The latest cohort of the County’s new priests and deacons – known as ‘ordinands’ – were ordained at the weekend, at seven services across the two days, to serve in parishes across The Church of England in Lancashire (Blackburn Diocese).
The group of 23 ordinands was the largest for several years and was made up of 11 Priests and 12 Deacons.
The ordinations, by Diocesan Bishop, Rt Rev Julian Henderson; the Bishop of Burnley Rt Rev Philip North and the Bishop of Lancaster, Rt Rev Dr Jill Duff, were originally scheduled to take place in June but were postponed due to restrictions caused by the pandemic.
The rearranged services were small gatherings held in accordance with current guidance.
Because of limited numbers the Diocese liaised with parishes hosting the ordination services to ensure livestreams were available to watch for those unable to attend in person.
Following the broadcasts – each watched by many hundreds of people – recordings taken from the livestreams are still available to watch via this page of the Diocesan website.
Now newly-ordained, the 23 women and men will serve in parishes located in Preston, Chorley, Whittle-le-Woods, Burnley, Pendleside, Fellside, Clitheroe, Padiham, Lancaster, Barrowford, Newchurch-in-Pendle; Poulton-le-Sands, Morecambe, Haslingden, Grane, Stonefold, Musbury, Poulton, Carleton, Singleton, Nelson, Ansdell and Fairhaven (Lytham), Blackpool, Dolphinholme, Quernmore and Over Wyresdale.
The ordination services took place at St Leonard’s in Padiham; St Cuthbert’s Church in Preston and Whalley Parish Church (for the 11 Priests) and Preston Minster; St James’ in Haslingden; Lancaster Priory and St Mark’s Church in Layton (for the 12 Deacons).
Speaking today Bishop Julian said: “It was a privilege for Bishop Philip, Bishop Jill and I to ordain our 23 candidates at the weekend's seven services.
"May their future ministry bring great glory to God as they share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those they live and minister amongst. I look forward to hearing about the blessing He has been able to bring through them to those they serve ... people coming to faith, growing in faith and responding to His command to go and to serve."
Bishop Julian’s comments come on the back of our new video released to coincide with the ordinations. It features two of the Priests, two of the Deacons and all three of our Bishops. Watch it now ...
In the video the featured candidates talk movingly about what led them to ordination. The Priests in the video are Kat Gregory-Witham, of Burnley St Matthew the Apostle (Habergham Eaves) with Holy Trinity and Ian Sarginson of Clitheroe St James.
Kat says: “For me, getting ordained was about saying ‘yes’ to what I thought God was asking me to do with the rest of my life. About being somewhere local and getting to know folks and helping them to discover God in their midst and together seeking to follow Jesus’ way.
“As I approach priesthood, I’m thinking about how God has called me into a role that’s about ‘feeding’: whether that’s feeding practically or spiritually, whether its emotionally or whether it’s about me being fed. But ultimately it’s about helping people find their place where they are welcome at the table with Jesus.”
Meanwhile Ian comments: “I first got ordained because I felt a strong call from God to ordained ministry and, however much I resisted, it just wouldn’t go away! Ordained ministry means I just get to serve; to serve in a practical and pastoral way and get to signpost people towards Jesus and his love.”
The video also features Deacons Matt Guilder, serving Lancaster St Thomas and Christina Walker of Dolphinholme with Quernmore and Over Wyresdale.
Matt says: “Before, I’d always be worried I wouldn’t be the right sort of person (to be ordained); that I wasn’t qualified enough, and I didn’t have all the skills.
“God said, ‘you’re right, you don’t have all the skills’, but He was going to train me and lead me in that path. So being ordained now is just a real joy and I’m really looking forward to serving people in this role, and to see God’s mission in the local church taking place.”
While Christina adds: “I am nervous and I am excited (about ordination) and I would say it feels a bit like I am about to get married, with all of the love and commitment and the sense of excitement that goes with that.
“There are going to be some great times along the road and there are going to be some difficult and painful times as well, but I feel sure I am doing what God has shaped me and brought me to do, so I am holding on to that sense of great excitement.”
In the video all three Bishops also speak passionately about the importance of the ordination weekend and the significance of the services; for the individuals being ordained and the Diocese as whole.
Bishop Philip comments: “These candidates are saying a huge courageous ‘yes’ to God; offering him their whole lives so they can make Jesus known. I am delighting in that courageous yes and I hope, also perhaps inspired by them, many others will want to say ‘yes’ to Jesus themselves.”
Bishop Jill adds: “Any calling from God is always beyond us. At Ordination we invite God to enlarge our hearts and to open our eyes to scripture in fresh ways. In short, we ask for the gift of His Holy Spirit.
"The more room we leave for Him to turn up as Lord in our lives, the more room we leave for visitation of the Holy Spirit and every day the more we live up to our calling.
"We live a new Pentecost today and every day. May this be so at our ordinations in Lancashire.”
And Bishop Julian concludes the video saying: “God is in the ‘sending business’ and our candidates are saying that they have heard and are responding to His call and command. We thank God that they are willing to be sent wherever He chooses.
“They are being sent to particular places around the Diocese (and) they arrive as individuals, sent by God to be part of His work already underway in that place.
“And they come with a message about a person, Jesus Christ; a saviour who longs to rescue people from sin and death and Hell.
"The communication of this life changing message is their prime task.”
Ronnie Semley, September 2020