The next step in answering God's call

First published 16th June 2016

The summer is an exciting time of transition within the Ministry Development department BAP candidates become ordinands; ordinands become deacons; deacons become priests; formation year students prepare to become Licensed Lay Ministers. Helen Collins, Adviser for Licensed Ministry, looks at what it will mean for those making these transitions.

Over the next two months, it will be my privilege to be involved in the transitions of over 30 people as they each make the next step in fulfilling their sense of God's call on their lives.

One of the most significant transitions comes for our new stipendiary deacons, who over the last few weeks, have been busy packing up their homes (again), saying goodbye to their churches and communities (again), and setting up new homes within their curacy contexts.

Four years ago, I was engaged in the same process and I have three strong memories from that time. Firstly, I remember being completely exhausted! After having moved house and settled our children who were then 1 and 2 years old - there was just enough time for a quick trip to Pembrokeshire before going on my pre-ordination retreat.

The retreat and ordination were wonderful occasions, but on my 6th night as a deacon, I had to go to bed at the same time as my children due to my utter exhaustion. I remember saying to my incumbent the next day that I didnt know if I could handle the pace of ministry. It was at that point that he kindly pointed out that I had met over 200 new people in two weeks and was bound to feel tired.

My second strong memory is how self conscious I felt wearing a dog collar. My training incumbent had encouraged me to wear it as much as possible so that I could get used to it. This didnt feel too strange when I was in the church or among people from the congregation. It felt incredibly odd however to wear it to the supermarket or at the park. I distinctly remember on one occasion walking around the parish and a man in a van wolf whistling to me out of his window as he drove past. I dont know who was more embarrassed when he noticed my dog collar and nearly crashed his van!

My third memory is of the complete rightness I felt in being an ordained minister. It had been a four year journey of discernment, selection, training and formation which had led me to this point of being a deacon and finally, I was doing what I had felt God call me to do. I discovered that it was an immense joy and delight to spend my days in prayer and preaching God's word to people; to hear their stories and pray with them; to share bible stories in school and minister to the bereaved; to lead God's people in worship and nurture them in their faith; to work with a variety of licensed colleagues and seek to develop to gifts of others. I felt as if I was made to do the role and that I was truly living out my vocation.

As various members of our diocese embark upon the different transitions necessary in following their vocations, will you join with me in praying for them? Perhaps you would also like to think and pray about whether God might be calling you to embark upon a similar journey of discerning your own vocation. As a church, we are praying to God for an increase in vocations to licensed ministry lay and ordained and I wonder, could he be calling you? We have a number of events coming up in the autumn to help people discern their sense of call.

For more information, please get in touch. You can contact Helen on or call 0117 906 0100

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