I’ve been asked to write a piece, by way of introducing myself to you all, to describe my journey into ordination training, which I am undergoing at St Mary’s, Redbourn. I was raised by Christian parents, who had a strong faith, and were actively involved in their local Baptist church. So it was natural for me to grow up believing in God. Until the age of 11 I lived in Stanmore, but my family became part of a free church that was opening a Christian school in Hemel Hempstead, so we moved to the town to be involved with the project, called The King’s School, now based in Harpenden.
In my teenage years I began to take my own steps of faith, I helped lead the Christian Union at my sixth form, Longdean School, and knew that I wanted to serve God all my life. I had been raised on stories of missionaries, and I took a gap year to attend a Bible College, thinking that God may call me to a mission field overseas. However, no such sense of call came, so on the advice of my minister I went to university, and studied Biology at Southampton.
Towards the end of my degree, I began to pray again about going overseas on mission, but had no clear sense of direction from God, then I met my husband to be, and all thoughts of overseas missions evaporated! We were soon engaged, and married the following year. I had considered being a teacher, but a research post at the hospital opened up, along with the opportunity to study for a PhD, so I spent 10 very fulfilling years in medical research, during which time I had my two sons, Joshua and David. Raising two boys has been a lot of fun, we enjoy going to the movies together; Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Marvel and spy movies being favourites, as well as many hours spent discussing football….. (Chelsea and Southampton!)
We moved back to Hemel Hempstead, to be nearer to our extended family, and began to attend Soul Survivor, Watford. It is part of the Church of England, but meets in a converted warehouse, and has a contemporary style of worship and an informal atmosphere. I re-trained as a science teacher, and have been teaching at John F Kennedy Catholic School for 8 years now. I thought that was the last of my career changes, but God had other ideas! I was in a Sunday morning service when I had a strong impression that God was calling me to explore ordination training. It was completely out of the blue, and not something I had ever considered, and not the tradition I am from, so I took some time to read books about the Church of England, and argue with God, but after a few months the idea would not go away, so I began to discuss it with my minister, and then with the Church of England’s vocation officer, and finally the Diocesan Discernment Officer. I visited a variety of Anglican churches and completed placements at St Benedict’s in Bennetts End, and St Lawrence, Bovingdon, to learn more about the life of a parish church and priest. Finally, I was recommended for training by a Bishop’s Advisory Panel, after a 3-day conference, where I had to undertake various tasks including group presentations, discussions and in-depth interviews.
I am now in my first of three years of training, I attend St Mellitus College in London as a part-time student. This involves weekly evening lectures, nine residential weekends and one residential week per year for three years. I have regular assignments, mainly essays, to complete throughout the year. I am continuing to teach part-time, as I have two sons at university to support! After the college course is finished I will then continue training as a curate in a different setting for another three years. I am grateful that the diocese recommended St Mary’s as an ideal place to train, with its strong leadership team, rich traditions, and loving, friendly and outward looking community, not to mention the beautiful church and grounds. I am enjoying learning to worship in more traditional ways, in particular singing as part of the choir, as well as helping with the Gospellers youth group. I will also have to do some preaching as part of my training, the most scary part! I greatly appreciate the opportunities and support I’ve been given at St Mary’s. I look forward to getting to know many more of you in the time I have here.