On the suggestion of the Vestry Missions Committee I started to make short videos earlier this year and have put them on Youtube. They’re also linked to the St Paul’s Facebook page. I’ve called them “the Train Vicar” videos, where I talk about railways and faith. I chose this topic rather than my interest in archaeology, because there are already many videos about archaeology and faith, particularly the archaeology of Ancient Israel in which I specialise. Also, I wanted videos that can be made quickly, without long research, and on a topic for which I have sufficient photo and video content. So that’s how the idea of the Train Vicar was born.
The videos are short. They’re certainly not as careful and thoughtful as my sermons.
The theology is basic and not well developed. But I hope that there’s still some truth about God and the world in them. It’s fun to try and make the connection between railways and faith. Of course, it’s not a new connection. “People of the cloth” have long been interested in railways and are accepted in the enthusiast community with a wry smile.
The most famous vicar among the railway community is the Rev W Awdry, the author of the Thomas the Tank Engine series. My own grandfather was a clergyman who was very interested in railways.
I decided to make the link between my interest in railways and the Church quite obvious in the videos. In other railway-related publications I’m involved in there’s normally no mention of Church. For 18 years I have had a website with railway pictures http://www.frankship.com/
My photos are published in railway calendars and magazines. I have written articles for New Zealand railway publications such as the “Yarn” and “The Linesider”. I hope that the videos provide a different perspective on faith.
If you want to have a look just go to the St Paul’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/StPaulsPapanui or search for “Train Vicar” on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR_7MwNVxPX_ZtXOQ_MGisQ