Helena Crockford

Published on 16 October 2020

Calling to Licensed Lay Ministry for me began as my children were moving through their teens and I had more time to consider what I might contribute to our local church.

My own faith journey had been a rich resource upholding my life through good times and bad; though my relationship with “Formal Church” was sometimes ambivalent. I wondered if I could give something back, and support others in their faith journeys too.

I was often touched and inspired by how people outside of traditional church structures encountered the Love of God and healing spiritual experience. I saw this in my professional life as a clinical psychologist in mental health services;  people struggling with great pain and distress can find themselves more open to considering life’s bigger questions.  Moments of connection and meaning beyond themselves, giving comfort and hope, could prove a turning point in a mental health journey. I could also see how “Formal Church” was not always well-informed about mental health, and sometimes hurt more than helped.

Speaking with my Rector, we saw a Diocese of Norwich Vocations Day and, with a very blurry idea of church roles and structures and strong ‘imposter syndrome’, I went along. I didn’t envisage myself taking on any formal role – definitely not standing out front wearing robes. However, the word Reader seemed to stick in my brain and, every time I heard it, I seemed drawn to find out more.

The hazy, unclear path has unfolded, or been revealed, turn by turn. From support to apply from my local church and faithful spiritual director; to the challenging but strangely uplifting selection process; through the mysteries of theological study and ministerial formation; and walking the immense distance from pews to pulpit to preach and lead!

The ‘imposter syndrome’ can still appear, but I have discovered somehow that while walking in God’s Way, his Spirit equips and lifts us with every step. It is a weighty thing to receive the Licence from the Bishop, but who knew that ministry could bring such joy?  The journey continues to unfold, and I thank God for it – robes and all!