So this is a blog post I should have written ages ago… But the last month has held so much. This is an ‘update post’ with all the latest that God’s been doing in my life…
The big news is that I have finalised my Pastoral Assistant placement. I was kindly offered quite a number of interviews, and eventually got them down to two – both of which I was, to my surprise, offered. After much deliberation and prayer I finally made my choice while sat in the Lady Chapel at Guildford Cathedral (a place, incidentally, well – well – worth a visit).
From September I will be the Pastoral Assistant in the parish of St. Michael’s and All Angels, Sheerwater – near to Woking and Guildford. This is currently a combined parish with All Saints, Woodham – but with some extensive redevelopment planned in Sheerwater the Diocese have made moves to create a single parish.
I’ll be living on the estate, getting stuck in and hopefully becoming a part of the fantastic community there. It’s going to be a huge change from the sort of parish I’ve always lived in, with many new challenges to face, but it’s a true privilege to be invited into the area and to have a role to play.
Meanwhile I will still be continuing to explore vocation to ordained ministry through Gloucester Diocese. It will give me a good excuse to return home from time to time, it seemed a needless shame to split from Gloucester, and the people in the Diocese – both those within Church House and the clergy and laypeople around – are simply wonderful. As well as that, if I were to be ordained anywhere in the world I could only chose Gloucester Cathedral. As the scene of so many life changing moments, and a pretty constant friend, it could only be there.
Meetings with the DDO continue, and I’m extremely grateful for all the prayers offered for me in the lead up to them, and at any other time. It’s helpful far beyond any words I could express on a blog. To my surprise my last meeting felt particularly positive, and the process has been sped up by three months. I’m therefore, if the current plans work out, seeing the Diocesan Assesors in October, the Bishop (the Bishop of Tewkesbury, who will be acting Bishop of Gloucester by then) in January and attending BAP in March. There are some huge ifs and buts in that – as always I let God set the pace – but that’s the ‘pencilled in’ plan!
And so my day to day life now includes the very occasional bit of paid website design work, but mostly winding down my old commitments in the community here, meeting people and visiting places, reading an inordinate amount of books, and trying to fit in a sometimes dizzying amount of prayer. It’s also a privilege to ‘shadow’ my parish priest a few times a month, distributing the Chalice at the local residential and nursing homes, I was able to lead the Mothers’ Union Quarterly Service, and the deeply moving experience of deaconing at the Parish Eucharist on a few Sundays, which felt appropriate for a number of reasons. To simply pour the wine into the chalice and lay out the wafers, and be behind the rail during the Eucharistic Prayer.. It brings home just what an honour this role would be.
Since my last blog post I was also fortunate enough to spend a week with Trinity, Cheltenham – a fascinating experience at a completely different Church to my own. It was a challenging experience in many ways, but extremely helpful and I’m grateful to everyone there for the time they so willingly gave to explain what they do and answer my questions. I also spent a fascinating weekend in York, at the Inclusive Church Annual Lecture and getting to meet quite a number of people at Synod over the following two days. Again, a deeply challenging weekend at times – learning what being an Ambassador for a broken Church really entails – but a chance to meet and spend time with absolutely fantastic people dedicated to God, and to moving His Church ever closer to Him.
That’s enough for now anyway… Thank you so very much again for the continued messages of support and prayer, if you want to get in touch with me please feel free to drop me an email or prod me on Twitter!