Term one at Cranmer Hall, Durham, is beginning

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.

Induction week hit me like a sledgehammer!

Matt: It was back in November 2016 when I went to my BAP (Bishop’s Advisory Panel) selection conference and it seemed like an age before my course started. But boy induction week hit me like a sledgehammer. Since starting on 10 September I have had seven sessions including a safeguarding day. One test assignment written and another group assignment underway.

My advice to anyone in a similar position would be try not to leave too big a gap between BAP and starting your training. I have found it difficult to try and resume focus again. That said, I’ve met a great group of ladies and gents, a real mixed bag of Readers and ordinands. There’s no pecking order at All Saint’s – we train together. Our pathways may be different, but our ministries are very similar. That shows in the input that everyone puts into the sessions and everyone is valued for ….well for just being there.

Work, home and study life is the biggest challenge. I can’t simply burn the midnight oil to study when I want. Especially if I’m up for a 12 hour shift at 5am and the calendar is getting tighter and tighter. Next weekend is my first residential weekend and I can’t remember ever being away from the wife and kids for a whole weekend.

Ah well, such is this cross I must bear. I think a 12 year old malt may help me get through the sleepless nights of not being woken up by a three year old at 2am and then finding the eldest trying to get in at 4. Did I mention how amazing my wife is?

On the upside I’ve been cured of Dyslexia, Yeeeeaaaaaa! Apparently now I have something called Irlen Syndrome, Boooooooo! Still being tested but I believe I get to wear cool tinted glasses and don’t get told off about them.

Going through the process of all this testing however showed me what lengths we go to in putting labels on ourselves: Dyslexic, suffer from Irlen’s, poor academic, not good enough, too fat, too thin, male, female, not holy enough…

We make a ton of excuses for not doing what we are called to do. What life has shown me is God overcomes these and he really uses us not-rights. If you have a look at that Book it’s full of us not-rights becoming just-rights!

With every blessing

Matt

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

Matt, All Saints

I’m Matt and I’m going to be training for ministry in the Church of England! Let me introduce myself. I am a father to two wonderful girls, Amy (7) and Emily (3), husband to a wonderful wife Kath (you’re kidding no numbers here!) and a senior paramedic for the North West Ambulance Service.

I suppose my journey started at about 11 years old when my Dad took me to a Billy Graham Crusade back in 1984 (there you go, given my age away). Looking back at it now it could have been set in the movies as I walked out under the famous gates stating “You’ll never walk alone”.

Far from being a successful struggle you see in the movies, however, the next 30 years I embarked on a rollercoaster of ups and downs, as do we all. I was diagnosed at school with dyslexia and I remember when discussing future careers my advisor, teachers and parents suggested that academic prospects were beyond my limitations and I should head for a trade.

To be honest it didn’t seem as gracious as that, it was more a case of coming to the realisation that when I mentioned going to sixth form everyone developed uncontrollable laughter! Over my career I have been an aircraft engineer, customer services advisor, arrears counsellor, financial advisor (in the bad old days), ambulance technician, and paramedic, culminating in my current role as a senior paramedic. A bizarre career, I know, but looking back at it God clearly had his hand in my development, both in life skills and achieving any kind of academic prospects.

I wouldn’t say I had any academic skills really, but over the years I’ve been moulded into a square peg that is to be driven, and driven, into that round hole that is ordained ministry. I can only imagine all the edges that are going to be knocked off over the next three years! More recently this epic change in vocation came from actually listening for a change. I’d been regularly reading my Bible, getting to grips with my prayer life, but it was only when I gave God some time to talk back that a literal millstone was removed from me.

 

Hazel, Durham

Introducing Hazel who has been exploring a call to ordination through the Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme.

Hazel was recommended for ordination training after her BAP (Bishop’s Advisory Panel).

Hello!

Welcome to Northern Call, a vocations blog by students from the Diocese of Manchester who are training for ordained ministry.

Over the next two years we will follow the three new ordinands as they begin their theological training.

It has been a long, emotional journey to reach this stage. Each has gone through a detailed and challenging discernment process which culminated in attending an assessment called a BAP (Bishop’s Advisory Panel). It is through this assessment that candidates are recommended for training towards ordination.

Amy, Hazel and Matt will introduce themselves and their modes of study, and they will share their highs and lows as they follow God’s call on their life.

We hope that you enjoy this blog and the journeys that will shared here. Please keep all our ordinands in your prayers as they step forward into the next phase of their calling.

 

 

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