongoing relevance and love of Christ in all that we do as a church and that everyone will live sacrificially and considerately, creating strong community and hope where there are many difficulties and daily struggles.

“What gets me out of bed in the morning is the knowledge that life can far too easily be a meaningless race without time to take stock and constantly chasing after things that we cannot keep, and often lose far too easily. It’s about knowing that Jesus really can offer something far greater than we often even desire.”

As you watch our Paralympians rise to inspire a generation of disabled children to achieve glory with their broken bodies, remember this Paracleric is healing broken souls. His medal is in heaven.

Photograph by: Keith Blundy / Aegies Associates

33 Comments:

Blogger Preacher said...

The man's a champion, we need more like him. What a testimony.
Brother your story should bring hope to the hurting & humility to the proud.

Blessings. Preacher.

7 September 2012 at 09:35  
Blogger Dave said...

Many years ago I holidayed in Caister and worshipped at the nearby Baptist chapel at Ormesby. The minister was Craig Ormesby and is/was a thalidomide victim. He is an inspirational man, an excellent preacher and author. We played beach volleyball at a social gathering and he was lethal despite his very short arms and lack of fingers.
http://www.ficm.org.uk/prof/craig-millward

7 September 2012 at 09:55  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

What a fantastic testimony. I love these sort all the more because they really aggravate the Dawkins of this world : after all, how can they possibly believe in a God of love when their lives are so far from being perfect?!!

Nick Vujicic still remains one of the most inspirational evangelists I've ever encountered though.

7 September 2012 at 11:03  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Incidentally, just reminded me of a message I did many years ago on "Jesus the Paraplegic" based on Col 1v18, and this poem by St. Teresa

"Christ has no body now on earth , but yours,
No hands but yours,
No feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which is to look out Christ’s compassion to the world;
Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good;
Yours are the hands with which He is to bless men now."

7 September 2012 at 11:14  
Blogger Gerhard Swart said...

Thank you for the post HG, truly inspiring..

7 September 2012 at 11:19  
Blogger Timjam68 said...

Yes, all very well but what are his views on gays?

7 September 2012 at 11:47  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

@ Rebel Saint

I love these sort all the more because they really aggravate the Dawkins of this world : after all, how can they possibly believe in a God of love when their lives are so far from being perfect?!!

Oh, I'm sure the logically superior atheist mind will find a way.

7 September 2012 at 12:06  
Blogger John Chater said...

Thank you, Your Grace, for providing the Reverend Barr-Hamilton with some much deserved acclaim.

I hope that the church will realise what an asset he is to Christianity, as he has found answers to the two most pressing questions confronting the faith today: namely, why do bad things happen to good people, and is it possible to believe in Christ in an age of scientific reason?

What we need, desperately need, is for intelligent and educated men and women, people who are able to lucidly and convincingly make the case for Christianity, to be given access to the public spaces. What is necessary is a concerted and organised effort made by the Christian denominations, singly or together, to get people like the Reverend Barr-Hamilton onto secular programmes like Question Time and The Today Programme, and also faux-religious shows like The Big Question. His influence, especially on the questioning young, could be profound.

It's wonderful that he has been given a parish, but the public arena beckons, for him and those like him. Let's home somebody in charge has the foresight to realise it.

7 September 2012 at 13:19  
Blogger Kennywhizz said...

Well.
All I can see is some guy who seems to think that believing in non-existent things will make everything better??

His disabilities are an irellevance surely.

I despair sometimes.

7 September 2012 at 15:06  
Blogger David Lonsdale said...

Come in thou good and faithful servant. Here are ten cities.

7 September 2012 at 15:18  
Blogger John Chater said...

An astonishingly stupid comment Kenny; no wonder you are desperate.

You have no way of knowing if what he believes in is existent or not and, I suspect, no qualifications for decreeing one way or the other.

It is precisely to overcome the complacent stupidity of critics such as yourself that I advocate more time and space is given to the likes of the Reverend Barr-Hamilton Clearly, you could learn a great deal from him.

7 September 2012 at 15:20  
Blogger William said...

Kennywhizz

"His disabilities are an irellevance surely."

Maybe to you, but not to him.

"I despair sometimes."

Why don't you give the good reverend a call - he may be able to help you with that.

7 September 2012 at 15:21  
Blogger Alissa1989 said...

Thank you, Your Grace.

David Lonsdale - I think you are so right there.

7 September 2012 at 15:24  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...



Your Grace. What has happened to this chap is a tragedy, and one can only marvel at his determination to go on, and in the process, not only find God but to actively serve Him too.

