My name is Jude Maher, and my dad has been Vicar at The Church of the Good Shepherd for almost eight years.

I’m fifteen years old and throughout my life I’ve been brought up in a Christian home with a church background.

Personally, I find this a very positive thing as there is so much you can gain from a church background, like meeting new people and being able to talk openly about issues which you may not discuss in a non-Christian home.

When I was born, I lived with my mum and dad in a flat in Durham where my dad was a student. At around the age of one or two, we moved to Hounslow where my dad became curate at St Paul’s Church.

This is where I have my earliest memories of church.

It was a lovely big church with lots of children and families, and it was here that I made my first proper friend Laura – who I’m very happy to say is still one of my closest friends today!

It was here I first went to a religious school – The Blue School in Isleworth.

We would frequently have assemblies about God. We would say prayers in assembly and before lunch, and often sang songs about God.

After Hounslow we moved to Staines where we lived for three years. It was always the Church that chose where we lived, and of course our houses – they come with the job.

Until we relocated to Cambridge, moving was never really a problem as I managed to stay at the same school, which I felt very lucky about. Some families have to move further afield because of the curacies and new jobs.

So the move to Cambridge was a big change. I remember feeling sad because I would have to start a new school, but in reality it was a good thing. And I knew we had close families and friends who were praying for and supporting us, which made us very lucky.

My second school, Arbury Primary School was brilliant, however not a faith school. There were children and teachers of all different religions. But being in the parish of our (new) church, which is still our church today, meant that when there was anything to do with a Christianity, it was always my dad running it.

At the time I loved this, however I might find it a bit embarrassing now! My dad would come in and do RE lessons and assemblies, and occasionally as a class or school we would go and visit the church.

As a child I enjoyed our church, and it has been amazing to see the changes happen over the eight years we’ve been there.

When we arrived there were few children and families, whereas now there are lots of families and young people, and we even have a youth group on Sunday evenings.

There are so many positive things about being in a Christian family, and I definitely think that going to church is one of them.

My dad said to me a few weeks ago that if I didn’t get to go to church and interact with the older people, then I wouldn’t have the same social skills as I do today.

I agree.

I live quite far from my Grandparents, so without going to church I don’t think I would see as many older people and get to talk with them, which is something I enjoy doing.

At home, our dinner conversations are sometimes about God – why he did a certain thing or why we have a faith. I think this is extremely valuable. Not all families get to sit together to talk about these interesting topics, regardless of viewpoint.

It’s hard to think of any negatives really. In fact, I can only think of one – the expectation.

A lot of people expect me – as the vicar’s daughter – to know what’s going on, to take part in events and to attend events that happen over the year. But despite this, I never really feel under pressure to do anything, and I know that I can say “no” if I don’t want to be part of something.

Then of course there are the trivial things – having to stay right to the end of services and events, having to put away chairs (they say never be a vicar if you can’t stack chairs!) and maybe being embarrassed a couple of times by my dad. But I don’t see these as all that bad really. It’s just part of the fun!

I very much enjoy every aspect of growing up in a Christian home, and with a church family. I’ve never known anything different. But I enjoy it and I actually find it strange when we don’t have to get up on a Sunday morning, or not spend celebrations such as Easter and Christmas at church.

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