Hazel: I was a little busy at the time the first posts went out, so allow me to explain how I got here…
I grew up in a town called Altrincham in the South of Manchester. After finishing school I travelled to India to work in a school and the USA to work in a church. I then spent three very happy years at Durham University playing sport, making friends and coxing for the men’s university rowing squad. I graduated in Theology in 2014 and moved back home where I completed my level 2 counselling certificate, earned a bit of money and met a boy called Sam.
I gave all that up in September 2015 when I moved down to London to live in Lambeth Palace as a residential member of the first year of the Community of St Anselm. Part of that year involved a 30 day silent retreat (optionally, I should add) where you were encouraged to bring questions of discernment. It was at this point I began seriously considering the possibility of ordained ministry. This led me back to Manchester at the end of the year to do the Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme (CEMES).
There are four things worth saying about this year back in Manchester. Firstly, I worked in an inner city parish church in East Manchester (The Church of the Resurrection and St Barnabas) which I loved. Second, I was reunited with Sam who proposed in February 2017 and I said YES. Third, I completed my level 3 Counselling Qualification. And finally, I went through the discernment process with the Church of England ending in July with my Bishops Advisory Panel (BAP).
A week or so later I got a call from the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, to tell me I had been recommended for ordination training. Hurrah! But this meant that August was a fairly packed month of moving out of the four bedroom vicarage I had been living in for the last year, finalising all the preparations for my wedding and saying goodbye to the church community that had embraced us so thoroughly.
We got married on 2 September which was an incredibly joy-filled day surrounded by friends and family. We left for our honeymoon to an island in the Maldives the following day. This was a glorious two weeks of paradise. Just a week or so after our return we moved up to Durham (a return home for me; a new adventure for Sam) for me to begin ordination training at Cranmer Hall.
Unfortunately due to our time constraints we didn’t manage to find anywhere to live before the wedding. Thankfully, my kind mother spent a whole day making phone calls while we were on our honeymoon to find us a flat to live in. On the downside you can probably get from one side of the flat to the other in about two steps (even with my short legs!). On the plus side, it is completely flexible for us to move out whenever we find something more suitable. Our spare time at the moment is taken up with looking for places to rent!
Sam is continuing with his work in Manchester. He has an agreement till December that he can work two days each week from home (as in, Durham) and then he will commute the other days. We have both been feeling slightly daunted by this but so far it hasn’t been too bad. We’ve joined our local gym, caught up with a few friends including my sister in Newcastle and gone on a couple of riverbank runs!
I have spent the last week or so in induction talks and I think I am finally starting to get my head around what I will actually be doing over the next two years and how the course structures work. I’m really excited about the modules I have chosen – Forgiveness in Pastoral Ministry and Theological Approaches to Spiritual Direction.
All in all, we are happy to be here. Both of us are looking forward to finding a place we can properly move into, not least because we want to make the most of the incredible things from our John Lewis gift list currently stored back in Manchester! Generally, life is good, we are happy to be here and happy to be married.