Ann McDonald – Reader at Maidstone, St Faith
As I child I remember believing in God but as a sort of far away in the sky sort belief and it wasn’t until I became a teenager that I started to understand that the Christian faith was about God wanting to restore a broken relationship between Himself and humankind (and ultimately his created world).
You could say I was frightened into the Kingdom, as in those days and in the type of church I belonged to hell was to be feared as a consequence of sin.
There was a period in my late 30s to mid-40s when I stopped believing in God. This happened as a result of a fairly serious breakdown combined with coping with the death of my father.
However, when I “heard” the voice of God calling me back to him it was a real prodigal experience and the love I experienced then has not left me. It was with me through the grief of losing my husband after less than 7 years of marriage, it has also been constant through the struggles of studying for Reader training.
The calling to reader training is probably less clear but a logical consequence of my love for God, his Word and a passion for seeing His people grow and walking alongside the community of believers as we encourage one another. As a result of which to be active in the local community showing the care and compassion of Christ.
I am looking forward to using the knowledge I have learnt in training for effective ministry and the knowledge I have learnt about myself and my own spirituality during this journey to give hope to those who struggle.
My passion is to see justice prevail, in the workplace, in our communities and in the world at large. I have been working a long time and over the last decade those in work are put under more and more pressure while there are many who would like the chance to gain work experience.
I live on my own and spend time visiting my aging mother in the West Midlands as often as I can. Otherwise I love spending time with friends and if a game of scrabble (original rules) is on offer that is an additional blessing. I have an eclectic taste in literature from classics through to who dun its. I also enjoy classical music and handicrafts.
Gavin Netherton – Reader at Canterbury, St Mary Bredin
I am currently working for an organisation that supports people with learning disabilities. I have been working in social care since 2010. It was when I was at a Detling conference that I saw a presentation by Prospects about the work they do ministering to people with learning disabilities that I first felt called to work in this area. When I saw in the presentation people of all abilities worshipping together I wanted to be part of something like that.
I am currently on the preaching and leading team of a local church and volunteer for outreach programmes in Canterbury.
In the past I have worked as a security guard, cleaner and warehouse officer. I once opened a school fate dressed as Darth Vader. I have enjoyed working in the various jobs I have had but what I am most passionate about is working with people and helping them.
My previous church experience has been within the CofE and the charismatic movement. I started going to St Mary Bredin, my local CofE church, when I was a child. Throughout my teenage years and young adulthood I became involved with Pioneer churches in Herne Bay and in London where I went to University.
After University I did a DNA discipleship course working for a church in South West London and Regenerate a community outreach charity.
When I moved back to Canterbury after living in London I returned to St Mary Bredin where I have been involved in young adults ministry and youth work. During a church interregnum I was part of a team that ran the evening services.
I am looking forward to continuing my training at SEITE and developing my skills in worship leading and preaching. I am excited about getting more involved in local outreach and mission. I feel blessed to play a part in God’s work in the city of Canterbury.
I think there are opportunities for everyone to serve God in there every day lives. God has entrusted the mission of sharing the gospel to ordinary people. We should be encouraged that we all have a part to play in being the church. A church that worships a loving father and who shows that love to others. As a reader I see it as part of my role to inspire people to do what God has called them to do. The Bible is full of ordinary people who God used in extraordinary ways.
I have been married to Helen for 10 years this year. I have 2 nieces and 2 nephews who bring joy to our family every day. I thank God for bringing them into our lives. I like reading and am part of a book group. I have been a life long wrestling fan – my favourite wrestlers are Hulk Hogan, Sting and Samoa Joe.
Barry Lock - Reader at Folkestone, Trinity Benefice
How much can you pack into a life? I was born into a farming family of eight children, served in the Royal Air Force, am married with children and grandchildren and called by God from an early age.
We were encouraged to go to Church and I can remember from age seven putting on a cassock and surplice for the first time thinking, ‘this is for me’. I did not know then in what capacity, but in all events stayed close to God to find His will for my life and so have always gone to Church and been involved. It has been a difficult journey and I missed some turns, but know this is where I am meant to be now.
My wife Sue is most supportive, we have been married 45 years this year, our anniversary happens to be the day before my Reader Licensing service. We knew each other at secondary school and have five children and eight grandchildren. I enjoy sharing my skills in the garden and kitchen with those grandchildren.
I joined the Royal Air Force at age fifteen and became an electrical technician and served for almost twenty-five years. After voluntary redundancy I worked in industry before being made redundant twice. Then worked in a Pentecostal Free Church for a number of years before being made redundant yet again.
This final redundancy woke me up so to speak and brought me back into the Anglican Church. I felt safe and free and started a course at the London School of Theology and soon after was accepted for Reader training. My real passion is meeting and talking to people, helping and accepting them for who they are. Being a Reader in training has already given more opportunity for that and more doors are opening all the time. The life of Christ in us is attractive and as Ministers we have the answers of life, in all its fullness.
Martin Lees – Reader at Great Chart, St Mary with Singleton
My wife and I have attended both Anglican and Evangelical Free churches in the past, but when we moved to Great Chart we decided to join St Mary’s as we feel it is always preferable to be part of the worshipping community where one actually lives. I have found myself primarily serving in the more informal, less traditional environment of the daughter church in Singleton, where I regularly lead the band as well as being on the leadership team. But we like to attend the more traditional services at Great Chart also, and increasingly I am preaching and leading services at both locations.
In former years I have served as churchwarden at St Faith’s, Maidstone, and as a Deacon and Worship Leader at Staplehurst Free Church.
I spent most of my career working as an actuary in the life insurance industry, but for the past ten years I have been developing and running training courses on how to analyse insurance companies – in locations as diverse as Sydney, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Dubai, Moscow, Vienna, Copenhagen, Dublin and New York.
One aspect of my calling to Reader Ministry was the realisation that my secular job for the past decade had been excellent preparation for teaching in a church context. Additionally I can now afford to reduce the time I spend in paid employment but I firmly believe that retirement should not be a life of passivity or self-absorbed leisure but that we should all aim to be contribute to society for as long as health permits. Psalm 92:14 has spoken to me in this respect :” they still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green”. I can see that the Church of England will increasingly be looking to non-stipendiary ministry for its local leaders, and God seems to have drawn me into leadership positions in my last three churches. So it all added up!
I am looking forward to spending more time in the parish, interacting with the people living there, and to using the teaching skills that I have developed over the past ten years to inspire, encourage and challenge our congregations, and to help them to grow in maturity and to fully grasp the vision of every-member ministry. I see the church’s mission primarily as like that of an aircraft carrier, where the main focus is on equipping, supporting and “refuelling” every individual member so that they can be more effective in their own ministries day by day.
As well as developing my preaching and worship-leading ministry, I am looking forward to being able to explore new areas of ministry such as visiting the elderly, more involvement with home-groups, and exploring the potential for debt counselling locally.
I am passionate about mobilising every church member for witness on their daily “frontlines”; and about growing mature disciples.
I love singing worship songs which both stir the emotions and engage the brain with theological truth – I have written a number of worship songs which we use at Singleton.
I am also passionate about Tottenham Hotspur – and sport in general! I am married to Sally, a headteacher of a large secondary school. We have three grown-up daughters and two grandsons.
I am a member of a chamber choir but am also a big fan of jazz and most other music genres. I also enjoy reading literary novels. Recently, with the abundance of our garden fruit, I have become an avid maker of chutneys and preserves!