Tuesday was a difficult day. Carole Paulson, one of the key volunteers from the Children’s and Youth Work, from where I worked in Essex was recently killed in a road traffic accident, at the young age of 63. It was completely unexpected, and seemed incredibly unfair – she was a great servant to the local community: managing a local pre-school, and during a time when the church has no Children’s and Youth Worker was co-ordinating much of the children’s work. She was a valuable deacon with great wisdom, a real praying heart, a useful worship leader and a fantastic sense of joy.
Her thanksgiving service was yesterday and I was asked to speak at it in relation to her work with children and young people. Below is a copy of what I said:
I wanted to say how much I treasured working with Carole. In all my time in children’s and youth work she was the best children’s and youth volunteer I’ve ever worked with. Her passion and heart for young people to meet with Jesus was outstanding.
When I’m asked to speak about children’s and youth work, the passage I often use is Psalm 78:
We will not hide them [the truths] from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statues for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded for our ancestors
to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but they would keep his commands.
Carole encapsulated, lived out, Carole was completely that vision: so many of us are aware of her not just reaching one generation in a family, but two or three generations in families. She truly had an impact on the local community, both here at Hutton and Shenfield Union Church, but also through the pre-school at the Hutton Free Church.
I want to use 3 words to briefly develop that: Christ, character and commitment. First and foremost Carole loved Jesus Christ and loved sharing the timeless truths of the gospel in new inspiring and relevant ways. In the Younger Church (Kids 4 Christ) on a Sunday morning she was passionate about retelling the Biblical stories in a way that a biblically illiterate generation would engage with: through story telling, through art, through discussion.
Secondly, her character always struck the young people. In the last three years we worked with some young people with difficult backgrounds, who for a number of reasons didn’t get rules or respect. And yet they would listen to Carole because she was godly, fun, calm, consistent with them. They knew where they stood with her, and some of our most troubled young people responded greatly to her because of that character.
And lastly, her incredible commitment. She would gave tremendous amount of time and energy, not just to the actual groups she helped with, but in supporting the leaders – both the volunteers and myself. She was the kind of person who thought nothing to pre-preparing a craft activity at home throughout the week, or of coming in for an extra day to sort out the equipment cupboards, and get a craft order put in. And she didn’t just do this for a year or two, Carole had pretty much done this all her life.
As I finish I will always remember the way in which she described how she used to watch Top of the Pops so that she would understand and know some of the music the young people used to listen to. It was that kind of attitude, that kind of character that made her such a great children’s and youth volunteer.
She modelled Christ, character and commitment, and encapsulated the Biblical vision for children’s and youth work. Carole was a true inspiration to work with. It is Hannah and my joy to know that she is with God, and Brian we will be continuing to pray for you and the family in this time.