It has always struck the Inspector how absorbing modern life can be to many, in as much as they live superficial lives. This is using the word in its proper grammatical setting and not as a slur. It’s life without a spiritual depth, and even then, that’s using that word not necessarily in a religious manner. Rather, a connection with one’s own soul, to appreciate the higher levels of consciousness, if you will.

This is the mission for Christians. To get the masses thinking beyond the immediate, the TV, in other words, beyond the obvious. To inform there is a reason why we are here, and it’s nothing to do with our own gratification. We are programmed to appreciate a higher state, it’s just a question of switching it on, engaging the process. As it is, for many, the default state is celebrity worship. What a damn poor life that will lead to…







7 September 2012 at 16:54  
Blogger Simon said...

Amongst all the arguing over various petty irrelevancies which blights 21st century western Christianity, it is delightful to read, for once, a story that is nothing but the Gospel in action. Many thanks for bringing Rev'd Nick Barr-Hamilton to our attention, Your Grace. May God bless him and his ministry.

7 September 2012 at 17:35  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Atheist Counseling by Kennywhizz

"So you broke your neck, and now you're in a wheel chair. Well, tough luck for you. There aren't any angels to make it better. You won't find any meaning or purpose behind it so don't bother looking. It just is."

Is it any wonder that atheism and suicide go hand in hand as mated twins?

carl

7 September 2012 at 18:26  
Blogger non mouse said...

Thank you, Your Grace. An outstanding story that shows how faith develops and strengthens through thinking and experience.

Thanks also for excellent responses, Mr. Chater and William.

I don't see how the supposedly logical Kennywhizz arrives at "the Rev. Barr-Hamilton seems to think that believing in non-existent things will make everything better" ... The Paracleric [ :) ]
is clearly far too intelligent not to have understood that his spinal injury is physically irreversible by human agency; and he would also be capable of perceiving that miracles occur in mysterious ways-not always dramatically. We have no indication that the Rev. defines "making everything better" in the same terms as Kennywhizz.

Your Grace's timing on this is brilliant. I hope awareness of this man's accomplishment now snowballs.

7 September 2012 at 18:27  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

The Inspector has been doing a bit of searching on Kennywhizz. The fellow is 65 years old ! he admits this on a post to Obnoxio the clown.

There was the Inspector thinking he was aged 17.

Funny old world, what !

7 September 2012 at 19:08  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

Well.
All I can see is some guy who seems to think that believing in non-existent things will make everything better??

His disabilities are an irellevance surely.

I despair sometimes.



There you go, Rebel Saint; what did I tell you?

7 September 2012 at 19:39  
Blogger len said...

The' book of Job' comes to mind when I see Christians suffering misfortunes whether this be physical or emotional.
It is one thing to praise God when one is fit and well and the World seems to be a great place.
But when misfortune strikes it really tests ones faith and belief in the goodness of our Creator many have fallen by the wayside when adversity strikes.
That one can see beyond personal misfortunes and disabilities and reach out to others is a triumph of the Spirit which is quite humbling.

There will be no gold medals for Rev'd Nick Barr-Hamilton ,no moment of fame on the TV,but his reward will be far greater in Heaven when Jesus says
"Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come, share my joy."

(Matthew 25:14-30)




7 September 2012 at 20:09  
Blogger John Magee said...

Reading this story a was transfusion of hope my spiritual system needed today, and proof that Jesus Christ, Our Savior, changes can proufoundly change lives in so many wonderful ways. After the depressing article I read earlier this morning about the atheist Richard Dawkins trashing religion again in an interview about Creationism, a concept and people whom he loaths, he said this: "I don't think religion has anything to teach us". I beg your pardon Mr Dawkins. Read this young man's story and you will have proof that religion and Christ have everything positive and hopeful to teach the entire human race.

God bless this good man and Anglican priest the Reverent Nick Barr-Hamilton. I hope he is considers writing his autobiograpy one of these days and perhaps Christian inspirational books in the future. He has an atheist background and conversion to Christianity similar to the great Anglican and professor of English at Oxford Universtiy the writer C.S.Lewis. Lewis gave us so many inspiring books about Christian Apologetics.

7 September 2012 at 21:03  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Christian Russia didn't fare well against the scum who are destroying Britain today and they fought a real war, with brave fighting men

Ironside had better be willing to preach the truth

7 September 2012 at 22:11  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Rebel Saint, an excellent prayer by a Saint Teresa (1515–1582).

The full poem is wonderful and in the context of this blog reminds us that God calls people from all backgrounds and inspires them with His Spirit.

