Meet the six new deacons
Four men and two women, including a former herdsman, a publican and a music engineer, became new Church of England curates at a special Ordination Service in Canterbury Cathedral on Saturday 29 June. Eight others were ordained priest at a Cathedral service later the same day.
Archbishop Justin Welby presided at the Ordination Service, his first ordinations since he became Archbishop of Canterbury in March.
The following six people were ordained as deacons in Canterbury Cathedral at 11.00 am on Saturday 29 June.
Mark, 33, who will serve as a curate at Christ Church Herne Bay, worked as a cabinet maker, van driver and verger before he was accepted to train as a vicar in 2010.
Brought up in a Christian family, it was only when Mark worked as a verger in his local church that he started to hear God’s call to ordained ministry. “I took this job on after being made redundant and initially saw it as a short time job. While I was there people started to comment that I should be thinking about full-time Christian ministry. This came as a surprise to me as being a vicar was not something that I saw myself doing. However after much prayer and a growing desire to serve God, I thought maybe God had put me here for a reason.”
Mark says: “Most of our contemporary culture thinks Christianity is boring and irrelevant. However, at the heart of Christianity is relationship with the living God, which is the most exciting thing a person can know and experience. I’m passionate about people understanding this for the first time or growing more deeply in their on-going relationship with God.”
Married to Helena, a secondary school teacher, Mark enjoys watching films, walking and is a keen supporter of Brighton and Hove Albion.
Chris, who once worked as an assistant herdsman for a calving herd in Rolvenden, says that his parents always thought he’d become a vicar because as a small boy he used to give his teddies ‘communion’ with Ribena and extra strong mints. Although Chris, 40, felt an initial vocation to ordained ministry in his teenage years, he chose instead to study at agricultural college, where he concentrated on the dairy industry.
“I worked on three diary units before having to stop farming due to health problems. This wasn’t a negative time for me as I felt that God was saying that he had let me do what I wanted to and that it was now time to do what he was calling me to.”
After a few years working at Tesco, Chris went to work as a verger at Canterbury Cathedral. “Work at the Cathedral was amazing. I met such a variety of people every day and was introduced to church music and developed a love of liturgy. As a verger I worked for four ordinations so it will be an extra experience to be on the other side, seeing it first-hand.”
As a deacon, Chris, who will be working in seven parishes near Ashford, says he is looking forward to being an ordained person in rural communities where his agricultural experience will be useful.
Chris is married to Julie; they have four children, Jack 17, Rhianna 16, Rebecca 14 and Tommy 14.
Chris, 55, a pub landlord for over twenty years, became involved in his local church whilst running The Railway Pub in Faversham. Chris said: “Leading worship and assisting in church started some nagging questions (what I refer to as “my itch”). This resulted, after many months, in my presentation to the diocesan discernment panel who recommended me for ordination training.”
Serving his curacy at Walmer, Chris describes his passions as ‘my wife, my dog, cooking, food, music and being out and about with people’. He says being a deacon is so much of an unknown: “I constantly ask myself ‘why am I here? I only know God has called me by name and that I have his purpose to fulfill.”
Chis is married to Melanie, and they have four grown up children, two of whom live in Australia (Douglas, 29, and Mary, 23), a daughter in Brighton (Lydia, 24) and another daughter in London (Kaite, 31).
Liz was 18 when she first felt God calling her to the ordained ministry, but at this time women were not able to be ordained priest.
After working as a primary school teacher, Liz married Mike, gave birth to their first child, Luke, and worked alongside Mike in his work with young people at Soul Survivor Harrow.
Liz says: “The last three decades have seen much change and growth in my life, with both good and difficult times. We have experienced redundancy and unemployment, fertility struggles, and in 2000 we experienced the still birth of our daughter. Two years later we were blessed by the birth of Elly.”
In 2003 the family moved to Kent where husband Mike took up his post as Priest-in-Charge of Holy Trinity, Sittingbourne. It was at this point that Liz began what was to be a long process towards being recommended for theological training.
Liz says of her three year part-time course, training for the ordained ministry at SEITE: “It has been an amazing and challenging time, one in which I have learnt much, grown and been encouraged: all of which has been held in relationship with God, my family and friends.”
As a Deacon, Liz says she is looking forward to serving the people of God in Sittingbourne and Bobbing. Although she describes herself as ‘not very fast’, in her spare time, Liz enjoys running to keep fit.
Dr. Judith Shaw
Judith Shaw previously worked as a teacher and university lecturer. Her journey to ordination has been a gradual one which grew from her involvement in the churches of Tenterden and Smallhythe.
Married to Philip, Judith enjoys riding and walking. Judith continues to be interested in history and building conservation. She is passionate about rural ministry and is greatly looking forward to serving her curacy in Rother and Oxney.
Ben, 27, who is serving his curacy at St George’s Deal, trained initially to become a music engineer. He said: “There are a surprising number of ordained ministers in my family tree and so it was really important to make sure God was calling me personally. After training as a music engineer I couldn’t ignore that my passion for Jesus was greater than my passion for music and so I began working for my church as a youth and schools worker. The rest flowed from there!”
Ben, who is still a big music lover, is also passionate about sport, including golf and football. He lives with his wife Esther and their two house rabbits, Hugo and Florence.
After three years at Theological College, Ben is looking forward to becoming a curate: “I am ultimately a people person and much prefer engaging with people and their lives than writing essays! I am excited about this next stage of ministry where I will put a lot of what I learned into practice.”
Within the Church of England there are three stages of ordained ministry: deacons, priests and bishops. Following training at theological college, newly ordained deacons are appointed to a three to four year post of curate, for training alongside an experienced vicar. After one year, deacons are ordained priest.