On Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 September, nine new priests will be ordained in parishes across the diocese. The new priests have already served as deacons and upon their ordination as priests they will remain in their present parishes while their ongoing training continues.
In the words of the ordination service:
"Priests are called to be servants and shepherds among the people to whom they are sent. With their Bishop and fellow ministers, they are to proclaim the word of the Lord and to watch for the signs of God's new creation. They are to be messengers, watchmen and stewards of the Lord; they are to teach and to admonish, to feed and provide for his family, to search for his children in the wilderness of this world's temptations, and to guide them through its confusions, that they may be saved through Christ for ever. Formed by the word, they are to call their hearers to repentance and to declare in Christ's name the absolution and forgiveness of their sins."
Alison is a curate at St Nicholas Church, Kenilworth. Alison feels that it has been a real privilege to be involved in ministry over the past year. One of the aspects that she really enjoys is the variety of tasks involved. Whether it be rejoicing with people in momentous life occasions, such as baptisms, or supporting people in the darker moments of life by listening to memories about a loved one who has just died and then conducting their funeral. Although at times she has definitely felt out of her comfort zone God has always equipped her to do whatever she has needed to do. She feels very fortunate to be fulfilling God’s calling for her life.
Dan is a curate in the Arden Marches benefice where he and his family have enjoyed settling into village life and new schools, as well as the four churches that make up the group. Dan has focused mainly on Studley church with responsibility for further development of worship, children’s work and discipleship, in line with some of the ‘8 Essential Qualities’ priorities. Lockdown has halted some of this work, but at the same time opened up new opportunities for the church to grow in faith and discipleship, as they focus on ensuring that people remain connected, supported and encouraged where they are. Online worship hasn’t just been a necessity, but has created new possibilities for being church, with exciting potential for the future.
James has been a distinctive deacon for the last four years during which time he has served on a self-supporting basis as Bishop’s Chaplain to Business Leaders and in the Churches of Arden. For the last two years he has served an extended part time, stipendiaried placement at St. John the Baptist, Aston Cantlow.
James says that he has thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of setting up a number of Bishop’s Missional Business Communities – monthly gatherings designed to help Christian business people to run their businesses in a better way in every respect. Still actively involved in the business world himself, James is a great believer that business, done well, can really help to build the kingdom of God here on earth.
James is now looking forward to a ministry of word and sacrament as a priest; a vocation that has gradually grown during his extended time as a deacon.
Charlotte is a curate at St John the Divine, Willenhall. Charlotte felt warmly welcomed into the family of St John the Divine and has been given many opportunities to learn and grow. Every day is different ministering in Willenhall. From leading services, to being encouraged by fringe members getting stuck into the Bible, to engaging with the wider community through events and special days e.g. Remembrance Day. The foodbank is a big part of the community support, and this has become even bigger during Covid-19 and has been a key touchpoint with the community, both with clients and key volunteers. Charlotte has found it a privilege to take funerals and baptisms throughout this year as well as engaging with the frailer members of the church community through house and care home visits. She looks forward to what God has in store for the year to come.
Richard is a curate at St Nicholas, Kenilworth. The day after ordination he was back behind the counter in his Kenilworth menswear shop. Swapping his neck-tie for a clerical collar, he continuse to work full-time in addition to serving his curacy.
Customers have quickly become accustomed to Richard being a man of the cloth in both senses. Almost daily there is an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel, listen to people’s stories and share the love of Christ. His ministry in church has expanded to embrace baptisms and funerals, although involvement in weddings will have to wait until after the lockdown.
In addition to leading and live-streaming services, coronavirus and church closure brought with it a fresh opportunity to live out a deacon’s ministry of loving service through the provision of pastoral care. However, Richard notes that nothing is accomplished by his own efforts alone or without the help of the Holy Spirit and he is grateful for the love and support of his family, colleagues, and the congregation.
My first year as a deacon has given me plenty of opportunities to feel both completely called and yet completely out of my comfort zone. Even though the world looks quite different to what we ever imagined, I can still sing with Mary ‘my Spirit rejoices with God my Saviour’ as I look back at God's faithfulness, his presence, his grace, and his power this year. What a privilege it is to step out, filled with his grace and strength, to serve, to partner with him, and to witness his Spirit at work in and through his children, in the church, in the parish and in Coventry - not just in the ‘big things’, but in the simple and little things, in the everyday (Zeph 4:10). Nothing - and noone!- is ever too small for him.
Abby is a curate at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Finham. She knew her first year of curacy would hold challenges but didn’t expect the challenges that so many of us have faced in the last few months. We’ve all had to learn quickly!
However, she has loved the whole of her first year at St Martin’s. She arrived to a wonderful welcome and has got stuck in to all the various ministries, with some real extremes: everything from dressing up as a purple-haired “Professor of Christmasology” (helping with children’s work) to working out how to offer pastoral care in lockdown; from developing her care for the bereaved to broadcasting live services twice a week, every week!
She knows that there is still much to learn, as she awaits ordination to priesthood and contemplates the next two years, but she is very aware of God’s love and she trusts the Holy Spirit to be her guide.
Ruth is a curate at St Mark's Church in Leamington Spa. Ruth's first year of curacy has brought with it challenges she hadn’t expected and that no one could have foreseen. As well as dealing with all the difficulties brought on by the lockdown, she also moved from her original curacy placement to continue elsewhere. Getting used to a new setting with all the limitations we are currently experiencing, and only meeting people via zoom, has given her a new perspective on ministry and made her appreciate just how valuable face to face contact is. Having also lost her father in April, she is also only too aware of the difficulties so many are experiencing around the loss of opportunities to grieve, and she is grateful for that insight. But through it all she has sensed God’s presence - we have an amazingly faithful God.