Ordination “a new chapter” for 16 people serving Devon with joy
This weekend, 16 people will be ordained as new ministers in the Church of England in a service at Exeter Cathedral.
The nine men and seven women come from across Devon and range in age from 26 to early 60s.
They have spent the last two or three years training for ordained ministry and will spend the next year as deacons, working in churches or a chaplaincy role before becoming fully-fledged priests in a year’s time.
The service at 3pm on Saturday 11 September will be live-streamed on the diocese Facebook page.
Rev’d Hannah Mears, Diocese of Exeter Vocations Advisor said, “It’s really exciting to know that God has called these individuals and that they are about to step into a new chapter as they enter the mission field to serve the people of Devon.”
Some of this year’s ordinands have shared their personal experience of a call to ministry here:
Marilyn Sanders’ Story
“I didn’t grow up in a Christian family and came to faith after the birth of our third child who we named Grace. When Grace was born, I stood at her cot in the hospital during the night, just looking at her. I remember thinking, there must be a God, and I felt we didn’t deserve to have her as we hadn’t really planned a third baby. I kept my thoughts to myself and several months later, I was invited to church by someone in my street. I went along and after a few weeks began a course similar to Alpha.
“On week three of the course, the topic was the grace of God on the cross. I was asked, what I thought Grace meant. I had no idea what Grace actually meant, even though it was our daughter’s name. I was told, grace means God has given you something you don’t deserve. This had been my thought on the night that our Grace was born, and it was at that moment that I realised the truth of all that I had heard of Jesus and I gave my life to Him that day! It has changed my life every day since!”
“To serve Jesus in this way is a huge privilege. The responsibility to love, serve and lead the people of God in ordained ministry is an honour which I know has to flow from time in the presence of Jesus.”
Eleanor Oelmann’s Calling
“I felt my calling change from Readership (Licensed Lay Ministry) to Priesthood when working as a school chaplain in Kenya. My role encompassed both the children, staff and local school workers and I found that I was being called upon to pastorally and spiritually oversee this community.
“We returned to the UK and were immediately drawn into caring for my aged parents who both went into nursing homes and had a mixture of good and bad experiences. My calling into priesthood took on a new dimension as I recognised the vast need to spiritually care for people at the end of their lives.
“For me, serving God has different seasons and I feel that being ordained is the start of a new season where I trust God to open up new pathways, new ventures and new ways of sharing his light with those around me.”
Lewis Eden’s Journey
“It was through school where I first heard the Gospel preached. It was during some of these assemblies that something began to churn away inside of me. It was like a seed had been planted and was beginning to grow inside of me.
“I discovered that local Episcopal church, it was 2 minutes from my door, ran a youth group on a Saturday evening, and I started going along. It was through this youth group, and the school assemblies that were led by Daniel French, now vicar of Salcombe, that I started thinking about faith.”
After secondary school, Lewis then went to university and graduated with a degree in Forensic and Analytical Science. Following this Father Daniel French, Vicar of Salcombe, offered Lewis to get involved with the St Peter’s Foundation in Salcombe prompting his move down to Devon in 2016.
“After a few weeks in the foundation, I sat down in the living room of the house, and ask God: “I am here, what would you like me to do with my life?” This was perhaps a stupid, naive, brave and brilliant question to ask God. I sat and I waited. I waited and in the stillness a thought arose, it was “Lewis you are going to lead my church.” I argued against this. Over the next few weeks this thought kept on nagging at me, it kept recurring. And so, I asked God, “how am I going to lead your church?” to which the response was: “by being a priest, a vicar within my church.” I said to God: “fine then, I’ll do it.”
“Perhaps the biggest challenge I had, but the most enjoyable and transformational aspect of training was being able to spend some time in Kenya, within the Diocese of Kapsabet, and at St Paul’s Theological College, Kapsabet. Where I was able to understand a little more about what it means to be fundamentally a Christian within this world and what Anglicanism looks like out of Britain. I would completely love to revisit Kenya, if the opportunity ever arose.
“I guess you could say that I have good sense of Holy Fear about this, knowing that God has everything under control, but still not completely handing everything over to God. I am deeply excited to see how God shall use me and the people with whom I live, worship and serve for.”