I was filled with doubt, but Jesus has me by the hand

Amy: I can’t believe how time has flown, that in a few weeks I will have finished my first year of training at St Mellitus! This time last year I had just found out that I had been recommended for training, I’m amazed how far I’ve come since then.

My family has settled into sunny Rochdale and my youngest three love their new school.  I’ve felt so proud of them all as they have adapted to the changes that have gone on in our lives.

I’ve enjoyed embracing worship with other Christian denominations in the town and have learnt so much perseverance from our Asian Christian Fellowship. I’ve shared in plenty of inter-faith fellowship and felt privileged to attend an Iftar on the night of the  Manchester Arena attack anniversary. I have felt a real sense of community and am enjoying serving the people; I’m proud to be part of sharing positive stories, creating the good news in Rochdale.

Being a full time ordinand with a work placement is challenging, some weeks I blink and realise it’s Sunday again and I’m not sure where the week has gone! Fitting in writing essays and group projects, sermon writing, children’s church activities, pastoral visits, and church services on top of usual mum things have pushed me to my limits.

I experienced a real slump recently as I struggled with a low mark I received for an essay. I had a panic that I would never really understand my degree; did I even know what theology is?  In that moment I was awash with doubt and desolation – what had I taken on? Why did God think that I could do any of this?

In the middle of this slump I realised that I was preaching the next day. Could I really preach through these feelings? Would it be easier to just not do it and make an excuse? Through this dark cloud of doubt I managed to see the hope and promise and call of Jesus on my life.

I dragged my doubt-ridden body into St Chad’s and slowly through the service I felt like I began to walk stronger. By the time I came to preach I knew I had to do it, and as I climbed the steps to the pulpit, looked out on the people in the congregation, I just knew this is where I was meant to be.

Being an Ordinand is an overwhelming huge thing, and if I’ve learnt anything, it is ok to feel this way. It is also ok to just about pass an essay, and it is ok to ask for help from friends, tutors, and family.

I sometimes feel like Peter who saw Jesus walking on the water. With much excitement I leapt over the side of the boat to walk to Jesus, then suddenly I realised that what was happening was so huge, that the storms were too scary, that I began to panic and sink. But the great thing is, that Jesus has me by the hand, and has us all by the hand whenever we feel riddled with doubt, or when we feel we are sinking.

It is perfectly ok to feel like I/we can’t do this, because we can’t on our own, we need Him to be with us – none of this is possible without God.

I am so grateful for this first year of training at St Mellitus. God has been so good to me and my family. I’m excited for what year 2 will bring, and how God continues to form and shape me for ordination.

I thank God every day for His calling on my life

Amy: My first Christmas as an ordinand was amazing! My family and I now live in Rochdale and I was able to host a Christmas party for the congregation at my home, which was so much fun. It is great living close to my placement churches in the town centre. I have held a few PCC meetings, preached several times, and I really feel part of the ministry team. I am learning much from them!

Working in the two parishes has been really interesting and exciting. There have been many high points but one of my favourites recently has to be sitting in the local pub with a pint enjoying the company of my supervising incumbent and our ministry team, while wearing our cassocks after an evensong. Serving, studying, and working is fantastic, and I thank God every day for His calling on my life.

Studying at St Mellitus has been better than I could have ever expected. I have felt some serious spiritual formation occurring in me as I learn and grow. I have made some wonderful friends who have become a key part of my life already. Our college week residential was such a unique experience, it was difficult leaving family for a week but the atmosphere and support from the college and fellow ordinands was great. During the week we had interesting lectures combined with breathtaking worship. Our healing service combined high church with contemporary music and worship, and on that night it felt like the gap between heaven and earth was very thin. The spirit moved powerfully that evening leading to many testimonies of healing in our college.

Studying and working is tiring but I feel well fed spiritually by my supervising incumbent and the support at college. There is always someone to reflect with and talk to and I am so grateful for this. On a recent college retreat to Walsingham I reflected on all the learning and experiences I’ve had so far. Travelling with my friends, walking the holy mile barefoot, worshiping in the Holy House was just beautiful. I have come to realise how much beauty there is in people and how God’s glory shines through everyone.

