Tweeting vicar shares the love: Hackney Wick’s #everhopeful Rev Sue Makin on reaching out on social media

Rev Sue Makin with Rev Canon John Oates, founder of the 59 Club, at the 125th anniversary of St Mary

Rev Sue Makin with Rev Canon John Oates, founder of the 59 Club, at the 125th anniversary of St Mary of Eton - Credit: sue makin

It’s just as likely that you know Rev Sue Makin from social media as from St Mary of Eton in Hackney Wick. She tells Emma Bartholomew how the church can be an ‘unshockable’ listening ear

Using angel, devil and prayer hand emojis, and hashtags like #everhopeful and #nevergiveup, Sue Makin is trying to inspire a new generation.

Sue isn’t some lifestyle blogger or famous-for-five-minutes Instagram star. She’s a vicar, who hopes the funny tweets and Facebook posts will encourage people in to her church. That, and the freshly baked lemon drizzle cake.

“Boring tweets aren’t the answer – no one will read them,” she said. “I’m just trying to connect with people where they are, and helping people realise we are there.”

She became incumbent of St Mary of Eton in Eastway, Hackney Wick, three months ago – just in time to celebrate its 125th anniversary.

“It’s important people realise we could be quite helpful at various points of their lives,” she said. “But I think they don’t come in sometimes because of the image that’s given, or they think they are going to be judged.”

She added: “We aren’t necessarily like the public or the media portray us – sometimes it’s a bit stereotyped, in a Vicar of Dibley kind of way, which falls short of the actual reality. If you’re looking for a good image, watch Broken – it’s excellently realistic.”

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So in what way could the church come in useful?

“We are a listening ear, and we can be quite unshockable,” she vowed. “Most priests have heard most things once or twice in their ministry – holding confidences is something we do.

“Sometimes we advocate for people and always we pray for people. There’s a lot going on. It’s a holistic kind of approach.”

Rev Makin has been part of the church community since she left her job as a teacher in Woking 29 years ago. Initially she joined the Society of St Margaret religious community, becoming a parish sister at St Anne’s, Hoxton.

“I felt called, and I just answered that calling,” she said.

In 2013 she became a deacon, and the next year a priest.

Initially reluctant to take part in this interview, she explained: “It’s not about me – it’s about God. I don’t particularly like being in the spotlight. It’s not my style.”

Links are being renewed with Eton College, which founded her church, and a “mission barge” moored at the Olympic Park nearby is the result of a collaboration with St Paul and St Mark at Old Ford to make up for the fact there is no worship space there.