A drama lecturer; an engineer; a primary school teacher; a police constable; a youth worker; a speech and language therapist; a chimney sweep and the former medical director of Trinity Hospice, Blackpool.
These are just some of the former or current jobs of the latest cohort of new priests and deacons – known as ‘Ordinands’ – who will be ordained this weekend to serve in The Church of England in Lancashire.
The group of 18 are currently on retreat at the Diocesan Retreat Centre at Whalley Abbey in Ribble Valley, preparing to be ordained at Blackburn Cathedral and other parish churches around the Diocese this weekend. There are 10 Deacons and eight Priests, half are under the age of 40. Ten of the ordinands are women and eight are men.
Cities, towns and villages in Lancashire where the ordinands will serve (Deacons-to-be) or are currently serving (Priests-to-be) are: Standish; Chorley; Ribchester, Hurst Green and Mitton; Blackburn; Blackpool; Kirkham; Whittle-le-Woods; Burnley; Preston; Leyland; Fleetwood; Whalley; Garstang; Clitheroe; Poulton and Burnley.
Candidates hail originally from places across Lancashire; the wider UK and beyond including Thornton-Cleveleys, Preston, St Annes, Blackpool, Burscough, Oswaldtwistle, Darwen, Higher Walton, Sale, Leicester, Yemen, Newcastle, Swansea, Montrose, Hawick, Chesterfield, County Fermanagh, Billingham and Dover.
The youngest candidate is a Deacon and the oldest is a Priest. Kat Gregory-Witham, 28, will serve St Matthew's with Holy Trinity, Habergham Eaves, Burnley and Barbara Pack, 56, will serve the ‘Joint Benefice’ of St Aidan, Mill Hill with St Luke, St Mark and St Philip, Blackburn.
All the Ordinands have willingly responded to God’s call on their lives and are ready and eager to get to work in their parishes as we collectively press forward with our Vision 2026 Healthy Churches Transforming Communities.
Kat Gregory-Witham said today: “I sensed that God was asking me to serve a local community, to offer Christian leadership and to gather people around God’s welcoming table. As a disciple of Jesus, I want to commit my life to follow where I think God is leading.”
Meanwhile Barbara Pack reflected: “I had always thought my calling was to be an organist and worship leader, but God had other ideas. I just had to be obedient and follow what God was calling me to be. I have given up lots of things in order to follow this calling.”
On Saturday, June 29, at Blackburn Cathedral the Rt Rev Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster, will ordain eight of the Deacons while Diocesan Bishop, Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, will ordain five of the Priests at services in the morning and afternoon at 10.30am and 2.30pm respectively. All are welcome.
There will be three further services for five other Ordinands in parishes the next day, Sunday June 30. Bishop Julian will ordain two Deacons at 10.30am at St John’s in Whittle-le-Woods at 10.30am and two Priests at St Andrew, Ashton-on-Ribble, at 2.30pm. Meanwhile the final Priest will be ordained by Rt Rev Philip North, Bishop of Burnley, at Fleetwood, St Peter and St David at 6pm.
Bishop Julian said: “We pray for those to be ordained deacon and priest. That they would exercise a faithful and Christ-honouring ministry and that their obedience to His call may inspire others to listen and discover their own vocation, whether it is lay or ordained.
“God is always asking, whom shall I send? So, it is a humbling moment for me as a Bishop to be able to ordain men and women who have responded to His call.”
Bishop Philip added: “Each year in our Diocese we see a fresh group of men and women of all ages responding to God’s call to become a Priest or Deacon in His church. Not only is it an exciting time for all of them, their friends and families who will attend their ordinations to support them; but it is also exciting for their parishes scattered across Lancashire.”
And Bishop Jill commented: “I am looking forward to presiding at my first ordination service since becoming Bishop of Lancaster and I pray that each of the men and women who are taking this important step will be a beacon of hope shining brightly for people across Lancashire to see.”
The Bishops will be joined at the services this weekend by The Dean of Blackburn, The Very Rev Peter Howell-Jones; the Archdeacon of Blackburn, The Venerable Mark Ireland and the Archdeacon of Lancaster, The Venerable Michael Everitt.
Pictures from the ordinations will be available to view early next week in albums on the Diocesan Flickr site as well as videos featuring our three Bishops, two of the Deacons and two of the Priests on the Diocesan YouTube channel.
Ordinations have taken place across the country and the Church of England will be tweeting throughout this current period on its national feed @churchofengland with our local Diocesan Twitter feed (@cofelancs) also active, both using #newrevs
Ronnie Semley, June 2019