Young Vocations – called to ministry
It all started shortly after my nineteenth birthday. I was in the pub listening to a friend who was having a tough time when he said something very strange to me, ‘Jack, you would make a great vicar!’
At first I didn’t think very much of it but a few days later another friend said the same thing. Over the next 12 months numerous friends, an uncle, my mother, grandmother and even a priest uttered the same thought. Slowly, I began to think that God was trying to tell me something.
Ordained ministry was not something that I had ever considered before. I had not grown up in a churchgoing family and I had only been attending church myself for about two years. I turned to God in prayer for guidance and I began to feel an increasing sense of being ‘inwardly moved’ (to quote the Deacon’s Ordination Service). My heart just seemed to beat a little faster when I thought about the priesthood.
I went to see my vicar and to my surprise he too affirmed this growing sense of calling in my life. At the time, I was attending a large charismatic evangelical church in Sheffield and the vicar advised me to gain experience of churches from other Anglican traditions. So when I returned home to Norfolk during the university holidays I started to attend a small, rural parish, with Book of Common Prayer services. It was about as different to my usual church as you could possibly imagine but I loved it. I remember vividly one Sunday sitting in that church watching the priest preside at the Eucharist and feeling at that moment that there was nothing I would rather do than be a priest.
After University, I became a Youth and Children’s worker for a church in Hertfordshire and after settling in there I began to explore my sense of vocation formally with the relevant people in St Albans Diocese. This formal process of discernment took about a year. It involved a lot of reading, writing, self-reflection and interviews but it was an incredibly formative experience.
At the end of this process I was approved by a Bishops’ Advisory Panel and I began training at Westcott House in Cambridge. I had a wonderful three years in Cambridge. I learnt a huge amount and made some very good friends who will hopefully help sustain my ministry for years to come.
In my final year at Westcott the time came to start thinking about curacy. After much prayerful consideration I felt that God was calling me back to Norfolk. Thanks, in no small part, to David Foster (Bishop’s Officer for Ordinands in the Diocese) this was made possible and I was ordained Deacon at Norwich Cathedral in July 2016. I am currently serving my curacy in the Aylsham and District Team Ministry and after eight months in the job I can safely say that it is everything I hoped it would be. God is good.
Could God be calling you to be ordained?
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One Day with Charlotte Snell – Member of Youth Parliament
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A young photographer’s journey around a church
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