It was a special moment, to be ordained not only in the Diocese of Derby, but at St Giles’, a matter of chairs away from where I first remember accepting Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. And what a great joy and comfort to know the love, prayerful support and encouragement from family and friends as I made those wonderful and weighty ordination declarations.
So special – yes! Expected – certainly not!
Whilst my heart was planning to extend my formal theological training by a year, the Lord providentially directed my steps back to Derby.
The joy and excitement of ordination, however, was quickly met with sorrow and grief.
A phone call interrupted an introductory curate session, informing me of the sudden death of my grandad. Four days in and faced with the reality of death.
Yet even in the sorrow and grief, the Gospel meant I could rejoice in hope, for my grandad’s faith was in Christ and so his hope of eternal life is sure.
While he is no longer with us, he is now with Christ – which is far better.
That first week was a painful, yet equally powerful, reminder of the need for all to know the sure hope that faith in Christ brings.
Bringing the hope of the Gospel to those who are ‘without God and without hope’ has formed a large part of my activity, particularly as a church planting curate.
Much of my time has been given over to planning to plant a new worshipping community through which the gospel might be proclaimed afresh to this generation and the next.
Crucial to that has been the time spent connecting with the local area and the people living there. It has been a real encouragement to find God answering prayers and providing doors of gospel opportunity.
As well as a busy time of doing, it’s been a time of listening, particularly through getting to know other church ministers, local councillors and other community project leaders.
A major focus of my energy has been conducting community surveys amongst the residents in the area.
The goal is to connect and listen to the community, understand the needs and hopes of the people, so that we might discern how best to serve, reach out and proclaim God’s love.
A real highlight has been encouraging a team of volunteers, serving alongside them as we’ve knocked on 1,000+ doors in the area and connected with many different people.
I’ve also been greatly encouraged by serving alongside the staff team at St Giles’, a team of men and women who each bring different gifts and insights together. I count it a great blessing to be able to work and pray together, regularly spurring one another on towards living and speaking the gospel as we seek to equip God’s people and make Jesus known to others.
Much more could be said about the privilege of serving God’s people through studying and preaching God’s word, the warm welcome of St Giles’ my young family have received, the hectic Christmas schedule with multiple different carol services and of course, plenty more.
In all this I’m increasingly grateful that the Lord has brought me home to Derby and I look forward to playing my part in his work here over the coming months and years.
Will at his 2019 ordination with his parents