Welcome to St John the Baptist Church in Smalley, Derbyshire.


In November 1987, a small team of four moved in to the Old Vicarage in Horsley Woodhouse. The house had, as estate agents would say, great potential. The fifty centimetres of water in the cellar had room for more frogs and newts. The many hearths and disused chimneys showed scope for central heating and so the work continued at a new address; recycling, repairing and restoring. We took inspiration from the view from the back garden which overlooks a beautiful valley of fields and trees – itself a reclaimed site of open cast coal-mining which had ceased some fifty years earlier.

Priorities had to be decided. The first room to be transformed was what used to be the vicar‟s study. This became the prayer-room or chapel, in every sense the centre of the house. Out went the fireplace. In came gentle shades of blue, a couple of chairs and lots of prayers. It took ten weeks for the go-ahead for central heating to be approved and a very chilly month for it to be installed. At this time the library was being used as a store room. It was quite a sight one morning to discover that all the ceiling lining paper had descended in one sheet to cover all the worldly belongings! Come spring and new life came in the form of new windows and new help for the fairly large grounds. Cuttings were to be found on most window ledges and relationships were beginning to root in the village. Invitations came in for the priest and other members of the team to speak of their work and vision.

In 1993 the baton was handed over to the Sozein Trust. A fund-raising campaign was undertaken and estimates gathered for substantial repairs. In the competition for water between the bricks and mortar of the house and an enormous weeping ash growing two metres from the kitchen and overshadowing the property, the tree was winning. One had to go and the Victorian vicarage remained.

The front door area was underpinned. The hall floor was dug up; in some places to a depth of one and a half metres. The antique tile flooring sadly, was replaced with a beautiful carpet. A chimney was taken down completely and all the rest substantially repaired. The roof gully was rebuilt and waterproofed: no longer would melting snow lead to water running down the lighting flex by the airing cupboard. The front door would now open and the back door shut properly.

And as it is with the building so it is for some of the visitors. “Here,” as the Chairman of the trustees said, “people meet their real selves and discover what it is to love themselves and be loved by others and by God. By the gently strong work of the Spirit of God broken hearts are bound together, captives are released and people who feel themselves to be imprisoned are set free.”

Sozein is a word from the Greek of the New Testament. It means the “delivering from,” “making safe,” and healing of the individual or the community.

As Sister Lilias, one of the trustees writes: “The Director of the Sozein Trust is an ordained priest of the Church of England, who is ably assisted by his wife, who also has a varied ministry within the house, and not least by the generous hospitality that is always offered. Most people who find their way to the house, because of their deep need, are folk who need a „listening ear‟, with time to give, without being rushed or ready quickly to sit in judgement on what they hear.

They are people who very often have carried their sickness for some considerable years, but medical remedies have not always helped, because they have lacked the „time to listen to what is not being said‟ when the symptoms of the problem are being rehearsed. The ministry offered at Sozein does just this, and the understanding love, portrayed through the patient „listening‟ enables the suffering person to be honest about themselves and their situation, as perhaps never before. So healing begins. Very often, as is usual, with very deep-seated problems, it takes more than one visit for results to be not only felt but seen.

Though the Director is an ordained priest, he does not receive a stipend from the Established Church.
The Revd Neil Broadbent.

The Revd Neil Broadbent. 01332 780598
Email: neil.broadbent@sozein.org.uk Website: www.sozein.org.uk