James Milwain: ordained deacon on 30 June 2019

"It has been wonderful... to proclaim the Gospel, to preach regularly and to serve at the altar."

Hello, I’m the Reverend James Milwain and I am in many ways returning home to the Diocese, having grown up close to the city of Derby.

Despite moving around a fair bit in the past ten years, I still felt a calling to serve back amongst the people of this region.

My own story of faith began quite typically as a cradle Anglican, baptised as a baby and having then attended a church primary school.

After that - and I suspect again quite typically - I spent my teenage years entirely disinterested in the church! But this wasn’t to last forever.

Slowly but surely, I was drawn back into the church community. Whilst working as a graduate in the City of London, I began again to appreciate the power of sacred space and how it can inspire and lift our minds to God.

I felt that presence of the communion of saints and believers throughout the mystical Body of Christ. A new richness had been added to life!

>> In pictures: Ordination of Deacons (on Flickr) | Ordination of Priests (on Flickr)
Vocations: what is God's plan for you?

However it was during a visit to a friend in Milan that I experienced a significant galvanisation of my calling. Stood in the Duomo, before an ornately carved crucifix, I was simply struck by the beauty of the suffering of Christ. In that moment, there was nothing more beautiful, nothing more meaningful than that singular act of sacrifice upon the cross. It was from that point on that I was set on the road to offering my life in service to Christ’s church.

It was this path towards ordination that has taken me on a fascinating and quite unpredictable journey: from working in expatriate tax as a graduate, to living in an international L’Arche community alongside people with and without disabilities, to spending three years in theological college and enjoying eight months at university with the Protestant church in Germany! Not too long ago, all of this would have come as a real surprise.

But these experiences were ultimately in service of the church and led me towards that moment when the Bishop of Derby laid on hands and invoked the Holy Spirit at Petertide this year. The ordination is perhaps best described as an occasion that manages to be joyous, awesome, astonishing and daunting all at once!

The sense of the gifts of the Holy Spirit being sent down through the intercession of Bishop Libby, in that great succession of the faithful all the way back to the Apostles, is one that will certainly never leave me.

And it must be said that the very stark emotions of ordination stick around for a while afterwards! But soon enough, having arrived at the Crooked Spire in Chesterfield, it was time to encounter a whole new set of experiences.

Those were the joys of serving as a Deacon amongst the people of the parish and discovering anew all the delights, all of the more ‘formative’ moments and everything else in-between that parish ministry offers. I can confidently say that it has been nothing but a privilege thus far!

To be a Deacon in this first year of curacy offers a great deal of variety. It has been wonderful to dive into the liturgy of the parish, to proclaim the Gospel, to preach regularly and to serve at the altar. Alongside these things has been the opportunity to meet the wider community; through occasional offices, town events and by being visible around the parish.

But perhaps the greatest privilege of being a Deacon has been the chance to meet people at different times in their lives, to represent the church, and to hopefully reveal something of God.

To visit the many wonderful people of the parish and to pray with and for them is the greatest honour. In return, the love and welcome that has been extended to me by so many people is hard to comprehend.

For those who are themselves considering ordained ministry; yes, there will be sacrifice in any calling to the ordained life, but above all a life of prayer and service is one overflowing with God’s gifts.

Those ordained deacon by Bishop Libby at Derby Cathedral on 30 June 2019: Sally-Anne Beecham, Rhoda Blackwell, Brenda Jackson, Elaine Jones, Dawn Knight, James Millwain, Jenny Newman and Anthony Till

>> Meet Dawn Knight

>> Meet Anthony Till

>> Meet Elaine Jones

See also

Vocations: what is God's plan for you?

Sally-Anne Beecham: ordained deacon on 30 June 2019

"God is on the move and I’m excited to be joining in!"

I’m Sally-Anne Beecham and live in Chesterfield with my husband and two children aged 12 and 14. 

I became a Christian at 21 after a friend at University told me about her faith and I nervously tried her church one Sunday.  

During the service the minister had a word for ‘someone new’ and then proceeded to speak of something only I could have known – it’s fair to say that Jesus had my full attention from then on!  

