We're delighted that Stephen Curtis is joining the staff team at St John's as Stepney Intern for the year 2018-19. Stephen is known to many of us already, as he has been a member of St John's for the past year and a half. He came across St John's through an existing church member, Bethan Mitchell - who he met while they were studying on an MA course at the Royal College of Art. We caught up with him to find out a bit about him...
- What's your favourite food?
This is easy- my dad makes the most delicious roast gammon with cheesy potatoes and all the trimmings. To be honest it’s not the food that makes this my favourite meal (although it is great) but the feeling of coming home and sitting down with my family.
- What's your dream holiday?
I love cities and history and being able to wonder along old streets so a week in Venice or Florence or somewhere else that’s ancient.
- Tell us about your favourite book(s)
I’ve got a couple so it depends what sort of mood I’m in. My absolute favourite is Iron Council by China Mieville, it’s a gloriously complicated book and is technically the third part in a trilogy but can stand alone really well. Mieville has a vast imagination and tells very complicated stories that are about a hundred things at once. Iron Council is about democracy and hope, what makes us human and how actions can be simultaneously futile and revolutionary.
For nostalgia I reread the Wheel of Time books frequently. They’re cheesy fantasy (and not wonderful) but have a space in my heart because my brothers handed them down to me.
- What difference has Jesus made in your life?
Jesus has made all the difference. I left the church when I was about 17 and was determined to live my life my own way. It’s a real blessing to be able to look back over that time away from Jesus and see how he used it to shape me and grow my need for him so that when the time was right I could return and find my home in him again. Jesus really chased me down and tackled me (in the form of a bear hug from a tiny Welshman) in order to bring me home. In the process he completely upset my studies, my social life and sense of self only to reconstruct them all again to centre around him.
Since then everything has changed. I’ve gained a whole new family in the church and really seen how God has shaped every one of their lives.
- Marmite: love it or hate it?
Meh, I don’t choose it but I don’t hate.
- Tell us something you think is unusual, funny or surprising about you - maybe a story or a weird habit.
….I voluntarily listen to sea shanties when I’m working.
When I was at uni a good friend of mine sat opposite me and he was doing a project about sea shanties and how they could be rewritten for modern day scenarios so we just had them on constantly and I found they really work for me and would worm inside my brain. They are designed to help people do tedious and back breaking work aboard a ship and I found they helped me focus really well.
- What makes you thankful?
My family, my church, my girlfriend and the forgiveness God has shown me and his desire to bring me home to his love.
- Who or what is precious to you?
My niece, she’s nearly two and every minute with her is a blessing.
There’s also the Sunday school answer (doesn’t stop it being true) which is the knowledge of God’s love and forgiveness.
- What's your favourite song / band / album / genre of music?
Hmmmm, I like a lot of things, generally folky music but it has to have a beat. My favourite song at the moment is the acoustic version of How Long by Flatfoot 56 on their Vancouver Sessions EP. That’s quite a deep dive into obscure acoustic versions of christian punk songs though so I also love Roo Panes (it was one of his concerts that first bought me to St Johns.)
My favourite non-Christian album is Falling Faster Then You Can Run by Nathaniel Rateliff. I also love the soundtrack to Hamilton.
I’m a really big podcast person, everything from No Such Thing as a Fish, Good Christian Fun (not as cheesy as it sounds) to the super geeky end of the spectrum like Titan up the Defence.
- Tell us your favourite passage of Scripture and why you it’s important to you.
Luke 5:1-15 without a doubt. I went through a difficult time while studying for an MA in a subject I didn’t believe in anymore and this passage really helped me through it. It’s when Jesus calls his first disciples and he preaches to a crowd of people on the shore of a lake in Israel. Afterwards he instructs Peter and his brothers to sail out onto the lake and go fishing. Peter says the most beautiful thing in response ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’ Suddenly Peters nets are so full that he has to call to the other boats for help. For me it’s a wonderful example of how to trust God in my work and my exhaustion, how following him even when you really don’t want to always has worth.