Learn to be a blessing to each other and to grow and nurture each other in our faith

Bex Allpress: to be ordained deacon in June 2021

My name is Bex and I will be serving as a curate across four parish churches within Swadlincote Minster:

  • Emmanuel Church, in the Parish of Swadlincote
  • Saint Peter’s Church, in the Parish of Hartshorne
  • Saint John’s Church, in the Parish of Newhall and…
  • Saint George and Saint Mary’s Church in the Parish of Church Gresley.

During my curacy placement, I will have plenty of opportunities to work with lots of people, from across all four parish churches, as part of a dynamic ministry team within the minster.

I am excited to be serving and learning within existing and new forms of ministry within the Swadlincote area, sharing my vocational journey alongside others who are realising their own.

Thankfully I am not an entire stranger to the minster having been on placement here over the last two years during my training for ordained ministry with Saint Mellitus College.

During my training I have had the chance to be involved with aspects of ministry across the Swadlincote area which has helped to form a platform on which to grow during my time here as a curate.

Prior to working in ministry, I worked for 15 years in the National Health Service across a variety of surgical specialities within the operating departments.

Despite sounding gruesome, it was a really engaging career where I gained plenty of experience across life matters.

Although I have some fond memories, I felt God was calling me to explore working further within full time ministry.

My journey in the Christian faith began when I was only three years old attending Sunday school on a regular basis at my local parish church in Derbyshire.

From the age of 14, I then began volunteering as a Sunday school teacher until at 18 years old I left to study at university in Wales.

It was in Wales that I met my husband and after eight years we moved back to Derbyshire.

Only after we moved back did I feel God was drawing me to be more involved once more within the church.

I began helping as a leader within our local church parent and toddler group and when I had to give this up due to changes at work, I first thought that my sense of calling was a call to return back to continue serving this group.

Despite a lengthy discernment process, I realised that God has His timings in hand because the year I was ready to begin formal ordination training was the same year that the new St. Mellitus College opened in Nottingham.

I was super excited to begin my training there and have the privilege of being the first ordinand from Derby to train with them.

My journey is probably one best described as being quite ordinary but filled with extra-ordinary moments.

As for me, I have just this year decided to have a go at growing my own vegetables.

It’s something that I’ve never done before so everything is a learning journey to see what takes well and what doesn’t.

I recently harvested my first crop of potatoes and, although they were smaller than expected, they still tasted delicious!

Favourite Bible Message: When it comes to having favourite bible messages, the importance for me is that the messages speak something significant into the way we live our lives. There are three Bible messages that I incorporate daily into my life. The first of these is taken from Matthew 22:37-40. In this message, Jesus shares with us the two most important rules for living well; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself”. Two very simple rules for living a healthy and active faith, love God and love those around you. From these two simple rules flows God’s transformative power into our lives and into the world. As we start to see positive transformations, we become more attuned to the various gifts and talents that God blesses us all with. We must recognise how these gifts are to be used to help each other in our discipleship journey’s and how we must support and encourage each other, through the good times and in the pain of life. The Apostle Paul reflects on this in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 and 12:14 “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone…Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many” and in Romans 12:15-16 when he says that as a community of disciples we must “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep (and) live in harmony with one another”.

In summary; To learn to be a blessing to each other and to grow and nurture each other in our faith, requires loving God, loving each other, recognising what each of us has to contribute to one another and finding strength in a community who endeavour together through each season in life. That’s my take-home message for effective everyday living in Christian faith which I draw upon daily for inspiration.

Last modified on Friday, 18 June 2021 13:29

God put it on our hearts to explore Derby

Jeff Golding: to be ordained deacon in 2021

My name is Jeff Golding, I am married to Kim, and we have two children, Phoebe (3) and Jesse(1).

I grew up in South East London but have spent the last three years in Cambridge, studying at Ridley Hall.

My family was non-religious when I was growing up (although most have come to faith now).

I came to faith when I was 18 years old.

My faith journey started when I was ten when I was diagnosed with cancer.

Although I had no idea who God was, it was the beginning of thinking about whether there was more to life.

However, after several years of being in remission, at 18, I had a second cancer scare.

Fortunately, it was not cancer this time, but I nonetheless found Jesus in this experience.

At my baptism, someone prophesied that I would one day be “wearing a dog collar!”

I placed these words on the back burner and decided to study computer animation at university.

After completing my studies, I went on to do many jobs, including youth work for my local council and my church.

However, training for ordained ministry never disappeared.

When I was in my late twenties, while I was a pen salesman (I sold really posh fountain pens!), God brought this calling to the forefront.

After getting through my BAP, my wife and I packed up and moved to Cambridge with a two-month old baby.

Although we always intended to return to our sending diocese, God put it on our hearts to explore Derby.

After several months of praying and listening, we knew this was where God was calling us.

We are so excited to be moving to Derby and being part of what God is doing in the East Midlands, seeing the Kingdom grow, and seeing people’s lives transformed by God.

Looking after two little children have meant some of my hobbies have taken a back seat.