I don’t come from a Christian family, had no experience of church growing up and will never forget how alien it all felt in the beginning.   I pray I will never forget those experiences so I’ll always remain sensitive to those new to church.  

My working life began as a secondary school teacher in performing arts in London, and then moved into education social work and youth offending support.

For the past eight years I’ve worked as Operations Manager at St Thomas’ Brampton, which is where the call to ordination crept up on me.  

I loved my job but I realised I was becoming more and more interested in what the clergy were up to.  Eventually I reached a point where the idea of not pursuing ordination left me feeling completely empty and so I began to push some doors.  After local and national selection I began training at St Hild Theological College in Yorkshire in 2016.  

My three years of training have been a challenging juggle of family, work, study and placements, but it’s also been an incredible experience.  

   >> In pictures: Ordination of Deacons (on Flickr) | Ordination of Priests (on Flickr)
Vocations: what is God's plan for you?

The highlights were spending summer schools in Durham with the cathedral staff and spending weekends alongside the brothers at Mirfield Community of the Resurrection.  

If I had to sum up what I’ve learnt I’d say - it’s not much about me and ALL about Jesus, and that if I’m flailing, it’s usually because I’m trying it in my own strength. 

I’ve also been reminded of the value of community, in fact more than community - family – doing life with others, learning more about Jesus with others, and I look forward to being part of more and more families over the years. 

The Ordination Service on 30 June was beyond special, made all the more so by the number of familiar faces. I’ve been truly humbled by the support and good wishes I’ve received from both my sending and receiving churches. 

Since then I’ve started my curacy in Bakewell Benefice with one day a week in SS Augustines' parish, Chesterfield.  

I hit Bakewell in carnival week and so induction has involved raft racing and fancy dress – what a start! 

sally anne raft 

Ministry over in Chesterfield is also going to be interesting, I’ve been involved with a homeless project, Hope House Chesterfield, for the past two years and it’s great to be continuing with this.

I think ministry is going to be challenging and varied because so is life, but God is on the move and I’m excited to be joining in. 

Favourite Bible verse:

Isaiah 42:16 -

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

Favourite hymn: 

Be Thou my Vision

...both speak of God’s unremitting presence and his tenacious love, truths that keep me going.

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Those ordained deacon by Bishop Libby at Derby Cathedral on 30 June 2019: Sally-Anne Beecham, Rhoda Blackwell, Brenda Jackson, Elaine Jones, Dawn Knight, James Millwain, Jenny Newman and Anthony Till

>> Meet Dawn Knight

>> Meet Anthony Till

>> Meet Elaine Jones

See also

Vocations: what is God's plan for you?

Thursday, 27 June 2019 09:59

Meet our ordinands: Elaine Jones

Elaine Jones: ordained deacon on 30 June 2019

"I met Jesus sitting on a beach one evening at Easter"

I was born in Scotland and raised in the Church of Scotland, until the age of 9 when we moved to live in Cyprus after my dad was posted there. 

In between riding horses and enjoying the Mediterranean beaches I attended a Pentecostal church. 

I loved the charismatic worship and the energetic music and attended the youth group. 

I met Jesus sitting on a beach one evening at Easter at the age of 15 during a youth event. 

My love of horses took me to study equine management in Devon before returning to Cyprus where I met my military husband, Andy. 

On returning to the UK, getting married and having our two girls, Alex and Rebecca, church took a back seat until my husband decided to take the girls to our local parish church.  Within six weeks, I had joined the choir, re-kindled my relationship with God and found myself enrolled on a course in Christian Discipleship. 

My vicar and good friend began to challenge me to think about where God was calling me; in particular to a role within leadership in the church. 

Working in education at the time and leading the youth groups I felt content in my role but recognised a constant ‘nagging’ in the back of my mind that God was prompting me to respond to the challenge.

I knew he wasn’t going to give up until I did so I bit the bullet! 

After being licensed as a Reader in 2009 and moving into full time youth ministry in 2012, I was well on the way in exploring the call I felt towards ordained ministry. 

After being recommended for training in June 2017 I became a full-time student at The Queen’s Foundation in Birmingham and have loved the opportunity to study theology. 

