EDITOR'S NOTE: Baptist Press' London bureau, in tandem with Tim Ellsworth, editor of BP Sports and director of news and media relations at Union University, will be providing coverage of London Olympics. Baptist Press will publish features about Christian athletes in the Olympics, recap results of their competition and cover initiatives to share the Gospel during the Summer Games and within the U.K.'s cultural milieu.
REDHILL, England (BP) -- Snow is not a common sight in southern England, but it dusts the town's old stone church more frequently than it once did.
Lizzie Baker is getting accustomed to seeing it blanket the town from time to time, much like political correctness.
"There are growing dangers of having to water down your faith to be acceptable in this culture," said Baker, a youth worker at Holy Trinity Church in Redhill, U.K. "It's a postmodern society. There is no truth. 'Whatever you believe, that's fine' -- that's the pervasive thought."
But it's another thought entirely that keeps the youth worker venturing out every week to nearby schools to talk to teenagers.
"We know we have a God who is God over all," she said.
And she'd like for these students to meet Him.
In some respects, the spiritual landscape of England doesn't look too different from that of the States, Baker said. British people put great stock in security -- money, family, cars and houses.
"It's really hard for people to see that they need God when they have built such self-sufficiency," she said.
But one factor is different from the U.S. There's no separation of church and state. This is seen as a blessing by some and as a curse by others, Baker said.
She chooses to see it as a blessing.
With the Church of England's government ties comes a state requirement that schools teach religion, and that allows Baker access to classrooms and assemblies. She teaches the Gospel message, the tenets of the faith, and sometimes holds reflection times for the student body with prayer and devotionals.
The arrangement comes with the catch that other religions, not just Christianity, can be taught, which "is really, really hard, because then you are just one voice amongst many," Baker said. "You have to caveat everything you say with 'as a Christian I believe,' or 'as the Bible says.'"
But it opens doors to talk to teenagers, so she considers it an opportunity.
She looks similarly at the Church of England congregation where she serves. Continued...