Where God wants me to be
Two final-year ordinands look ahead with joy and gratitude to serving their curacies:
My curacy parish of East Leightonstone was (at the time of writing) formed just 20 days ago, combining the parishes of Brampton, Grafham and Ellington in Ely diocese. It’s a semi-rural setting made up of one large village and two small villages located just outside Huntingdon where the A1 and A14 meet.
Grafham and Ellington are both fairly small places with a church experiencing the same things as many small villages across the country. A small group of faithful older people meet together to worship God and witness to their communities. There are opportunities for mission in both places but the resources to make it happen are often scarce. My prayer is that in my short time with them I might be able to walk alongside them on their journey and encourage them further to invest time and energy in growing God’s kingdom in their communities.
Brampton, by far the biggest party in the group, has a thriving traditional Eucharist early every Sunday and a growing contemporary service later in the morning. Messy Church is a successful venture and is starting to draw in more and more families. The church reaches out to the rest of the village in a variety of ways and seems to be growing in its witness and hospitality. There are many opportunities for a curate to grow and learn with a supportive congregation to help!
We are thankful to have a title post that has so much potential for growing in grace.
My training incumbent has been in post for a little over three years and will be a great source of wise counsel and prayerful support. He is already pencilling my name in for weddings in the summer of 2018 and I’m sure he’ll be glad to share some of the load with me as we work together to nurture a confident people of God across the three villages.
I take with me a wife and two young boys who are all looking forward to getting to know a new place! We are thankful to have a title post that has so much potential for growing in grace, learning to minister and deepening our family life. Roots down, walls down, bridges out!
When my DDO asked me, towards the end of my discernment process a couple of years ago, to name a Bible verse which spoke to me, Nehemiah 8:10 was the first scripture that came to mind: 'the joy of the Lord is my strength'.
Ridley’s new principal Michael Volland began his opening address to the community with the same words. Reflecting on this scripture now, I recall that one of my favourite songs as I was growing up was ‘Joybringer’ by Manfred Mann, and realise that, in that wonderful way God has of going before us, this message of ‘joy’ was something that he was already trying to get my attention with!
Indeed, since becoming a Christian twenty-five years ago, I now know the meaning of real joy. Yes, there have been many difficult moments in that time, and even during training here at Ridley there have been lows amongst the highs. But God is faithful, and his constant presence and provision, and the way that he continually goes before us, is truly awesome. As I now find myself in the penultimate term of ordination training, I can only say what a constant joy and privilege it has been to have spent that time at Ridley. God’s abundant love is evident not only in the beauty of the surroundings but more importantly in the people with whom I have come into contact, both students and staff, inside and outside the college.
I trust that I am exactly where God wants me to be.
As I now draw ever closer to my curacy in Chipping Ongar, Essex, I find myself excited, if not a little daunted! But I trust that I am exactly where God wants me to be. My incumbent, her husband and those in the congregation I have had a chance to meet are all lovely. I have also discovered that the community development officer with whom I worked collaboratively in my previous parish has recently been transferred to Ongar! I look forward to once again working with him on local projects in which Christian input can be part of the community.
My prayer, not only for myself and all those being ordained with me this coming year, but for the whole family of God, is that we may all be vessels of God’s love and joy to all those we meet, that they too draw strength from the joy of knowing we are loved by God through our Lord Jesus Christ.