Studying, working, and having five children is always a challenge but I am so blessed by the support and love of my husband. Through these past months I have repeated over and over to myself that I could not be doing this training without him and without God’s love and guidance.

The end of my first year of training is rapidly approaching and it will be July before I know it! I have another weekend residential approaching and several essay deadlines too! Training for ordination is certainly challenging but I am still smiling and loving every minute!

Thanks be to God!

Half term!

Amy: It’s been a joy-filled half term serving in Rochdale and studying at St Mellitus. I feel like I’ve grown and changed already in this short time of formation and learning. The busy nature of college life was a shock to the system and I felt that I needed to carve out some clear times of quiet. I have been successful in this and have begun to rejoice in the fast pace of learning but also feel secure in God’s gentle and quiet love.

Some of my favourite parts of the half term have been sharing faith stories with fellow ordinands. It is truly amazing what God is doing in each person! I have really felt safe and secure being open around my colleagues at college and at the residentials.

The residentials are a fantastic mix of learning, worships, and fellowship. On the Saturday evening after the lectures had finished and worship had been shared, my friends and I sat and played various games. Bananagrams are the favourite at the moment! It is great to relax and socialise after a long day of lectures! And in the midst of all this learning, worshiping, and socialising there is the experience of a powerfull spiritual encounter with the God that calls us all. I am already looking forward to our week residential in early December!

I am completely in love with my placement churches, who have gently let me spread my wings whilst supporting and nurturing me. I preached for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I had a real sense that this is where God is calling me to be, to serve, to learn, and to grow. I am excited about the coming years with my supervisor and the ministry team there. I am hoping to move closer to my churches before Advent. I’ve sold my house, dropping my nets and following Jesus! My supportive husband and my children are excited about the move so please keep us in your prayers over the coming month!

Last Sunday evening I participated in a baptism and confirmation at St Mary’s, for the wonderfully faith-filled Iranian Christians that shine brightly with Jesus’s love. As I cleared up after communion with my supervisor, after the Bishop of Middleton presided, I had an overwhelming sense of thankfulness for God who has changed my life so completely. As I cleaned the silverware and listened to the organ gently play as the congregation looked on, I knew that there was nowhere else that I would want to be. I knew that serving God’s people, at our Lord’s table, surrounded by the warmth of the spirit, is where I am called to be.

I am so grateful to be where I am, and I thank God for this every day.

 

Amy, St Mellitus North West

Hello! I’m Amy, I’m 31 (32 in October!) and I’m about to start training for ordination at St Mellitus college North West. I’m married to my fab hubby Charles and we have five children aged 12,11,9,8, and 7 years old. I’ve recently finished a Masters Degree in creative writing and previously studied for a journalism degree at the University of Salford.

I will be studying full time at St Mellitus college’s campus in Liverpool cathedral, and serving in a work placement at St Mary’s in the Baum and St Chad’s church in Rochdale under Rev Mark Coleman’s supervision.

My calling began before I stepped foot into formal church worship. I have been a Christian all my life but had not experienced being part of a church before. I experienced a life changing dream that led me to quit my day job and go back to university. After I began studying, I stumbled into St James church in Ashton-Under-Lyne after feeling like I needed to get my children baptised. As soon as I began worshiping with the congregation I realised that following Jesus in his church was the missing piece of my life.

My calling steadily grew and I felt the need to try and use my skills as a writer to communicate my love of Christ to others. I began writing a Christian blog and became more involved at church. Soon I was delivering talks to the afternoon service and leading small prayer groups. I had never felt as alive as I did and do when serving in Christ’s name.

Being called to ordained ministry and having my calling confirmed by the Bishop’s advisory panel felt hugely humbling and exciting. I step forward in this new stage of my journey knowing that Jesus will be with me and all the other ordinands who are making the same steps as me

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