CAPTION: The moment when the ordinands officially become a member of the clergy is marked by the adorning of a red stole

Devon’s New Deacons Looking Forward To “Getting Stuck In”!

Posted: 14th September, 2021

Exeter Cathedral was packed on Saturday 11 September as 16 new deacons (Church of England ministers) were ordained by the Bishop of Exeter.

The new reverends come from across Devon and beyond and will now start work as curates (newly qualified ministers) in churches across the county.

One of them, Rev’d Patricia Brenton, will be working as a chaplain at Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital.

Bishop of Exeter ordaining Rev’d Gareth Harper

Rev’d Gareth Harper, who will be joining the new Bay Church in Paignton, said “It simultaneously feels like the most surreal thing in the world and the most natural.

“It comes after a long time of training and of arguing with God and saying I was up for doing anything but getting ordained – but here I am so he got me in the end! It’s what I feel called to do and I am excited to be here and ordained a deacon.”

Rev’d Marilyn Sanders, from St Andrew’s Cullompton, said “It’s a huge privilege being ordained, one that I didn’t think would be mine.

“Going forward I am so excited for all that is to come.”

Rachel Dunn, who will be serving in Pinhoe, Exeter, said “It’s daunting and all very new but I am looking forward to working alongside my training vicar and getting stuck in to all that God has for us in the future.”

The ordination service is a significant moment in the life of a priest, where they are invited to say ordination vows and receive a blessing from their bishop.

During the service they symbolically mark the moment where they become a member of the clergy under Holy orders by putting on a red stole (scarf) over their black cassock (robe) and white surplice (outer garment).

Rev’d Christian Harris and Rev’d Rachel Dunn

They are also permitted to wear a dog collar for the first time.

Rev’d Christian Harris, who will be based in Totnes, said “We’re no more special than anyone else, so if you are feeling that call then do talk to someone about it.”

The Rev’d Prebendary John Fisher, Director of Ordinands for the Diocese of Exeter, said “Ordination is a really special moment in the life of those called to ordained ministry.

“I remember my ordination as deacon (27 years ago in the parish of Rayleigh, Essex) as if it was yesterday.

Rev’d Jonathan Reynolds with his training incumbent Rev’d Steve Jones

“For the 16 candidates ordained deacon by Bishop Robert on Saturday the service was the climax of years of thinking, praying and training about this new ministry.

“It was a beautiful, moving and wonderful occasion witnessed by so many of their family and friends, in person and on the livestream. Ours prayers are with them all.”

Bishop of Plymouth Nick McKinnel with the newly ordained Rev’d Peter Jackson

The service was also attended by the Bishop of Crediton and Bishop of Plymouth and Devon’s four archdeacons, plus representatives from Devon’s theological training colleges (SWMTC and St Mellitus) and the vicars who will be working with the new curates.

The 16 deacons who were ordained last year will be made priests at services across Devon later this month.

See the full list of the newly ordained and their benefices here. View a gallery of photos from the day here.


If you would like to find out more about what it means to be ordained, please contact our vocations advisor Hannah Mears.