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Welcoming - and considering - new ministry

A Message from our Team Rector:

It was lovely to see so many people at St Mary’s Ashford Town Centre on Wednesday night to welcome the Revd Charlotte Coles to her new ministry as an Associate Priest in our parish. We ran out of service booklets early on and had to keep bringing out additional chairs. So many more than we were expecting – a nice problem to have!

I’m really grateful to the many people who contributed to making it such a very special occasion, including all who had specific roles in the service and the wonderful joint choir. Their rendition of the modern anthem ‘Christ has no body now but yours’ was simply stunning. I know that the small ‘home’ team worked really hard behind the scenes on practical organisation of all kinds and providing refreshments – thank you so much. As ever, I would be lost without the support of Jacquie and Libby in the office. And my thanks also to everyone who was able to come and share in the celebration.

Bishop Rose challenged us as well as encouraging us in her sermon – as she always does. She noted that Charlotte would be joining Cathie and Dawn as Self-Supporting Priests serving our parish. It is a truly remarkable gift that we have been given, through their generous and sacrificial self-giving in ministry, and one that we need to appreciate and treasure. We rejoice in their vocation, and in the new step of her journey that Charlotte was taking as she was licensed here. But Bishop Rose wanted each of us to think about what new steps Christ might be asking us to take as we seek to follow his call. Could any of us also be called to offer ourselves in a similar way, as Self-Supporting Priests?

Not many of us are called to ordained ministry – but some are, and we should all be on the lookout for signs of such a calling. All of us, however, are called: called to take on specific roles in society, called to particular forms of relationship (including marriage for some of us), and called to exercise gifts and fulfil responsibilities in the life of the church. What does that look like for you, right now? Can you see ways in which you have responded to each of those three dimensions of our calling in Christ?

Not many of us are called to ordained ministry – but we all need to be open to the possibility of new horizons, new paths, on the journey of discipleship. We never reach a point where we can say: well, this is what I do, and that’s not going to change. Where might Christ be calling you to go further and deeper in a vocation you have been inhabiting for a long time? And where might Christ be calling you to lay down a task or responsibility you have held for many years, and be ready to embrace something new as we share in his mission together?

Revd Canon Dr Jeremy Worthen

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