However, I still really enjoy cooking a delicious curry for new and old friends, cosying up on the sofa with a good boxset, and chilling in coffee shops talking about life with friends.

Favourite Bible verse - Matthew 14:22-31, where Jesus calls Peter to walk to Him on the water. It reminds me of Jesus’ call for all of us to a life of water-walking. However, stepping out ofthe boat is often scary, but we must “take courage!” and trust that Jesus is always there,whatever we might face.

Favourite song: “Oceans” by Hillsong, because it encapsulates my call to ordination.

Last modified on Friday, 18 June 2021 13:07

I am passionate about the opportunities that can be created to allow children and young people to explore their faith

Sam Dennis - ordained deacon in June 2021

I have been training with the All Saints’ Centre for the last three years in preparation for ordination as deacon. 

My study has been part-time; some in Derby during the evenings and residential weekends in Crewe. 

I have been studying alongside working full-time. 

My day job is working for the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham as their deputy director of education. 

I have worked in Church of England schools throughout my teaching career and am passionate about the opportunities that can be created to allow children and young people to explore their faith and ask those ‘big questions.’

I worship at All Saints’ Parish Church in Sawley and have done so since I attended the Sunday School as a young child.   

I have been very involved with children’s work in the church over the years and am looking forward to continuing to develop the skills I have learnt during my training in other areas of parish ministry during my curacy.  

I will serve my curacy at All Saints’ as a self-supporting minister and also continue working. 

I am married to Phil, who is a butcher, and I have two daughters and a step-daughter. 

All the girls are grown up now and our eldest had a baby last year; we are really enjoying being grandparents. 

We have two rescue dogs, who have been living their best life during lockdown as I have been working from home since the middle of March 2020.   

It goes both ways though and I have also been very grateful of their company over the last year or so.  

Having been a half-hearted knitter since my children were little, I have recently learnt to crochet and am really enjoying making some baby clothes for my granddaughter – it is surprisingly easy. 

We also enjoy taking our dogs out, walking along the River Trent which is on our doorstep.

Favourite bible passage I don’t have a passage that has stood the test of time as ‘always a favourite.’  Passages seem to speak to me more at sometimes than others, but Philippians 4:13 is one I often return to ‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me’

Favourite hymn It is hard to choose …  ‘Thorns in the Straw’ by Graham Kendrick …

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 July 2021 16:30

My vision of ordained ministry is to walk alongside others in such a way that our relationship with Jesus is deepened, and that those who don’t know him encounter him. 

Charlotte Wallington - ordained deacon in June 2021

I’m excited to be ordained in June and beginning my curacy in the benefice of Hathersage, Bamford and Grindleford.

I grew up in Greater London, in a Christian home and attended a large local church. I came to faith at the age of nine.

Because I became a Christian when I was such a young child, my faith is so integral to me that I cannot imagine who I would be as a person without it.

As for everyone, my life has had its ups and downs but in all these things I have known God’s presence with me.

I finally made the decision to offer myself for ordination after a deep sense of challenge, followed by prayer and reflection on Moses’ encounter with God in Exodus 3.

I had known from the age of about twenty that I was being called to ordination, so the challenge of Exodus 3 was the culmination of a long journey for me to get to this point of being faithful to that calling.

I am so glad that now I have.

For the last two years I’ve been hugely privileged to study at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford and hope to take the lessons I’ve learned there, and the ones I will learn in my curacy, as I grow in ministry.

On a personal note, I particularly love to spend time with my family, I have four nieces and two nephews.

Other personal interests include reading, meeting up and chatting with friends, and walking.  

Worship is a very important part of my life; it is not really possible to pin down one favourite song as I have lots of favourites - so in honesty the list would be way too long! But one of my favourite hymns is ‘Tell Out My Soul The Greatness Of The Lord’, and two of my favourite worship songs are ‘Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me’ and ‘In The Darkness We Were Waiting’ (King of Kings).

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 July 2021 16:31

My name is Mel Hartley and I have just completed two years with St Hild College, studying for an MA in Theology, Ministry and Mission.

I shall be ordained in June 2021 and serve my curacy in the north of the diocese, in the parishes of Eyam, Baslow and Foolow.

I came to faith as child, when at the age of 7, I used to question the caretaker of a local Wesleyan chapel as he arrived.

I asked him so many questions he started a Sunday School, which was the start of my faith journey.

I attended church through my years as a child and then a youth, occasionally with my mum and brother, but after a couple of earlier years, I attended alone.

My faith grew and I became increasingly frustrated with how to communicate my wonderful experiences with church, into words and practices that my family would relate to or have an interest in – I guess this sparked my passion for mission and reaching those beyond the fringes of our churches.

I have been in education for the last twenty years – starting as a lecturer of music, then moving to classroom teaching and also supporting further education students with specific learning disabilities.

Along side my career in education I continued to lead in churches: being a local preacher in the Methodist Church and leading various groups, projects and times of worship.

I completed an MA in Mission in 2011 alongside my teaching – to enable my ministry further.

