by Chris Tobin
Reverend Lucy Flatt has a philosophy she follows every day – no Bible, no breakfast.
Recently ordained by the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch Rev Dr Peter Carrell as a priest, the 31-year-old chaplain at Craighead Diocesan School in Timaru said prayer and reading the Bible was part of her everyday life, and grounded in gratitude and service.
“I’m like everyone else,” she said, “but I’m not living every day to satisfy my whims, but to serve God.
“In my window ‘it’s not I who lives, but Christ who dwells in me’.”
Rev Flatt grew up in Palmerston North and after a gap year, studied for a Bachelor of Philosophy degree at the University of Otago.
The Anglican faith figured prominently in her early life since her father, John Franklin, is also an Anglican priest. But following in her father’s footsteps, let alone having a religious belief, was not “a given” and she wanted to know the answer to the question “why?”.
“I wanted to know how could I reconcile logically a God of love with what I saw in the world which was evil. I struggled with how logic and faith could align.”
In this journey of exploration, she married husband Cameron and had her first child, Laylah, now 7.
By the time she had her second daughter, Amelia, now 4, Rev Flatt had found the answer and was studying at a theological college in Auckland.
Last year she became chaplain at Craighead and curate at St John’s in Timaru and had her third child, Elijah, who is 7 months old.
A turning point, Rev Flatt said, was the Bible’s book of Romans which in her view, followed a didactic structure.
In terms of age, Rev Flatt recognised she was in a minority within the Anglican church and her beliefs were not so widely held by New Zealand society, yet she said five women of similar age to her were at theological college.
“I’m also one of only five (priests) under 35 in the diocese. It does make you wonder what happened in the past but we need to be saying Christianity has something to offer; it’s about having a relationship with a loving God.”
She said her age had allowed her to connect easily with girls at Craighead.
“I tell them they are more than just brains on sticks; heart, mind and soul interweave.
“I want them to know they’re loved beyond measure and that God is waiting for when they want that relationship.”
She said spirituality was important but often not considered.
“In the New Zealand curriculum, if it’s not a special area school, no subject discipline talks about it.”
Since the recent Christchurch tragedy in which 50 Muslim people died and many others were injured, Rev Flatt said Craighead had held various events to show sympathy and support.
“The Christian faith is distinct from Islam but any assault on one person who prays is an assault on anyone who prays.
“We have one Muslim girl here; on the Monday after it [the shooting] we had a chapel service and had her speak to the school about joining in love and speaking out against violence.”
Rev Flatt said she was loving her time at Craighead.
“All my strands have come together in this one place.”