Life in Community
Life in Community is deeply rewarding, immensely challenging and extremely varied. We may live in relative seclusion at the end of a rural no through road, but the world comes to us! Our life together is the foundation of a ministry creating good quality space for the many guests we welcome.
We are a lay community. We're here because day by day we see those wearied and wounded in the service of the church whose lives are mended and changed. Because the place is beautiful and brings delight to those from all walks of life seeking refreshment and renewal. Because every day is different and we have so many opportunities to be stretched and grow. Because our ministry is specialist and unique. Because we can be flexible, innovative and pioneering in the ways we live out our calling to support people in ministry. We're here because it is God who calls us.
In our Community life we experience both continuity and change. We are still recognisably the same Community that was established in 1991, and are still regularly adapting in creative ways to changing needs and circumstances. Some of our members are long-serving, including some of the early founders whose life at Sheldon goes back 40 years. Some undertake shorter commitments of a few years before moving on.
The current (August 2023) makeup of our Community is
- Sarah Horsman (Warden)
- Carl Lee (Lay Chaplain) and Sue Lee
- Hillary Hanson (Cellarer)
- Jan Kaye (Housekeeper)
- Esther Nyame (Hosteller)
We've each introduced ourselves with a short video.
- Karen Stead (Housekeeper designate)
You might want to consider Community because ...
- You're wondering if God is nudging you towards a radical new challenge in your life
- You want an opportunity to focus your faith and your work together
- You have a generous heart for serving others
- You enjoy collaborating as part of a small and committed team
Character qualities to which we aspire ...
- Prayerful and faithful. Our Christian faith is the essential underpinning of our life and ministry. It doesn't need to be 100% conventional but it does need to be 100% serious.
- Open-minded, sensitive, inclusive and compassionate. The needs and circumstances of guests are varied and sometimes challenging. We welcome each as they are.
- Focused, hard working, responsible. We are a relatively small team and a lot of our work is time critical so everyone needs to pull together.
- Well-organised with attention to detail. A willingness to give care into the many small details that go to make up a good experience for each guest.
- Supportive, flexible, co-operative. Stuff happens. Circumstances change. Sometimes we have to sit lightly to our roles or our status and may need to cover or support someone else.
- Calm, self-sufficient, cheerful, stable. It helps when we can take stresses in our stride and take ourselves with a pinch of salt.
- Respectful of boundaries and rigorous in maintaining confidentiality
Practical details of our life together
As members of the Community we each make Sheldon our home, make a commitment to the shared life of the Community and have a defined role serving in the charity's ministry. The details of the shape of our lives varies as we adapt together to needs and circumstances.
As a lay community the presumption is that applicants for longer term membership will not be ordained, but this is not a bar for volunteering or living alongside community.
Modest living quarters are provided as part of our remuneration including at least one private room plus bathroom and kitchen facilities which may be either independent or shared. The basic running costs of heating, lighting and maintaining our living quarters are covered by the charity. There is a mix of our own personal furnishings and equipment and ones that the charity has provided for us. Living at Sheldon is a requirement for Community members for the fulfilment of our roles.
Our food is provided as part of our remuneration. A few regular meals we share together as a Community and some are shared with guests as part of our ministry of hospitality. At other times we cook for ourselves individually. Some of our food is bought in bulk, we each have a small patch of vegetable garden we can cultivate, and we share regular supermarket deliveries.
Our pattern of prayer includes daily midweek morning and evening communal services shared with guests. The Eucharist is celebrated about once a month. A time of sharing and prayer private to the community is held one evening a week. We share a short retreat together each year. Sheldon is the place where we inhabit and express our membership of church. Provision may be available for those who wish to attend services in local churches up to once a month (by changing your day off to a Sunday) but the nature of our life and work means that engaged membership of a local congregation is not practical.
Our standard working week is 6 days. We have one evening a week for Community time, an average of 3 evenings where we are on call and work a couple of hours, and the other 3 are free to do as we please. All members have a standard 5.6 weeks of paid holiday allowance, with additional days accruing with longer service. Our working time includes Community meetings and some shared activities that are recreational. If a member is signed unfit for work, their personal allowance continues to be paid and the charity receives any statutory sick pay. We have a history of providing generous leave in response to needs such as bereavement but this is not contractual. Membership of the Community may be for any length of time after serving a probationary period of up to 2 years. We make additional provision for members who serve 10 years or more and then wish to retire/resettle away from Sheldon, or wish to make Sheldon their home during their later years. We each have a role description which is reviewed each year. The general pattern is for people to deepen their expertise in one particular area while also assisting in others. Roles can sometimes change significantly, especially in response to changes in the ministry, changes in the size and shape of the team, or changes in the capacity of the member.
Most of us receive a personal allowance (net value currently £555/month). Class A National Insurance contributions are paid and contributions to NEST pension fund increase with years of service. Some community members are self-supporting. Many of our other living expenses are covered in kind, such as shared access to laundry facilities, telephones and pool cars. Members may bring their own car but are then expected to use that for their personal trips, are responsible for covering the running costs and required to put at least one other member on their insurance.