I candidated successfully for Methodist Ministry and started my training at Queens College… but there was something that didn’t quite fit.

It was training alongside ordinand colleagues in an ecumenical environment that allowed me to explore my personal call further.

After much searching, I asked the Methodist Church to release me from training and found my home in the local Anglican church – where my husband was already leading Messy Church – we were already rooted amongst our Anglican friends.

Several years later, I became a candidate for ordained ministry in the Anglican Church and was overwhelmingly affirmed.

My prayer is that I enable others through my own call, and that I can demonstrate His love in areas of our communities where the church doesn’t always reach.

As a trauma survivor, I spent many years feeling unworthy.

The verse from Jeremiah 2:13, talking of broken cisterns that hold no water, reminds me that we all have the ability to hold streams of living water when we learn to fully embrace his grace. My favourite Bible verse is Galatians 2:21, ‘I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.’ My favourite hymn is Amazing Grace.

The countryside is my sanctuary and I love walks. I’m a creative person and as such I cover my desk with pictures, journaling, diagrams, art, sewing and music… and I love making lists to make everything ordered! I am married to Matt, and we have four amazing daughters: Elizabeth (16), Evelyn (13), Niamh (11), Miriam (9)… and an Irish Red Setter called Milo!

My favourite Bible verse is Galatians 2:21: ‘I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.’

My favourite hymn is Amazing Grace.

Last modified on Friday, 18 June 2021 12:47

It was during my time in the choir that I first felt God’s calling on my life

Ellie Launders-Brown: ordained deacon in 2021

I am Ellie Launders-Brown, I am training for ordination at St Mellitus College South West Centre based in Plymouth and currently living and ministering in the diocese of Bath & Wells.

Before training I was an aircraft engineer, spending 14 years in the Royal Navy and a further 12 years as a civilian contractor.

I will be serving my curacy in the East Scarsdale benefice consisting of the parishes of Shirebrook, Pleasley, Upper Langwith and Whaley Thorns.

I grew up in a village called Whitburn, on the North East Coast just to the north of Sunderland.

I was baptised in the Methodist church, but I desperately wanted to sing.

After being told by my junior school music teacher I had the most untrainable voice he’d ever heard, I went to join the local parish church choir.

It was during my time in the choir that I first felt God’s calling on my life, but at that point, women couldn’t be ordained into the priesthood, and I had neither the maturity or the experience to know how to respond to that calling.

I have been with my partner Jo for 25 years and in a civil partnership 15 years. She was born in Derbyshire and is delighted to be returning home. We have two labradors Toby and Gypsy.

Reconciling faith and sexuality was a difficult time and being banished from the church simply because of who I am hurt me and cut deeply.

I felt disguarded and abandonded, but God never gave up on me and still kept calling me into ordained ministry.

When I finally answered this calling with a “yes”, I suddenly felt free, protected, needed and loved and I knew where my life was going and that God had a plan for my life.

Inclusion is important to me and it’s what drives me forward in my ministry.

I firmly believe that we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” (psalm 139:14), and I look to seek out and welcome all who have been or feel excluded from hearing God’s message and make the church an inclusive and safe place for everyone.

I have a passion for choral music, nature and God’s creation and following the highs and mainly lows of Sunderland Football Club.


Favourite Bible passage: Isaiah 43:1 “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”

Favourite hymn: And can it be – Charles Wesley, when I answered God’s call, the release and clarity that I felt resonated with the words of the chorus:-

My chains fell off,

my heart was free,

I rose, went forth and followed thee.

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 July 2021 16:31

I gave my life to Christ after my 12th birthday

Julius Anozie: ordained deacon in 2021

My name is Onyekachi Julius Anozie.

I was born and raised in Nigeria. I studied law at the University of Nigeria and graduated in 2012 and was called to the Nigeria Bar in 2013.

I have a Master’s degree in International Human Rights and Humanitarian law from Germany (2017).  I most recently completed a BA in Theology, Ministry and Mission at Cranmer Hall Durham.

Prior to ordination training, I was a Pastoral Assistant at the Trinity Anglican Church, Lyon.

I have been an Anglican all my life. I gave my life to Christ after my 12th birthday and since then my love for God has grown so much. I confirmed my call to ordination when I was 18 years old.

Believing that I was meant to serve in Nigeria, I was preparing to go back after my studies in Germany, but God had other plans for me. I then began my discernment process in Germany, which was not expected at all, but God moves in mysterious ways!

Growing up, I was a member of the Boys’ Brigade, an organisation I am still part of till date.

I also participated in various religious organisations like the Scripture Union, Anglican Students’ Fellowship and most currently was part of St Johns College Christian Union Durham.

I am very passionate about the youth and young adults’ ministries. I love choral music and also hymns, Anglican chants, and Iam a Handel's Messiah enthusiast.

I love singing, dancing, and acting.

My favourite canticle: the Magnificat and the Tedeum Laudamus 

My favourite books of the bible: Psalms and Ecclesiastes.

