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10 new Deacons ordained

Published: 24th September 2023

The Auxiliary Pathway deacons with the Bishops, Archdeacons & course leadersTen candidates were ordained as Deacons on Sunday to serve in parishes across the Diocese.The candidates have been part of a new training pathway aimed at those who see their vocation as being non-stipendiary (voluntary) ministers to churches in their local area.

All those being ordained have already been involved in some kind of lay ministry within their parish. They were nominated by their incumbents to be part of the two-year training scheme and are currently at the start of their second year of this. They will continue training while also working in their parishes as a curate.

The ordination services were led by Bishop John and candidates were ordained by Bishop Martin. The Archdeacon of Worcester, Robert Jones, preached having led a quiet day for the candidates ahead of their ordination.

Those ordained:

  • The auxiliary pathway deacons before their ordinationMartin Allen, to serve at St Laurence’s Church, Alvechurch and Holy Trinity, Redditch
  • Mike Bunclark, to serve in the Worcester Southeast Team
  • Fiona Carter, to serve in the benefice of Christ the King, Redditch
  • James Homer, to serve in the benefice of Elmley Lovett with Hampton Lovett and Elmbridge with Rushock and Hartlebury and Ombersley with Doverdale
  • Rachel Homer, to serve in the Halas Team
  • Val Houghton, to serve in the benefice of Brierley Hill
  • Norman Jevons, to serve in the benefice of Darby End and Netherton and the benefice of Dudley Wood and Cradley Heath.
  • Jen Jones, to serve in the benefice of Teme Valley South
  • Sally Knowles, to serve in the Worcestershire West Rural Team Ministry
  • Linda Nicholas, to serve at St Peter’s Church, Ipsley

Bishop John said: “This is a very exciting time in the life of the diocese of Worcester when we ordain more people as deacon on one occasion than has happened for a long time - possibly ever. Those to be ordained, who have worked very hard in preparation, will be a great blessing to the church and to the world and I pray for God’s rich blessing on their future ministry.”

Quotes and background information from the candidates:

Martin Allen (Alvechurch and Holy Trinity, Redditch)

I have lived in Alvechurch for 35 years worshipping at St Laurence’s Church. In that time, I’ve served a nearby community as GP and am now winding that vocation down. I am humbled and amazed to be being ordained and look forward to expanding this part of life. Humbled because the opportunity to serve people locally is a privilege. Amazed because people have seen something in me that I did not recognise. The auxiliary pathway felt the right “fit” for me enabling me to stay locally focused and capitalising on prior work and faith experience. The discernment process has been a mix of careful prayerful consideration and at times a sprint! With each step the support of the diocesan team, my parish and those also exploring have been a rich blessing. Together they have all helped me find an answer the question “does a desire to serve God mean ordination?”. I can now answer yes, with no reservations!

Mike Bunclark (Worcester South East Team)

I have lived and worshipped in St Martin’s, London Road for nearly 30 years. In that time, I have served as a PCC member, Churchwarden, Deanery Synod Rep and Lay Chair of the Deanery. When I approached retirement, I began to explore what else God may be calling me to do. After some initial discernment, I embarked on the Reader Training Course. On successful completion I was licensed as a Reader in 2013.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my ministry as a Reader over the past 10 years, but I developed a niggling feeling something was missing and that I perhaps should have tried for ordination but that the time had passed.

When the Auxiliary Pathway was announced I felt I had to apply because it offered me the opportunity to explore ordination which I had felt would never come. With the particular focus on my local community and surrounding area, it felt like it was designed for people like me. There has been tremendous support from the bishops, the training team and the Assistant Directors of Ordination who have guided us through the CofE Ministry Division’s Shared Discernment Process.

I am ever grateful that they have brought me to the point of Ordination as Deacon and I am both humbled and excited as I look forward to the next phase of my ministry as a curate in the South East Worcester Team.

Fiona Carter (Christ the King, Redditch)

I have recently taken early retirement from my nursing job, a career which spanned over 40 years. I am married to Rod and have four grown up children and five grandchildren. We have been active members of the church for many years, but I would say my faith was ignited during a long weekend at New Wine. Jesus became alive to me. Following that revelation, I started to really want to serve the parish and following a heartfelt prayer in which I said “just let them ask me to do anything” I was asked to help with children’s work which I did in many ways for a long time. Following that I felt called to reader training and have been a reader for five years. But during that time felt I was being called to ordained ministry. The auxiliary pathway has been great for me as it involves learning on the job. I am serving in the benefice of Christ the King where I am really happy. What I am involved in has been really varied, and it is so great that I will stay in this benefice. I want to serve the people there, those in church and those in the community. The benefice is Anglo-Catholic and whilst I have been here, I have experienced the joy of sacramental worship.

James Homer (Elmley Lovett with Hampton Lovett and Elmbridge with Rushock and Hartlebury and Ombersley with Doverdale)

So the day is here. Not excitement, as many presume, rather like a promotion; but a deep sense of satisfaction or relief, leavened with unworthiness at the prospect of serving God further. And in addition a sense that the old James is being superseded and transformed into a new one. Amen

Rachel Homer (Halas Team)

I was born and have been raised in the West Midlands attending a Pentecostal Church with my parents from the age of two. I made my own personal commitment to God aged eight and was baptised at age 18. Over the years I have had many roles in church from youth leader to worship leader – a role I took from age 12 until I was into my 30s. Each of these roles, including working as a teacher and Deputy Head in a local Church of England Primary has helped me reach the point of ordination.

