How can it be a year?
On 1 July 2018 I will have been ordained deacon a year, and the day before I will, if all goes as planned, be ordained priest.
For those of you not familiar with the Church of England vocations process, it is quite a complicated affair. It starts with having a conversation with your vicar, then with the local Diocesan Vocations Advisor, and then, after many conversations, reading and possibly some essays, they may recommend that you attend a section conference. If you are approved at the selection conference (called the Bishops’ Advisory Panel or ‘BAP’) you then undertake 2-3 years of ordination training. During the final year of this you will be offered or have to look for a curacy in which to begin your ordained ministry. Then the big day comes and you are ordained deacon!
In the New Testament it talks about three types of leaders – deacons, priests (or presbyters) and bishops. A deacon is a position of service, and the ordination service states that deacons are called to ‘a visible life of self giving’ and ‘to wash the feet of others’.
So, in July 2017 I began my journey as a deacon. It has been a wonderful year, working alongside Richard and getting to know and serve everyone at St Mary’s and St Paul’s. I love the variety of the people I encounter – from our wonderful elderly folk I meet at Stoke Knoll to the mad joyfulness of Church Together; the beautiful, caring community at St Paul’s to the solemn awesomeness of our 8 o’clock Sunday communion.
This year has been full of wonderful opportunities like the Carnival, the Easter Sunrise service, being involved in Open the Book at the schools, and the exhausting but so worthwhile and incredible week that was Prayer Spaces. Our parish of Bishopstoke has so much going on and I am privileged to be in a place where I can be involved in or observe so much – from our ecumenical prayer meeting on a Tuesday morning to Messy Church to the Bible study group at Bishopstoke Park. It is wonderful to see our church so involved in our local community and working so closely with other churches. As my first year comes to an end I am so grateful for the welcome and community that you have given me.
So what changes? Well, in the Church of England you have a diaconate year – a year of being deacon. Right now, I’m ordained and I am a curate and I’m deacon. At the end of June I will have another ordination service – this time a priesting. So I will become a priest – confusingly I will still be a deacon but a priest as well, as you never stop being a deacon; and I’ll also still be a curate as ‘curate’ or ‘vicar’ / ‘rector’ is the title of the job that you do! Confusing, I know!
What does it mean to be a priest? What difference will it make? Well, in very practical terms I will be able to officiate at Holy Communion, marry people, and not wear my stole in a ‘Miss World across the shoulder sash’ look! However, there is more to it than that. Being a priest is to take on the mantle of the shepherd to be ‘a messenger, a watchman and a steward of the Lord’. To be honest I don’t really know what that change will feel like – ask me in a few months time! As a curate I have two more training years to watch and learn from Richard, to continue to serve at Bishopstoke, and to explore what it means for me to be a priest. Thank you so much for helping and supporting me so much on my journey so far. Who knows what God will do next year?!
With every blessing