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 July 2021 16:32

Having received the gift of faith myself I am keen to find ways to reach out to others

Becky Reeve: ordained deacon in 2021

I am looking forward to being ordained in June and starting my curacy at St Augustine’s, Derby.

It has been a long path to this point - I came to faith on Christmas Eve 2002, having grown up in a non-religious family, and received my sense of call to ministry at the same time as my call to faith.

I didn’t really understand how churches worked though, so I thought I could just fill in a job application form to be a priest like for any other job… little did I know.

I started attending a free church in 2003, but after a couple of years felt drawn to Anglicanism, and I knew as soon as I started attending an Anglican church that I had found my home. 

My discernment has been long and varied, and has involved living in a number of communities while considering the religious life as well as 4 moves of area and 4 interregnums, all of which helped to slow things down.

Eventually though I was recommended for training and have been lucky to spend the last two years in full-time training at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield, living alongside a community of monks.

I grew up in Sutton Coldfield, on the edge of Birmingham, but went to university in London, and then stayed there for the next 19 years.

When I met my husband, Patrick, I moved down to the South Coast, where I have been for the last 10 years. Patrick has continued to live and work down there while I have been studying in Yorkshire, so we have both got to know the M1 pretty well. 

Before becoming an ordinand I worked as a primary school teacher, 6th form college lecturer in English and Classical Civilisation, tutor for marginalised young people and school SENCO.

I have also spent time living in communities supporting young adults with learning difficulties and working with street homeless people.

Walking pilgrimages are a passion for me: I walked the St Martins in the Fields pilgrimage from London to Canterbury every year from 2008 until Covid struck, and Patrick and I organise regular reunion walks for this pilgrimage.

In fact, Patrick and I actually met on a walking pilgrimage to St David’s in Wales.

We are also part of other pilgrimage groups and we completed the Camino de Santiago just before I started training which was a fantastic experience.

My faith isn’t easy to label, and draws on a number of aspects of Christian traditions, from both ‘wings’ of the Church of England as well as from Orthodox Christianity and the Emerging Church. I am more interested in the fruits of peoples’ faith than the part of the Church they identify with, and find that for my faith life to be most alive I need to keep both prayer and working towards the Kingdom in relationship.  

Having received the gift of faith myself I am keen to find ways to reach out to others.

When I was interviewed about being a curate in Derby diocese I had to admit that I didn’t have a connection to Derby, although I am a Midlander.

It was only after I had agreed my curacy at St Augustine that I found out from my Father that my great grandfather had not only been born in Derby, but in the same parish that I will be based in!

His father was an itinerant stonemason who worked on churches, and who moved into the parish just as the church was being built, so it is highly possible that my great-great grandfather helped to build the church where I will be a curate!

Favourite Bible Passages: Mark 10: 46-52/ Isaiah 61:1-3

Favourite Hymn: I heard the voice of Jesus say

Favourite motto: Do what you can, with what you have, where you are

Favourite religious leader: Desmond Tutu

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 July 2021 16:32

Being an ordinand during Covid-time has probably been the best and worst time

Rachel Burdett: ordained deacon in 2021

My name is Rachel Burdett. I’ve just completed two years of study at the College of the Resurrection in Mirfield, and I’m excited to be joining Belper Christ Church with Turnditch as the assistant curate.

My sending parish is Eckington with Ridgeway, in North East Derbyshire. I grew up in Ridgeway.

My parents were both primary school teachers and I have a younger brother, David, who lives in York with his wife Karen and their dog Archie.

I went to university in Leeds and studied Modern Chinese Studies (with a bit of Japanese thrown in).

After graduation I went back to China (having spent a year there as a student) and taught at a university there for a short while, and after that decided to take a job in Japan.

After two years there I came back to the UK, but missed Japan so much I got another job there and then spent the next 25 years teaching in Japanese secondary schools.

For most of that time I was at a private Anglican school called St. Hilda’s, in Tokyo.

There was only one English-speaking Anglican congregation in Tokyo, St. Alban’s, and I was a member there for many years.

In 2013 I became a Companion of Julian of Norwich (https://julianofnorwich.org/pages/friends-of-julian-the-companions-of-julian).

Julian’s writing has been important to me ever since I received a small book called Enfolded In Love when I was confirmed.

When we are able to travel again I am looking forward to being able to revisit Julian’s cell in Norwich.

I am particularly interested in English mysticism, and the different ways we pray, both in church and privately.

I had expected to be a teacher for the rest of my working life but about five years ago I discerned a call to ordained ministry, and started to explore that through Derby diocese.

I moved back to the UK in March 2019 and began college six months later.

Being an ordinand during Covid-time has probably been the best and worst time.

There have been fewer placements and worship has been disrupted in many ways, but it has all given me a lot to think about.

In my time off I do a lot of walking and taking photos.

I love Derbyshire and it is rather mystifying, now I’ve come home, to imagine how I lived on the other side of the world for so long.

At home I enjoy cooking and during lockdown, like apparently many other people, I learned how to make my own marmalade.

In the last two years my reading has been largely taken up with what I have needed to do for college but I do like to curl up with a good book and a pot of tea.