I am passionate about social justice and community transformation through the gospel and I am looking forward to being ‘on the ground’ again in my curacy. 

When I am not working or studying, I enjoy socialising, baking cakes, watching films and reading trashy novels!  I also love to be by the water – I love the sea and hate being so far from it but am looking forward to getting to know the canals and waterways of Sawley and beyond. 

Andy and I are just starting to enjoy the perks of having grown up children and being able to sneak in weekends away and days out and enjoying being ‘where we are’ in our journey together. 

My journey to ordination has been a long one; but always with the sense of being led into the right place at God’s right time – even when that was tough. 

It is tempting to rush in or try to pre-empt what is next and learning to sit, pray and ‘be’ has been key in my journey and trusting God’s prompting to take the next step to where I am – and where God is taking me next! 

Bring it on!

Those being ordained deacon by Bishop Libby at Derby Cathedral on 30 June 2019: Sally-Anne Beecham, Rhoda Blackwell, Brenda Jackson, Elaine Jones, Dawn Knight, James Millwain, Jenny Newman and Anthony Till

>> Meet Dawn Knight

>> Meet Anthony Till

See also

Vocations: what is God's plan for you?

Monday, 24 June 2019 12:53

Meet our ordinands: Anthony Till

Anthony Till: ordained deacon on 30 June 2019

"I have a strong sense of needing to stand up for people and address social justice issues"

My Name is Anthony Till and I'm very much looking forward to my Ordination on the 30th June 2019.

I'm married to Sandra who is also an ordinand and we have three adult children and six grandchildren and Kazbah our 13 year old Border Collie.

I have always lived in Derby and my family have always had a connection with St Edmund's, Allenton & Shelton Lock. My Aunty Edna was a founding member of the Church even before they had the existing Church that was built in 1939.

I was Baptised there many years ago, 1961 to be exact. Sandra and I were later married there in 1986.

I left Shelton Lock Senior School in 1978 and went to work for Rolls-Royce in Derby, during this time Sandra had become a Mental Health Nurse. All our friends were nurses and I knew that I had to join them if I could not beat them and to be fair even at School I had felt a calling to the nursing profession.

To cut a long story short, I gave my job up at Rolls-Royce and trained as an Adult General Nurse. I have worked all my professional nursing career in Nottingham.

I have since given up my full time work in preparation for my work in the Church and I only work as a nurse for three days week now.

My calling to Ordained Ministry, has been one of knowing I needed to do something more to work with people on the fringes of society.

I have a strong sense of needing to stand up for people and address social justice issues.

Around 2008, Sandra's Mum came to live with us as she was suffering from dementia, sadly, she died in 2011. Sandra and I were not at that time attending any particular church, we both knew that her Mum would want her funeral at St Edmund's. We made the arrangement for the funeral but were informed that St Edmund's was at that time was in interregnum.

Within 30 minutes of that conversation, Sandra recieved a phone call informing her that they were the new Vicar of St Edmund's and surprisingly Sandra recognised the voice, It was someone who Sandra had worked with in Mental Health Services, who had been a Chaplain there. What a coincidence!

After the funeral I felt compelled to go back to St Edmunds as a regular worshipper. Eventually, I did The Journey in Faith Course and ever the self doubter, I felt that was was being called to Reader Ministry. I completed my training in 2014/5.

Still the pressure of feeling compelled to do more with those on the fringes of society kept growing, eventually I realised that God was calling me to Ordained Ministry.

I went through the process and eventually a BAP, I have a catch phrase that I now often use, It does not matter how many times you don't recognise or try ignore God's calling, if he has a plan for you he will always get you in the end no matter how long it takes. The rest is now history.

I have trained at The Queens Foundation in Birmingham and have found their Ecumenical training a wonderful experience.

Last year I had a 10 week placement at St Peter's in Derby City Centre, this has served to further strengthen my calling to work this those in difficult and stressful situations, living rough and out in the street's where I think God's work has the greatest impact.

This is why I believe that God has called me to serve my Curacy at St Thomas's, Pear Tree in the Walbrook Epiphany Benefice. I am apprehensive but feel God has given me the strength to meet this important and necessary challenge.