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

7 September 2012 at 22:47  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Ah, Dodo the shrewd Dude , good to see you old fellow. It’s as if a battleship has sailed in...


7 September 2012 at 22:55  
Blogger John Magee said...

Dodo.

I read selected writings of those two great Spanish Saints, Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross (who atcually knew each other) a long time ago before I was a Catholic and was deeply impressed by their spirituality. Both of their lives and writings influenced the German Jewish philosopher and now Saint, Edith Stein, to become a Roman Catholic and later a Carmelite nun. Have you ever read St John of the Cross's poem, "The Dark Night of The Soul?

His poem narrates the journey of the soul from its bodily home to its union with God. The journey is called "The Dark Night", because darkness represents the hardships and difficulties the soul meets in detachment from the world and reaching the light of the union with the Creator.

I love those Carmelites.

Especially another one who lived four hundred years after St Teresa de Avila also named Therese who died in 1897. St. Therese de Lisieux.

Even as a child and not a Catholic ( I was always a crypto Papist at heart) I loved St. Therese de Lisieux even though I hardly knew anything about her. My Grandmother sent me a holy card of St Therese de Lisieux holding a crucifix and roses and also a short story of her life. I didn't read her autobiography, "The Story of a Soul" she wrote while on her death bed dying of TB, until a few years ago.

This young French Carmelite nun who died at 24 in a remote Carmelite cloisterd convent in Normandy, France was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul II.

Are you familiar with the German mystic and Stigmatic Theresa Neumann? Her life story is amazing and her stigmata and visions are thoroughly documented by catholic and non Catholics. During her trances of the Passion of Jesus and his death on the cross and as she bled from her hands, feet, wounds on the head and right side she spoke in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke. She had other visions of Jesus's life nd spoke in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. This from a simple peasant with little education who lived in a farming village in Southern Germany. She died in 1962.

8 September 2012 at 03:31  
Blogger John Magee said...

I meant to say Pope John Paul II.

8 September 2012 at 04:12  
Blogger Tony B said...

The Reverend's argument from the complexity of the world to God is certainly a tempting one. But what interests me is how people maintain this in the face of the evils of this world. The universe, if designed, has been designed as a cold and brutal place, largely inhospitable to life and containing immensely destructive forces. And then there is the evil in men's hearts also. On more optimistic days I believe in God. Christianity takes a bigger stretch.

But certainly, boo to the Dawkinsians of this world and the shallowness of the "meh! Evolution! " response.

8 September 2012 at 07:01  
Blogger Martin Sewell said...

The Revd John Naude of Waterlooville is another inspirational wheelchair priest who has done much to help Churches understand and develop an inclusive Ministry.

8 September 2012 at 08:13  
Blogger Tim Dixon said...

I've met Nick several times, he's an inspiring guy - great post.

8 September 2012 at 13:12  
Blogger John Magee said...

Tony

There is nothing difficult about Jesus's message in the Gospels and it applies to all people, for all time, until the end the last days. He taught us to care unselfishly for our neighbors and forgive those who harm us. The meaning of His death is redemption for the entire human race. In other words He gives us hope in that cold, dark, brutal, and methodical universe you mentioned. Christians call those things, when applied to life, Origina Sin. On your more optimistc days read the Gospels and when you do you will have more optimistic days ahead then dark ones.

8 September 2012 at 15:32  
Blogger len said...

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just a 'social' Gospel.If that is all it is to you then you have missed the Gospel..... entirely.

The Gospel is God bringing the end of the old creation and the birth of a new creation.The death of the 'old man' and the birth of the' new man'.

This of course is an over simplification of the Gospel but God has made man anew in Christ Jesus.God see us as either 'in Adam' old creation or 'in Christ' new creation.This of course refers to our spiritual condition because God is (of course) Spirit.

This is why Jesus Christ said"We MUST be born again(from above) to be able to see the Kingdom of Heaven.
Without this re-birth we are blind, deaf, and dumb, to the reality of God and His Kingdom.



9 September 2012 at 21:18  
Blogger Naomi King said...

Isn't it about time schools stopped teaching rugby ? My husband is an ex rugby player and he has done a huge amount of damage to his body. Fortunately our son is not interested because he says, "It hurts" even though he enjoys and is very good at many other sports.

9 September 2012 at 22:26  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...


Mrs King, the Inspector was ‘obliged’ to play rugby at school. The biggest fear of injury was a scrum collapse. And that was when we were schoolboys, not the 20 stone colossus types that play professionally. However, you will have a very hard time campaigning to take the scrum out of Rugby Union...

9 September 2012 at 22:52  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older