Favourite hymn: Alleluia, sing to Jesus, especially the lines, ‘Intercessor, Friend of sinners, earth’s Redeemer, plead for me.’ 

Favourite Bible passage: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: 'Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’ (I’ve included it on my ember card and sums up how I’m feeling about being ordained.)

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 July 2021 16:32

I felt God speak to me through song

John Ferguson: ordained deacon in 2021

My name is John, and I live in Overseal, a village at the very south of the Diocese near Swadlincote. I’m looking forward to being ordained to work in the parish of St. Barnabas’, Derby, as a Self-Supporting Minister (SSM). As a SSM I will continue to work full time as an IT Manager for a well-known discount retailer.

I grew up in a small village near Blackburn, Lancashire and started attending church at a young age with my sister. We were drawn in by the vibrant Sunday School and by the time I moved away from home to attend University, I was a leader in the Sunday School and a member of both the music group and PCC.

I moved to Derby in 2005 to study Computer Networks at Derby University. On leaving my previous Church, our curate put me in touch with St. Peter’s and this has been my home for nearly 16 years.

During my time at St. Peter’s, I have held various roles: a Youth Leader, a Home Group Leader, a member of the PCC and a member of various working groups. I have also been involved in several outreach activities such as Recharge (church in a pub) and Alpha Café (a social event around the Alpha course). But my primary role was as a Worship Leader. It is from this that my journey to ordination started.

As a child I learnt to play the Piano and was a member of the school choir. I still enjoy playing the piano and singing today.

It was during my time at St. Peter’s that I developed my ministry as a Worship Leader. Part of this development involved attending the Mission Worship Conference in Eastbourne every couple of years. In November 2017, while at this conference, I felt God speak to me through song. I came away with a deep desire to grow deeper in my faith through study, but resisted the call to ordination.

In September 2018 I started a part-time course at The Queen’s Foundation in Birmingham. It wasn’t long before my cohort were encouraging me to consider ordination and a few weeks later God spoke to me again. This time it was through a vision (but it still involved a song) and the rest, as they say, is history. I was fortunate to be able to remain at Queen’s to complete my training.

In my spare time, other than music, I enjoy Scuba Diving. This has taken me to some wonderful places, and I especially enjoy diving in the Red Sea. Recently, my experiences diving have led me to make small changes to minimise my impact on the environment.

I’m still working out what ordained ministry will look like for me, I’m sure it will involve music in some way. But I also feel the fact I will be staying in secular employment could be key, helping to bridge the gap between secular and sacred.

Favourite Hymn – There’s too many to choose from, but Stuart Townend’s In Christ Alone has always had a special place in my heart “for I am his, and he is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ”

Favourite Bible Verse – John 1:1-5 (if it needs to be 1 verse, then John 1:1) “In the beginning was the Word”

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 July 2021 16:29

Catrin Hubbard: to be ordained deacon in September 2020

I have the sense of my future ministry involving shepherding God’s rainbow sheep

My name is Catrin Hubbard and I’ve been licensed as a Lay Worker (pending ordination, God, the Bishop and Covid willing) to the Parish of Buxton with Burbage and King Sterndale.

I grew up in Liverpool and Ynys Môn, I’m baptised Church in Wales and confirmed Church of England, it’s an interesting mix of world views to have grown up with.

I went to Sunday school and confirmation classes as I grew up, both of which nurtured and deepened my faith but after confirmation I found grown up church boring so drifted away over the years.

I came back to faith in my early twenties after finishing university.

My degree was in Counselling and Therapeutic Studies so of course I ended up as a youth worker, both for the local authority and for my local church.

Not long after I came to faith, people started talking to me about ordination (specifically my mentor, a beautiful man called Geoff, and my great aunt).

I found the idea of God calling someone like me to such a position laughable and told them so.

After a few years as a youth worker, I felt that my theological learning was lacking so I joined the Light Project in Chester studying part time for a Foundation Degree in Community Evangelism and working part time as a Youth and Children’s Worker for a lovely local parish.

I stayed on at the church part time after completing my studies and worked as a schools worker part time too.

More recently I spent six years in Sutton, Surrey, working as a secondary schools worker for a small Christian charity, leading assemblies, lessons, lunch clubs and the like.

Over the years my mentor had kept up his pestering about ordination and other people joined in too.

I finally gave in, asking God if ordination was the plan for me, I cried through fear and relief (as if I’d been carrying a weight that I could now put down) when the answer came back “Yes”.

I trained at Cranmer Hall in Durham and loved it there. The people are amazing, so humble, honest and funny, accepting and supporting me through the bumpy road of learning to accept myself as God created me to be, often rupturing what I thought I knew, as well as learning about things I didn’t know had names let alone what those names where (who knew the swinging incense thingy was called a thurible!) 

I have the sense of my future ministry involving shepherding God’s rainbow sheep, people on the margins and people who have previously been hurt by the church, showing them God’s love, inclusion and belonging. I have no idea what that will look like but I know God does, so that’s ok for now.