Around nine or ten years ago my husband and I found ourselves searching for a new place of worship. This was no-one’s fault, but a new season for us meant a new church. We settled (surprisingly) in a CoE church, where we remained until 2018 when once again we were called to move and at this point we found St Peter’s Church in Lapal. Following a brain injury which left me unable to work, the pandemic during which my father and my mother-in-law passed away, I realised I was returning into a world which was totally unlike anything I had thought I would be living, despite a constant, unexpected inner peace. Then in 2022, Revd Hazel told me of a new ‘auxiliary’ pathway, which she believed was something I should be a part of. In that moment, a nagging calling to ministry which I had some 10 years ago resurfaced and suddenly I knew what God wanted me to do. I suddenly had a purpose and a passion again. Although the discernment and training has not been easy, I have had tremendous support from family and friends, and I have been blessed beyond measure as God has revealed his plan for my life.

Val Houghton (Brierley Hill)

I have lived and worked all of my life in the Black Country. I was baptised at Christ Church Quarry Bank in May 1953 and confirmed there in February 1966. I left the Black Country for a brief three years to train as a teacher at St Mary’s CE Training College in Cheltenham before returning to teach in schools in Dudley and in Birmingham. 

Since retiring I have served in the Brierley Hill Team as a Licensed Lay Minister (Reader) for the past eight years. Through the grace of God, I now find myself being ordained to continue to serve God in my home community. This great gift has come through the Auxiliary Pathway to ordination. It has been a life changing and life transforming year of training and discernment. I am looking to serving in the Team Ministry as a deacon and to continuing the Auxiliary Pathway training.

Norman Jevons (Darby End and Netherton and the benefice of Dudley Wood and Cradley Heath)

I'm really pleased to be ordained Deacon and serving within the Forge Group of Churches. My journey of faith began at the small Wesley Bible Institute across from my parents' house in Darby End, Netherton. And through a love of music, a talent for singing and an invite from a friend, I joined Top Church choir and experienced the richness of the choral tradition for the first time. Music led me to St. Andrew's Church in Netherton which is where I met and married my wife, Angela. Together we have two children, now grown; Lara and Richard.

Over the years I have experienced a deep and abiding love for God and sought to serve him and the church using those gifts I possess; Chorister, Churchwarden, Licensed Lay Minister for 17 years - leading worship and working with some truly gifted priests and other LLMs over that time. However, in more recent times words spoken to me by others opened up a different path for me, that of the Auxiliary Pathway and, through discernment, training and a Bishop’s Advisory Panel I have been accepted for Ordination, which is for me both a delight and a new way of living out God's call for me. I hope and pray that this different ministry will be as rewarding as all those I have previously exercised.

Jen Jones (Teme Valley South) 

When the opportunity arose to be part of the Auxiliary Pathway, I was in floods of tears, as I couldn't believe that I had been given an opportunity for ordination. At the time I was training for lay ministry and it’s been hard work balancing and completing the Licenced Lay Ministry training course at Queens as well as working towards retirement at end of March but it has all been worth it. I’m really enjoying the Auxiliary Pathway training and the encouragement and support from the training team has been brilliant. It has also been invaluable to hear about the Bishops’ own journeys. It is a privilege to be working alongside the Revd Julia Curtis as a curate within Teme Valley South Churches

Sally Knowles (Worcestershire West Rural Team Ministry)

If you had told me a couple of years ago that I was going to be ordained in September 2023 I wouldn’t have believed you. I was leading a happily retired life, involved with church life as an ALM when my incumbent came to visit me to tell me that Worcester Diocese was introducing a new course – the Auxiliary Pathway, which could lead to possible ordination. My initial thoughts were ‘God has finally cornered me; how was I going to get out of this?’

I suppose ordained ministry had been in the back of my mind for a very long time, but I could never see myself going to theological college because I had a very satisfying job as physiotherapist. Now, having retired, I had no excuses and God has affirmed to me in so many ways over the last twelve months that I am finally doing the right thing and putting Him first. I have enjoyed every minute of the course and look forward to serving Him in the years ahead in my new role.

Linda Nicholas (St Peter’s Church, Ipsley)

I had thought about ordination previously but wasn’t sure I was called to that ministry. However, whilst working on funeral ministry as a Reader on one occasion I had a sense that people were looking for a vicar and the pull was so strong that I felt this was a call from God. I earnestly prayed about it and when the Auxiliary Pathway became a tangible opportunity, I knew that it was the answer from God and an answer to my prayer. It is a real privilege to be taking part. The training is magnificent! It is locally based, and I’ve found it fun. Everyone has their ups and downs through the training, but we’re a very friendly bunch and all support each other. I have built friendships through the course and I’m really looking forward to being ordained and starting my curacy in my home church of St Peter’s, Ipsley.

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Page last updated: Sunday 24th September 2023 10:39 PM

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