Deacon Liz Carrington talks about her boundary-crossing ministry at York racecourse.

I have been involved with chaplaincy at York racecourse for seven years. The team was initially drawn from volunteers with York Street Angels as we already had training which would be useful in another setting. We have maintained an ecumenical team of about six including and we now link with Sports Chaplaincy UK. 

Over time we have welcomed three interested volunteers whose sense of call has been strengthened by shadowing us. One was ordained priest and two have since been ordained deacon. Not a bad score!

Some people are skeptical about racing chaplaincy as they see it as an industry that promotes gambling. I usually say that I don’t know of anywhere that Jesus wouldn’t go and in any case he is always ahead of us. Chaplains everywhere are there to lend a listening ear and to share in the joys and sorrows of the workforce and the racegoers.

At the end of racing we hand out flip flops to racegoers who are finding their shoes are a bit of a challenge and stay with people who are distressed to make sure people get home safely.  The CEO of the security company employing up to 180 people on any one of York’s big race days, said of the Chaplaincy, “The work you do goes beyond God and religion”. 

Regular riding holidays were a feature of my past so I was delighted to try out this alternative exercise bike. Its the closest I’ll ever get to being a jockey.  It belongs to a Charity  – New Beginnings – that provides a supportive environment for former racehorses to adapt and learn new skills after they have finished their first career in racing. I think St Francis would approve.

Aug 2018 York Races

Please send me your deacon’s boundary-crossing story to!

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