For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
— John's Gospel, chapter 3 verse 16

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Ruth Barwise

Who are you and what family do you have?

I’m Ruth Barwise and I’m married to Jim. We have three sons – James (28), David (25) and Michael (22). They live in Cambridge, London and Kendal.

How long have you been coming to St Bridget’s?

35+ years: we moved to Lowca in July 1983 following our wedding at Isel near Cockermouth. We were not regulars then but often came to the evening service when Walter Wade was the vicar. We also attended services at Isel and at St Andrew’s, Mirehouse which was Jim’s home church.

Why do you come to St Bridget’s?

At first it was because it was our “local”. But when James became Sunday School age we decided to attend regularly. That was during Guy Thorburn’s time and we enjoyed the worship and the friendliness of the people there. It has become a second home to us now and we love the supportiveness of being part of a church family. Our boys have had so many “grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins” and friends through us being members of the church here.

How long have you been a Christian?

Growing up in Ennerdale the church was central to village life. I attended Sunday School and later helped teach other children. I sang in the choir and even helped clean the church! I was a Christian. When we moved to Dovenby I attended the nearest church which was at Bridekirk but when I was 17 we moved to Cockermouth and so began a falling away from going to church altogether. When I went to University in Liverpool I definitely didn’t have anything to do with the chapel or God it seemed! But three years into my four year course my dad died quite unexpectedly at the age of 56. That was a watershed moment and saw me gradually turn back to God. I attended Isel church regularly. But I didn’t become a true Christian until I opened my heart up to Jesus. That was after a “Just Looking” course with Guy. That was probably 25 years ago and I’ve never looked back.

What does your faith mean to you?

It’s been so humbling to find out that God chose me before he even made the world. My faith is my rock. There used to be times when I would wake in the night and panic thinking that death is the end. But now I know that it is only the end of this chapter of my life here on earth. I know I have something more amazing to look forward to.

Who has been a big influence on you?

Jim, my best friend for 40+ years now; as we’ve journeyed through life together he has always helped me see the other side of situations and how as a Christian we should approach whatever life puts in front of us. His deep faith and the way he responds to people has and continues to be such a big influence in my life.

What is your favourite hymn and why?

I love to sing with other people and that is a favourite part of my worship time at St Bridget’s. I have hymns that remind me of different times in my life. I think the last hymn of any service should be an uplifting one that you sing for the rest of the day. A definite favourite would be “Jesus shall take the highest honour”.

What is your favourite book / verse of the Bible?

Again so much to choose from; another watershed moment in my life was giving birth to our sons. When you hold that little miracle in your arms you ponder on what is and will be. So whenever I hear Luke 2:19 “Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” I really feel an empathy with Mary from one mother to another. We all store up things in our hearts which we ponder over; and you don’t necessarily have to be a mother.

What does Heaven look like to you?

It is a place full of joy and happiness where I will see Jesus face to face.

Do you have an amusing story connected to St. Bridget's?

When our boys were going through Sunday school they took part in some cracking plays. We always had one on Christmas Eve and one in July. They went through church with a great group of children including Lucy, Michael, Amelia, Joe, Jessica, Hannah, Laura, James, Ruth, Jack, Grace ….. and a whole lot of others! It got that they began to write their own plays. One summer they came up with “Priscilla and Aquilla’s tent making boutique”. The church was transformed with the choir stalls packed with popup tents. What the congregation didn’t realise was that David was hiding in the pulpit dressed as a vicar. At the appropriate moment in the play the vicar had to appear to Priscilla and Aquilla. So up popped David who caused quite a stir – it made people jump and it took a long time for the laughter to die down! It was talked about for a long long time after that!

What would you change about St Bridget’s if you could?

Nothing! St Bridget’s keeps changing and responding in a positive way to meet new challenges and situations. I love the people here who have enriched my life far beyond words can express. Couldn’t imagine life without you all!