Favourite Bible passages: Psalm 73:23 and Micah 6:8 “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (NRSV)

Favourite hymn: “Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer” (I am Welsh!) and my favourite worship song is “Reckless Love” which talks about the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.

Last modified on Tuesday, 25 May 2021 13:29

Nicola McNally: ordained deacon in 2020

My vision of ordained ministry is very people orientated

I am Nicola McNally.  Donal and I have been married for 27 years, and we are blessed with two children (now 19 and 23 years old).  

For the past 30 years I have been a University Lecturer / Associate Professor in Engineering Materials.  

I have been working half-time since the birth of our son, so this enabled me in the last three years to study part-time at Ripon College Cuddesdon alongside my job at the university of Nottingham.  

Now I look forward to a new chapter of life as full-time Curate in Tideswell Parish.

Throughout my life, and various ups and downs, I have a strong sense that God always provides, although not of course always in the way one imagined he would! 

I was fortunate to have been brought to faith as a child by my Christian mother, so I can’t actually remember ever not believing in God. However, one’s faith deepens and grows. 

Leading an ecumenical group ‘CEPlus’ as an undergraduate at Bath University expanded my understanding of Christian community and taught me about articulating my faith. 

Introduction to the Taizé community in France, including a week in silence whilst doing my PhD at Oxford, gave me a love of meditative prayer. 

My husband and children have taught me a lot about the power of love. 

I have always worshipped at the Church of England church parish in the community in which I live, and being a member of Parochial Church Councils in Dorset, Oxford, Bristol and Nottinghamshire has taught me a lot about the ups and down of church life! 

However, I didn’t seriously recognise a call to ministry until about five years ago when acting as the lay lead in PMC (Partnership for Missional Change) in my home parish. 

I realised that my day job, important to me though it was, was beginning to feel like something that got in the way of what I really wanted to do.  

My vision of ordained ministry is very people orientated.

I feel my major task is to let everyone know that they are loved and valued by a wonderful triune God.

 A relationship with Jesus should be a growing dynamic thing for every believer and I hope to be a small channel through which the Holy Spirit can help people come to faith and grow in that faith. 

Although I have not been in Derbyshire very long, I already feel a great love for the people and countryside. 

I look forward to getting to know the people and churches of my parish and discerning what my vision for the future there should be. 

This Covid year has certainly thrown us all challenges but, as Julian of Norwich so aptly puts it, God did not say “You will not be tempest-tossed”, but “You will never be overcome.”

I love being outdoors. Cycling is one hobby - my husband and I have a special tandem which is a recumbent at the front and sit up at the back. That way we can both see where we are going, and chat to one another easily! 

My other main hobby (if I get time) is sailing. I hope to join the club at Carsington. 

I also enjoy walking and one of the blessings of my new parish is walking between the five churches through the countryside. 

Inside, I have recently rediscovered a love of sewing whilst making face masks for the family and friends.

I have played the violin all my life and there is nothing quite like the single-minded concentration of playing a piece of music, particularly in an orchestra for pushing cares or worries out of mind.   

Favourite Bible passage: Psalm 139 9,10 - If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me.

Favourite hymn: The Servant Song" is one of my favourite hymns and pretty much sums up how I feel about my calling, and has also meant a lot to me when I have been caring for relatives suffering from the cruel disease of dementia.

Last modified on Tuesday, 25 May 2021 13:30

Sandra Till: ordained deacon in 2020

I have never seen him since, but my life changed from that moment.

Being an ordained minister was not part of my bucket list but when looking back at my life, a very emotional part of my discernment, I remembered telling the career advisor that I wanted to be a vicar.

I still have no idea why, seeing as the first ordination of women was a long time after I left school.

I “chose” nursing as my career and started work as a cadet nurse at the Derby County Asylum (Kingsway Hospital).

I knew I wanted to care for those who did not seem to be attractive to others in my group at pre-nursing school.

That desire has never left me and, I believe, ministering to those on the fringes of society is a big part of my calling.

I went on to specialise in caring for those with dementia needing enhanced care.  

I never hid my faith and always felt that I had been sent to that role and that God was with me.

I discovered how much God was with me, when during one very heavy shift a staff nurse said to me: "It’s alright for you, you believe in God, I don’t."

My reply was: "It’s a good job that he believes in you." Those word were spoken through me, not by me.

When I became a Cub leader and attended church parades, I not only met other Christians who helped me develop a deeper understanding, I also met my husband Anthony.

We have been married for 34 years now, have three children and been blessed with seven grandchildren.

Anthony is also an ordained minister. I get very frustrated when people ask if that’s why I am going to be one; I try to explain that I have spent time trying to avoid God’s calling, despite many signs.  

I finally knew, just like Jonah, I could hide no longer when, working as a hospital chaplain visitor, a gentleman came into the chapel and we sat and prayed together.

From nowhere he said: "Some see it as fear and anxiety, and some see it as exciting."

I had never seen him before and have never seen him since, but my life changed from that moment.

