Revd Tracey Bateson has recently left ministering as a Chaplain in the Army to be with the Churches of Davington and Ospringe as Priest in Charge and Missioner to West Faversham. Tracey writes…
No-one is more surprised than me that I have been called to return to the Parish. I became a Christian at University (1996) whilst I was training to be a Primary School Teacher. From here I worked with Students for two years based at Marjon’s College, Plymouth before becoming a Youth Worker in two Anglican churches in the New Forest. I always said to God, ‘I would minister in the Church Of England, just don’t expect me to become an Anglican’! During this time I was called to become a Priest and in a very short while I found myself studying at Trinity College, Bristol (I think this was so I couldn’t change my mind and run away to Tarshish!).
Prior to this I had grown up in Somerset, the daughter of a dairy farmer and was blessed with a wonderful family and friends. At Trinity College as well as being fortunate to gain two degrees I captured a husband who has been my follower ever since (quite literally, as in 10 years of marriage, we have already lived in 7 houses!). Jack my husband is currently daddy day care to our wonderful toddler, John and starts ordination training himself next year as a SSM.
I served my Curacy in Bournemouth in a variety of different churches before responding to a call to the Army. Initially placements in the Army were just a ‘jolly’ to escape college and my curacy for a few weeks, but on becoming a Chaplain I wondered if there was any role any better to serve as a Priest. I enjoyed every moment of my 6 years, serving with the Infantry in Tidworth, the Royal Artillery in Gutersloh, Germany and overseas in Iraq, Kuwait and Canada. Most recently I was a Chaplain to a Phase One training establishment where we ministered amongst 17-31 yr olds and regularly had over 400 at church on a Sunday. Many soldiers came to faith and were baptised, so I was very surprised to be called out of a ministry which I enjoyed so much and seemed to fit who I am!
However, after much prayer and uttering the prayer; ‘Thy Will be done’, we feel very much Faversham is where we should be serving God. I am very blessed by two faithful church communities which are both distinctive in their worshipping styles and yet united in their desire to see the Kingdom grow. I welcome the opportunity of being Missioner to West Faversham and I look forward to seeing all that God is already doing as I seek to come alongside Him. What the future holds in store, at the moment only God knows, but with others in prayer we are seeking God’s way forward. Such prayer is often combined with my keen interest in remaining fit, so prayer jogging, cycling and walking form who I am! Any spare time quite simply is spent with my son, who is the greatest delight I could have ever wished for, even if at the moment his phrase; ‘mum go church again’, tugs at my heart! Thankfully he enjoys coming to many things too and I can see ministry growing as a consequence of links in the community through him.