CAPTION: Bishop Robert with Reverend Helen Sherlock just after her ordination in 2018

Bishop to ordain 14 new ministers to “most rewarding job in world”

Posted: 13th September, 2019

A former mental health nurse, a previous Great British Bake-off contestant, a business manager and a trained puppeteer are among the 14 men and women being ordained as new church ministers in a ceremony at Exeter Cathedral on Saturday 14 September.

This year, nine women and five men are being ordained.

The ordinations follow a rigorous selection process and several years of training at theological colleges, including the South West Ministry Training Course, based in Exeter, and St Mellitus College in Plymouth.

The 3pm service will be led by the Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Rev’d Robert Atwell.

One of those being ordained is Gerda van Ommeren, originally from the Netherlands.

She said: “The reason I am here is because I felt called by God. Originally I thought it was just to live here and work here and ‘be happy’.

“But actually I found out he wanted me to work in his church, here in Devon.”

Gerda, who is a trained puppeteer and will be working in Paignton once she is ordained, said she is most excited about getting to work with children and young people.

She said the actual moment of ordination will be very symbolic to her:

“It feels weird and very significant now I am approaching ordination.

“I think when I have that clerical collar on it will make more sense for people who don’t know me when I go up to talk to them!

“To be ordained is to be a leader, but one who is constantly serving their community.”

Once they are ordained, the new ministers will be known as deacons. Some of them will go on to become priests after 12 months in a ceremony known as priesting.

Some of the new deacons will be working in paid roles and others will be self-supporting.

The Diocese of Exeter is keen to encourage more young people from Devon, women and BAME candidates to consider ordination.

It has recently appointed a new Vocations Officer, Rev’d Hannah Mears, to advise people who might be considering a career in the Church of England.

Bishop Robert said: “Christian ministry is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world and we want to encourage young people in Devon to explore their calling into it.

“We want our church ministers to genuinely reflect the communities in which they serve.”

The Rev’d John Fisher, Diocese of Exeter Director of Ordinands, said it was incredibly exciting to support the new deacons and that their example “should encourage all followers of Christ to re-consider how they are serving God.”