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Introducing the deacons to be ordained

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Joshua Bell

Joshua was brought up in Hampshire and West Sussex, where his faith was shaped by his family Pentecostal Church, the Church of England chaplaincy at his school, and the school Christian Union. He was baptised and confirmed at age 16 in 2008, and after leaving school undertook a pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome along the ancient pilgrim road, the ‘Via Francigena.’

It was while studying theology at Cliff College in Derbyshire that he both became aware of the Anglo-Catholic tradition of the church and began discerning a vocation to the priesthood. He is passionate about making the love of God known.

He has been married to Leah since 2014, and enjoys collecting and playing board games, camping, and cooking.

Helen Budd

“I am a home grown Norwich Diocese curate, having spent most of my life in the Wymondham area. Prior to training for ordination, I was home educating my children.

“Amongst other things, I have also worked with new parents in the local NCT branch, and been involved in an ethical food purchasing group. I have recently rediscovered my love of making music (although my playing mostly resembles Les Dawson), and I am also a big fan of board games and knitting (sometimes at the same time).”

Rachel Foster

“I am a retired police officer, working with the chaplaincy team of Norfolk Constabulary. I currently work within my benefice with pubchurch, the local primary school and pre-schoolers.

“I have a love of singing and encouraging others to sing, however good or bad they consider themselves to be, believing our voices are God-given and should be celebrated. I am married with children, step-children and grandchildren. I love gardening, walking and spending time with family.”

Louisa Pittman

Louisa was born in England to an American military family, and has spent most of her life between the UK and the US. She started her working life serving in the US Merchant Marine, primarily aboard historic tall ships, starting as a deckhand and eventually as an officer aboard ocean-going square-riggers.

She has always been keen on trying new things and taking on new challenges, and during these early years, she earned certifications as a pilot, firefighter, diver, and ship’s master. Eventually, though, she left the sea to study archaeology, and earned her degree in her family’s hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. While there, she tried her hand at a few new jobs: carriage driver and heavy horse trainer, contract archaeologist, and assistant shipwright building the pilot schooner Spirit of South Carolina.

In 2008, Louisa moved back to the UK to earn an MA and then PhD in Maritime Archaeology at the University of Bristol. It was there that she started attending Bristol Cathedral, where she was eventually hired as a Verger. It was also there that she started to explore a call to ordination, which eventually led to training at Westcott House in Cambridge.

Louisa has not lost her love of adventure and the sea, and she still enjoys taking on new challenges. Her most recent interest is rugby, and she has spent a few years as a prop on teams in Bristol and Cambridge. Though the rest of her family still live in the US, Louisa will be accompanied in her move to Norfolk by her very grumpy pet hedgehog Tibby and by more books about nautical minutiae than is probably sensible.

Laura Purnell

“Hi, I am Laura Purnell, curate at Gaywood St Faith’s. I am married to Martin and have five step children and eleven grandchildren. The grandchildren keep us enjoyably very busy but with our free time we love to try and hold off the middle age spread with time at the gym. I also enjoy running out in the countryside especially on sunny crisp mornings.

“I love talking to God out there! I love to cook whether that be meals for friends and family or cakes and biscuits to be enjoyed and have many cook books which I love to pour over and experiment from (not always successfully). When the day is ending, Martin and I love to cook a nice meal and watch a film. Holidays will usually find us on the Norfolk Broads. We find it such a relaxing place and a place where we can indulge another of our mutual likes, listening to radio plays, especially an Agatha Christie.

“I come from Christian family. Originally from Essex, my family moved up to Lincolnshire when I was three and apart from university and a short time in Chelmsford, Lincolnshire has been my home. I have two sisters and six nieces and nephews who are also in Lincolnshire near my parents. After university I had a varied career; I have been a youth worker at a church and then finally, during the discernment process, held an administration position at a Christian-run tech company than allowed for time to spend reading and seeking what God wanted from Martin and I.

“So here I am, very excited about the next part of my journey at St Faith’s.”

Angela Rayner

Angela Rayner was born in London and raised in Kent. As an undergraduate, she read law and theology at Robinson College, Cambridge before completing a Masters degree in theology at Heythrop College, London.

Following her studies, Angela pursued a ten year career in property, working in IT and Strategy at the consultancy firm, Knight Frank whilst also participating in a wide range of civic societies in South London.

In 2016, she returned to Cambridge to prepare for ordination at Westcott House. Angela enjoys gin, travel, outdoor pursuits, visiting cathedrals, unicycling, reading poetry and current affairs.

Isaac Sibanda

“My wife Rebecca and I have two cats and one very energetic, English Springer spaniel. We are all so excited to be moving back to Norwich having left three years ago for training. Becky and Spock enjoy parkruns and long walks in the country and by the sea side, whereas I like nothing more than tinkering on my model airplanes in the garage. This is just one of my many hobbies that will undoubtedly provide comic relief during those long fascinating sermons.

“I look forward to the new challenge and working with my incumbent Heather Cracknell, together with members of the parish we hope to serve our community, continue to spread the gospel and make new disciples as we equip our church for God’s mission.”

Samuel Thorp

“I’ve always loved ideas, exploring through and teasing out interesting concepts before introducing them to others, explaining where necessary. This led me to explore philosophy at A-level before studying theology first at the London School of Theology and then at Cranmer Hall, where I have trained for ordination.

My Fiancee, Linnea, also studies theology and we’re both passionate about communicating theological ideas in such a way as to allow the truth of the Gospel to resonate with people’s real world lives.

“We’re both looking forward to joining the churches in the Diss Team Ministry where I shall serve as curate under the Revd Canon Tony Billet. Theology aside, we enjoy outdoor adventures, fiction and good food.”

Shawn Tomlinson

“I am delighted to take this opportunity to introduce myself as the new but not so young part time curate for Christ Church Eaton. I am looking forward to joining the congregation after my ordination at the end of June.

“As many have kindly asked how to pronounce my name, I thought I should just clarify my spelling. If you think of the Welsh ‘Sian’ or the sun “shone” we should be about right. I’m so sorry about the confusion but alas… I hold my lovely parents responsible.

“Prior to coming to Christ Church I have worshipped at St Stephen’s Norwich and my training for ministry was through the Eastern Region Ministry Course.

“A little bit about me… until last year I had the privilege of tutoring worldwide for a charitable trust called Birthlight, teaching baby swimming, focusing on promoting healthy environments for families to thrive in and teaching on parent and children’s bonding and attachment. Having a family of my own is a very important aspect of my life and I have learnt the importance of creating a home, having shared memories and being part of our children’s lives as they grow into adulthood.

“As in family life, having roots enables us to develop into the people God has created us to be and I am so looking forward to putting my roots down at Christ Church and being part of the parish as we continue our journey on through life’s challenges and joys.”