Ordination Stories 2017: The Deacons
30 June 2017 by cofebirmingham

Ordination Stories 2017: The Deacons

Ben Cook

I was born in Paris but grew up in (very different) Walsall and Sutton Coldfield! I joined a Christian youth group when I was 11 and through the perseverance and patience of the youth work team at my local church I became a Christian when I was 18. I took a year out before university and worked as an assistant youth worker and discovered a gift and passion for youth work and young people. Whilst completing a theology and youth ministry degree I spent three years working with young people in Wolverhampton and then went on to spend seven very happy years as a youth minister for the parish of St Philip and St James in Dorridge and Bentley Heath, where I also met my amazing wife Hannah. Through guidance from the Hill-Browns and many others I finally accepted that God was asking me to explore ordination. I started training at St Mellitus College in London whilst also working in the parish of Aston and Nechells, where I have been running two messy church congregations, preaching and leading for the last three years. Along the way Hannah and I have become parents to the energetic Jacob. As well as telling people about Jesus, I am also passionate about my family, Aston Villa, board games, reading theology, music, films and podcasting.

Sarah Cooper

I went to church every Sunday at boarding school (chore) and sometimes with my Grandmother in holiday-time (choice). Although I learnt to say the right words in the right place for a service, I did not develop a personal faith or belief in God at that age. My continuing transformation through and with Christ was to come later having endlessly questioned the meaning, purpose and value of life. After hitting rock bottom I am truly able to understand the despair that at times we all feel, when we begin to realise that we are not as in control as perhaps we’d been led to believe or society suggests!

Without consciously searching for God, as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, this truth was nevertheless intimately revealed. God spoke these words to me in the depths of darkness; “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Through accepting the love of others (people of all faiths and none, including those whom society still shuns), I am called to witness to the Good News promise of eternal HOPE in the world. Thanks to my church family at St Peter’s and other close friends; my commitment to serve God’s church in leadership continues to grow ever deeper. The ongoing awe and wonder of this liberating, God-given experience will underpin my ministry in the church and wider parish of St John’s, Perry Barr.

Jenni Crewes

I was born in London and as I grew up I dipped in and out of my local Anglican church, taking time to consider if I wanted to commit be a Christian. At 18 I felt sure and got confirmed the day before moving to Glasgow to study. It was during my time as a student that my faith significantly grew and I developed a passion for the world church, and especially for interfaith relations.

Unsure of how I would use my passion and gifts I moved to Birmingham in 2009 to work with The Feast, an amazing charity that enables young people of different faiths to meet, discuss their faith openly and honestly, form friendships and bring positive change to their communities. My call to ordination became clearer through this work, flourishing by learning with a diversity of people of my own faith, others and none.

I consider it a privilege to serve God by working for the church and I am excited for the coming weeks, months and years living out this call. I am delighted that the next part of this journey will be in Birmingham in the parish of Hodge Hill.

Nick Drake

Ordination is a significant step for me in the adventure of being involved in what God is doing in the world through his church. I first encountered God as a teenager and have been captivated ever since by the idea of knowing God more and then helping others to know Him. I pursued two twin passions as tools to do this: Music and Theology—studying theology at Durham, Kings and now Birmingham (hoping to complete the PhD this year!)—and being Worship Pastor at St Paul’s Hammersmith for 10 years. My wife, Becky and I moved up to Birmingham 2 years ago with our 4 children, Daisy, Joel, Noah and Levi to be part of a new church St Luke’s Gas Street as well as to work on the PhD. We can’t wait to be more involved and move into this new season of ordained ministry at St Luke’s Gas Street and Great Colmore Street and are very grateful for all the support of our current congregations as well as our friends from London and family in making today possible.

Sam Gibson

I’ve lived in the Midlands most of my life, growing up in Erdington where I attended St Barnabas school and church, then to Handsworth Grammar, and later in Dudley. My parents were previously Salvation Army officers and I remember my baptism in May 1995. I believe that much of what has happened since is God’s fulfilment of the promises offered to me in that sacrament. Although my early years were formative, it was only in my late teens that I came to committed Christian faith again, finding myself at home in the Catholic tradition. I started to sense God’s deep call upon my life, especially encountering Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and in His offer of repentance and reconciliation. It was then that I heard the first hints of a call to ordination too. Most of what I have done since then has been an exploration of that call. I studied Classics and Theology at the University of Birmingham and started to pursue an academic career in Biblical Studies, finishing a PhD in 2016, but many friends and wise guides helped me to discern a vocation to parish ministry. I met my wife, Charlotte, at university and we have two wonderful kids. Spending two years training at St Stephen’s House in Oxford has been enriching, and I am looking forward to serving with the people of Solihull.

Helene Horan

Eight years ago I became an Associate of The Community of St John the Divine and I shall be for ever grateful for their guidance, love and prayers during my time of discernment concerning my vocation. When I received the call from God to go forward I was extremely touched by the love and support that I received from my sending church St Leonard’s, Marston Green. It was there that I was confirmed as a young mum to Peter when I was twenty-seven years old. Over thirty years later and after being entrusted with many forms of parish ministry which have ranged from school visits to cooking parish lunches no-one is more surprised than me to find myself here today. Whilst sad to be leaving St Leonard’s I am really excited to be joining St Andrew’s in Chelmsley Wood. This year I feel truly blessed as it is the year that I have completed my theological studies at Queens Foundation, am becoming the ‘new curate’ at St Andrew’s but it is also the year that I’ve become a grandmother. So my thanks go not only to God but to my wonderful family and my patiently, kind and truly supportive husband Richard.

Ann Peachey

I grew up in a large Christian family and have always been aware of God in my life. At various times over the years I have asked God what he wanted me to do, for Him to guide my life choices. It has often been the case of following what I’m passionate about, being with people and getting to know Jesus better. I realised over the years, and particularly when we moved to Dorridge from Oxford 10 years ago, that God was leading me to bring these two together in serving Him in the church, which was surprising, exciting and daunting. As with many decisions I have made in life, I weighed them up with friends and family. God gave me, through them, the courage to keep walking this journey, even though at times it has seemed too difficult and crazy. I’m very grateful for Will and my children, and my wider family and friends, who have supported me, not only in the past few years of studying, but in all life’s ups and downs. I look forward to the next chapter serving as curate at Knowle Parish Church.

Cath Walker

Born in Somerset to a non-churchgoing family. It came as a surprise when my grandfather requested his funeral to be in church. The family started attending and I became involved. I first felt called to ministry early on, then spent the next 20+ years running away from it.

I moved to Birmingham in 1997 for drama school and fell in love with the city. My fiancé, Phil, joined me shortly afterwards. My churchgoing lapsed during university but on returning, one Christmas, I felt an overwhelming sense of coming home and, to my embarrassment, sat crying. We joined St Gabriel’s, Weoley Castle, got married and our son, Elijah, was baptised. Moving to Rubery, where our second son, Reuben was born, we attended Holy Trinity, Lickey. After a long conversation, in which I avoided the word “ordination”, my vicar encouraged me to pursue my calling.

However, I was convinced that I was not “good enough” to be a minister, believing they had a superhuman ability to always do what was right and as a dyslexic, I was convinced that was not me. I have learnt that God sometimes chooses the broken, the clumsy and even the inarticulate, using our brokenness to reach out with love to all.