Favourite Bible passage:

Matthew 19:21, which says sell you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven.

Favourite hymn:

My favourite song is the Stuart Townsend version of The Lord's My Shepherd and my favourite hymn is A New Commandment.

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Those  ordained deacon by Bishop Libby at Derby Cathedral on 30 June 2019: Sally-Anne Beecham, Rhoda Blackwell, Brenda Jackson, Elaine Jones, Dawn Knight, James Millwain, Jenny Newman and Anthony Till

>> Meet Dawn Knight

>> Meet Sally-Anne Beecham

>> Meet Elaine Jones

See also

Call waiting: What is God's plan for you?

Thursday, 13 June 2019 11:58

Meet our ordinands: Dawn Knight

Dawn Knight: ordained deacon on 30 June 2019

"I am completely open to what and where God's mission takes me."

I’ve been married to Kevin for nearly 30 years, and am mum to 3 adult children, two here on earth, and one in God’s care.

I grew up in a working-class family in East London. My only involvement with Church was through “Church parades” when I was in the Brownies and Guides. At the age of 11, I was presented with a New Testament at school, decided to read it, and began to pray. At 18 I began my nursing career, qualified as a Registered Nurse and eventually specialised in Occupational Health. Having been an Occupational Health Manager for the last 10 years, I finally gave this up in mid-May.

Apart from getting married in Church, it wasn’t until we had our first child and wanted him baptised that I started attending Church.

I was confirmed in Lichfield diocese but really began to grow in faith when I became part of Emmanuel, Swadlincote, 23 years ago. I became a Sunday School leader and a flautist in the Music group. I eventually became a licensed Reader and was passionate about this ministry, which I did alongside secular work and bringing up a family. I never saw any reason to be ordained …….. and, in fact, was inexplicably irritated by Readers who went on to be ordained!

Tragically, my youngest son died in an accident abroad 6 years ago but during the anger and lamenting with God, amidst the trauma and grief, I was aware of God’s presence surrounding and carrying me. I saw Christ in others as I was supported and cared for by my priest, church, family and friends, and in the kindness and practical help of strangers. One morning, about 18 months after the accident, I awoke feeling “different” to usual and changed in some indescribable way. In the next few weeks I found the word “ordination” increasingly intruding into my life and any previous feelings of irritation had somehow gone- God clearly has a sense of humour! Eventually I thought I’d best vocalise what was happening and spoke to my priest in charge….. and so I embarked on a journey of exploration and discovery that has led to my ordination on 30th June.

I’m really excited to be moving to Derby and serving my curacy at Allestree St Nicholas and St Paul’s in Quarndon. I am completely open to what and where God’s mission takes me and know that whatever I think may be a good idea, God usually has something else planned - usually not something I imagined, but far better! I’m looking forward to living in a new place, working with new colleagues and making new friends, as well as keeping in touch with my old ones. I confess it is also a bit scary, having given up my nursing vocation and which has been one of the things that defined me for all my adult life.

Whenever I have spare time I enjoy Zumba, playing my flute and cross-stitch. I also love spending time with my husband and children and holidaying in Europe. I’m rather partial to exploring other churches and cathedrals and confess I do like shoes and have a number of quirky ones!

Dawn studied at The Queen's Foundation, Birmingham and will serve her curacy at Allestree St Nicholas and Quarndon.


Favourite Bible passage:

John 3:16-18 

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

This is because in the early days of my grieving I kept seeing this verse in various places and it comforts me and gives such hope. My late 16-year-old was also in the midst of reading a book by Max Lucado called 3:16- The Numbers of Hope.

Favourite hymn

“Because he lives” - it has such an uplifting tune and the chorus reflects our trust in God and his faithfulness to us.

“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives”

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Those ordained deacon by Bishop Libby at Derby Cathedral on 30 June 2019: Sally-Anne Beecham, Rhoda Blackwell, Brenda Jackson, Elaine Jones, Dawn Knight, James Millwain, Jenny Newman and Anthony Till

>> Meet Anthony Till

>> Meet Elaine Jones

>> Meet Sally-Anne Beecham

See also:

Call waiting: what is God's plan for you?

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