We have the great privilege this month of having a curate for All Saints’ and St Mary’s ordained on the last day of June, Saturday 30th, at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford. Paul Walker will be ordained deacon in a service beginning at 2.00pm and to which we are all invited. Indeed, please do come to support Paul and pray for him, his wife Sheree and their daughters Charlotte (aged 7), Harriet (5) and Alice (7 months).
Paul has been training for ordination at Trinity Theological College Bristol but, as for most curates, a lot of day-to-day learning is going to take place ‘on the job’ amongst us. I’ve certainly got a number of days now fixed in my diary on which I have to have my ‘training incumbent’ skills refreshed so that I can offer the best to Paul during the time he is with us, which we expect to be between 3 and 4 years.
How can we best welcome Paul, Sheree and family? A key way will be by getting to know them as people and fellow members of God’s church here. What I mean is that we should fight the urge within us to think that when Paul is ordained he stops being part of the ‘laos’ – the people of God. Paul will not have become a member of an exclusive dog-collared caste on whom we can load unrealistic expectations and hopes.
God’s church is hugely hindered in its mission and ministry by an unhealthy clericalism which assumes clergy are the ‘ministers’ when the New Testament knows of no such demarcation. God’s people throughout this country, and in Faringdon too, urgently need to recover a sense of ‘every member ministry’, for the church to be the church as God intends.
As we see Paul responding to the particular call of God on his life and his family coming with him in this sacrificial and servant-hearted new start, we should also be opening ourselves up to the particular call of God on our lives. And as we pray for the Holy Spirit to fill and equip Paul and Sheree and the girls for all that lies ahead for them, we must then ask God to fill us again with his Spirit, so we allow Him to develop and use our gifts.
As we rejoice to welcome the Walkers, let’s allow God’s call to them and His gift of them to us remind us of God’s call to us personally and His gift to us of the Spirit to enable us also to live for the glory of God as his ministers here.
Yours in Christ,