Favourite Bible passage: Psalm 46:10. "Be still, and know that I am God." When I’m chasing round and getting nowhere its nice just to breathe and say: "Be still and remember that God is with me."

Favourite hymn: Here I am Lord. My grandson used to come to church with me and completely surprised the family when he said he wanted to be baptised. He was only five and he chose this hymn for the service. That made it very special, and as I questioned my calling, “Is it I, Lord?” has been asked so many times.

Last modified on Tuesday, 25 May 2021 13:30

Sharon Murphy: ordained deacon in 2020

I have never lost the passion to communicate the gospel in language that is easily understood

My name is Sharon Murphy, I am married to John and we have eight children, two aged 15 and 13 who are still at home.

We also have a daft cocker spaniel called Jasper and a cat nicknamed The Scruffy Misery.

We recently moved to Chaddesden, Derby to take up a curacy with Derwent Oak BMO.

I became a Christian in my early 20s having suffered a miscarriage.

It was my first encounter with grief, and it was such a time of pain both physically and emotionally.

I went to bed one night and God appeared to me in a dream with my baby in his arms and when I woke up the next morning all the pain had gone, and I felt peaceful.

I then started to go to church, having already met the minister and his wife through a toddler group.

Over the next few years my husband, several of our children and a close friend became Christians.

It was during the next eight years that a call to mission really grew within us and in 2000 we moved to Manchester to become part of a group of urban missionaries (EDEN); I became the team leader for EDEN Hattersley. 

My time with EDEN showed me the importance of the church working at ground level with the community; a way of engaging with people while living out kingdom values and ‘gossiping the gospel’ to everyone.

In 2007, we moved to Poole in Dorset and joined Reconnect, a missional community It was at this point that I started to feel that God might be calling me into ordained ministry and I started to explore what that would look like.

I trained at St.Hilds College on a two-year full time pathway.

Formation came in many guises and I learnt a lot from the breath of church tradition that I encountered.

One highlight of my training was Easter school in Durham during Holy Week 2018.

The sunrise service, which started in darkness and ended in loud celebration and worship, spoke to me profoundly about the words ‘He is risen!’.

I have never lost the passion to communicate the gospel in language that is easily understood, my MA dissertation reflects this. 

I wrote a myth to try to help people with little or no understanding about the story of God try to explore what is happening during the Eucharist.


When I am out walking in the countryside especially in the  Peak District I find myself feeling very close to God and this is where he will often speak to me. I also enjoy cooking, reading, listening to classical music, drinking good coffee and chocolate. I am a bit of a contemplative and words are very important to me, the words simplicity, hospitality and pilgrim have played a significant meaning for me. My rule of life is based on Micah 6:8 And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

As I start my curacy with Rev.Beth Honey in Derwent Oak BMO, Derby I find myself thinking about dwelling in a place, being, prayer walking, listening and building relationship.

My prayer is that people will see something of Christ in me the hope of glory and will want that hope for themselves.

Favourite Bible passage: from Isaiah 61, as paraphrased in The Message Bible. It speaks of healing, hope, joy and peace through Christ who brings restoration and new life.

To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
    give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
    a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.
Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness”
    planted by God to display his glory.
They’ll rebuild the old ruins,
    raise a new city out of the wreckage.

Some of this verse is part of the design for my ordination stole.

Favourite hymn: Be Still My Soul. I particularly like the version sung by Kari Jobe.

Last modified on Tuesday, 25 May 2021 13:32

Rachael Brooks: ordained deacon in 2020

Do I need to wear a collar in order to be the bridge God is calling me to be?

My name is Rachael Brooks and I live in Derby with my husband, Andrew, and our son, Isaac.

I encountered God and gave my life to him at the age of 14.

Soon after, I experienced a sense of calling, although I didn’t recognise it as such until much later.

I met my husband, Andrew, at Nottingham University.

We both got jobs in Derby, me as a teacher at a junior school in Chaddesden and Andrew as a doctor on the Derby hospitals’ GP training scheme, so moved here when we married, in 1991.

We quickly found ourselves at the church which has been our home ever since - St Alkmund’s, Derby.

This is the place where my faith has deepened and matured, where I’ve found and given prayerful companionship through the ups and downs of life.

It has provided many roles in which I could serve and develop the gifts God had given me.

A few people over the years suggested I consider ordination but I always dismissed the idea that God was calling me to that.

I didn’t see myself leading a church.

In 2013, I was strongly advised by someone I looked up to to ‘have a go’ at Chaplaincy and, if I liked it, to explore ordination.

I started a voluntary role with Derby City Centre Chaplaincy in 2014, serving at a vocational training college for a few years and then at the council building.

This chaplaincy role seemed to fulfil what prayer had begun to reveal was my calling: to be a bridge - between God and the community.

A friend had a picture of me as a sparrow around this time.

The particular quality she felt God was drawing attention to was that sparrows alight gently, unobtrusively.

She was a bit apologetic, sparrows aren’t the most beautiful or rare of birds.

But I began to see that this also fitted with being a bridge: finding the people he wants to me to alight gently beside and to show his love.

