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Reform Magazine | May 21, 2024

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I am... a working class Christian - Reform Magazine

I am… a working class Christian

Natalie Williams on the hurdles facing a working class Christian

I grew up in Hastings, which a national newspaper once called Hell-on-Sea. It’s a lovely seaside town, but it’s the 13th most deprived part of the country. I grew up in a 16th-floor council flat. No central heating, one phone between the whole block, free school meals. I wasn’t really aware that we were in poverty because everyone around me was in the same situation. My dad went from job to job – Bejams, which is now Iceland, a taxi driver, a double glazing salesman, being out of work.

I first went to church because I liked a boy, I wasn’t spiritually seeking. I was really shocked because I had an image in my head of what church would be like and it just wasn’t like that at all. There was a lot of singing and clapping and hands in the air. I was like: What is all this about? I couldn’t tell you why I kept going other than the grace of God. It certainly wasn’t because of the boy, because I stopped liking him when I realised how Christian he was.

I found church difficult to understand. Even after I became a Christian, the longer I was in church, the less I understood the culture. There were all these unwritten rules that everyone around me knew about and I didn’t. It felt like a minefield of potential faux pas…

Natalie Williams is Chief Executive of Jubilee Plus. The charity’s conference ‘Churches that Change Communities’ is on 12 November. See jubilee-plus.org/conference

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This is an extract from an article published in the September 2022 edition of Reform

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