The issue for me in considering ordination was ‘do I need to wear a collar in order to be the bridge God is calling me to be?’.

As I prayed and reflected I remembered those moments during chaplaincy in which I found myself thinking how I’d love to be the one to baptise the people I was walking alongside. Diocesan and national selection panels eventually ensued and I began training in 2017.

During my training at St Hild Theological College, God has stretched and challenged me further.

He’s done this through the rich community life among the students and staff and through precious times of worship: at the Sheffield site, at Mirfield and at Durham cathedral.

And through my church placement.

My calling was confirmed beyond question for me at the funeral of Rev’d Ian Mountford, in January, when in her address, Bishop Jan told us something I didn’t know - that the word ‘priest’ means ‘bridge’.

I’m so pleased to be undertaking the curacy phase of my formation adventure at St Peter’s, Littleover - the parish we happen to have lived in for most of the 29 years we’ve been in Derby - and St Andrew’s, Blagreaves.

Starting during lockdown is rather disconcerting, but it’s an opportunity to learn new skills and work creatively with God and the Church to bring the peace, love and freedom of God into a unique situation.

Last modified on Tuesday, 25 May 2021 13:31

Alan Winfield: ordained deacon in 2020

I was licensed (as a reader) in 2002 - but still had feelings that there was something more

Hi, I’m Alan Winfield, I am 62 years old and I was born in Derby and lived in what was a small village on its outskirts.

At the age of 16, I met God for the first time during an Easter Sunrise Service in the village and, as the sun rose above the mill rooftops, I had this strange and wonderful feeling inside and it was there and then that I knew.

Church took a bit of a back seat after that and it wasn’t until I met and married Sue that we started attending the local church; incidentally we will be celebrating our Ruby Wedding anniversary at the end of August – how has she put up with me for so long?

Our two sons, David and Ian, came along and our family was complete.

We moved to Devon with my job as a Funeral Director and spent four years living in Torbay before returning to Derby.

Shortly after our return my father in law passed away suddenly; the Sunday after the funeral we attended the local church and during the sermon a sentence struck me like an arrow and from there on I knew God had plans for me but just what, I didn’t know.

I joined the serving team and went on the rota of readers and intercessors butI felt though that there was something more.

If at first...

I enquired about becoming a licensed reader and our priest commented on the fact that, thankfully, I had realised I was being called as it had taken me long enough to realise.

I was licensed in 2002 but still had feelings that there was something more.

In 2004, I tried for ordination and was turned down and thought that was the end of it but, as the saying goes, God works in mysterious ways and three years ago Sue suggested I try again.

This time it was to be and I am delighted to be serving in the Melbourne benefice.

In our spare time Sue and I enjoy taking our Clumber Spaniel for walks in the countryside.

I also enjoy following the work of our emergency services and have the privilege of being the chaplain to Derby Mountain Rescue Team.

During my working life and reader ministry, I have had a deep interest in pastoral care and I hope my curacy will enable me to develop this further and reach out to those in need and reveal something of the love of God.

Favourite bible passage: 1 Samuel 3 1-10 - The call of the boy Samuel.

Favourite hymn: I the Lord of sea and sky.

Last modified on Tuesday, 25 May 2021 13:31
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Ordinands 2021: also meet...

Meet our ordinands: Bex Allpress

Meet our ordinands: Bex Allpress

Bex used to work in the NHS and will start her curacy in Swadlincote Minster. See More
Meet our ordinands: Jeff Golding

Meet our ordinands: Jeff Golding

Jeff is a former pen salesman (yes, really!) and will start his curacy at St Werburgh's Derby. See More
Meet our ordinands: Sam Dennis

Meet our ordinands: Sam Dennis

Sam, who works in education, will start her curacy at All Saints’ Parish Church in Sawley. See More
Meet our ordinands: Charlotte Wallington

Meet our ordinands: Charlotte Wallington

Charlotte, who came to faith at the age of nine, will start her curacy in Hathersage, Bamford and Grindleford. See More
Meet our ordinands: Mel Hartley

Meet our ordinands: Mel Hartley

Mel, a former music lecturer, will serve her curacy in Eyam, Baslow and Foolow. See More
Meet our ordinands: Ellie Launders-Brown

Meet our ordinands: Ellie Launders-Brown

Ellie, a former aircraft engineer, will begin her curacy in Shirebrook and Pleasley. See More
Meet our ordinands: Julius Anozie

Meet our ordinands: Julius Anozie

Julius, who has studied law and theology, will start his curacy at St Mary’s, Ilkeston. See More
Meet our ordinands: Becky Reeve

Meet our ordinands: Becky Reeve

Becky, a former teacher, will start her curacy at St Augustine’s, Derby See More
Meet our ordinands: Rachel Burdett

Meet our ordinands: Rachel Burdett

Rachel, a former teacher in Japan, will serve her curacy at Christ Church, Belper. See More
Meet our ordinands: John Ferguson

Meet our ordinands: John Ferguson

John, a full-time IT manager, will be an SSM at St. Barnabas, Derby See More
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