14 candidates will be ordained over the weekend to serve in parishes across the Diocese.
Nine candidates have completed their first year and will be ordained Priest in the Cathedral at 2pm on Saturday; after which they'll be able to preside at the Holy Communion. A further five candidates will be ordained Deacon at 10.30am on Sunday and are entering their first year of training as a curate.
The ordination services will be led by the Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge. The Revd Prebendary Chris Thorpe, vicar of the parishes of Shifnal, Sheriffhales and Tong in the Diocese of Lichfield will preach at the services having led the pre-ordination retreat for candidates.
Both services will be live streamed on Facebook and available to watch below. The videos will be live for seven days.
Download the order of service for:
To be ordained Deacon:
- Shaun Armstrong, to serve in the Kidderminster Ismere Team
- Melissa Beynon, to serve in the Halas Team, Halesowen
- Calum Burke, to serve at Top Church, Dudley
- Fraser Oates, to serve at All Saints Church in Worcester
- Richard Sandland, to serve in the Bromsgrove Team
To be ordained Priest:
- Claire Billington serving in Peopleton and White Ladies Aston w Churchill & Spetchley & Upton Snodsbury & Broughton Hackett
- Lindsey Coulthard serving at St Stephen Barbourne, Worcester
- Foluso Enwerem serving at Top Church, Dudley
- Jon Evans serving at Christ Church, Lye
- Jessica Fellows serving at All Saints, Worcester
- Christopher Henson serving at St John, Kidderminster
- Rosie Moss serving at St Nicholas, Warndon, Worcester
- Kim Topham serving in Clent and Hagley
- Carol Weston serving in the Brierley Hill team
Bishop John said: “These new deacons and priests will be a wonderful blessing to the communities where they will be ministering - to everyone, not just Christians. It is a great privilege to be able to ordain them and I pray for God’s rich blessing upon them as they go out and seek to be a blessing to others.”
Quotes and background information from the candidates:
Shaun Armstrong (Kidderminster Ismere Team)
I was born in Romford, Essex and moved to an inner-city suburb in Birmingham in 1988. I wasn't brought up as a Christian, but always had a strong sense of the injustice and the inequalities that shape our world.
This passion for the protection of others and to be able to be amongst people in their midst of struggle propelled me to become a Police Officer at just 18 years old. My career would be cut short by a road traffic collision and I eventually left the police at 25 years old searching for my next step. After some soul searching, I was accepted for training at the University of Worcester where I graduated as a Registered Mental Health Nurse. I would go on and work in a variety of different disciplines within the NHS and private healthcare.
It was whilst working in the NHS that I first felt the call to be a Christian and an Ordained Minister all at the same time! Shortly after my son's baptism (where I had been a sceptical observer on the periphery), I began to feel 'a tug' and inner call to 'go to church'. At the time, this was quite difficult to process as someone who felt he did not know Jesus, but over time, and immediately after a very deep spiritual encounter with Christ, I accepted that it was Christ who wanted me to 'walk with Him'.
What followed was a few years of discernment and wrestling with God. Guidance and support from so many people from within the Church and outside of it enabled me to put myself forward for training in the Church of England. I have recently completed two years of ordination training at Trinity College in Bristol.
I've always felt a call to serve others, but to become a Christian through the grace of God when I wasn't even looking and to receive the call to serve through ordination, is a gift from God that no words can justly describe. I strongly believe that many problems the human race faces today can be solved with the Gospel, with Christ alone, and having the opportunity be part of a Church that can truly proclaim that message is a privilege that cannot be measured.
I'm really looking forward to joining the Kidderminster Ismere team, being amongst the community and being part of what God is doing there now as well as in the future as I serve curacy.
Melissa Beynon (Halas Team, Halesowen)
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have faith in God, and prayed a lot when I was a child. I feel that I’ve been on a journey of vocation for most of my adult life, being involved in various roles in different settings, from university chaplaincy to leading groups in church.
I came to the Anglican Church in my 40s, after meeting my husband Wyn, an Anglican priest. We attended a liberal Anglo-catholic church, with all the 'smells and bells!’ It felt like coming home, as the worship was similar to the Roman Catholic Church of my childhood. I so appreciated the beauty and peace of it, and the warm welcome we received.
Soon after we were married, we moved to a benefice of five rural churches, and I began to feel a call to ministry. To cut a long story short, I was licensed as a lay Reader in 2017. Toward the end of my Reader training, I had begun to realise that God had something else in store for me. I enjoyed Reader ministry immensely, but over time and with discernment it became clear that I was called to ordination.
Training for ordination has been an incredible journey, with highs and lows. When our training moved online it was hard, but I have also made some wonderful new ‘Zoom friends'. I now feel as ready as I can be for ordination, and I'm looking forward to serving as curate in Halesowen. Ministry in a large town will be a new and exciting experience for me, and I know I will learn so much in both giving and receiving with the people there.
Calum Burke (Top Church, Dudley)
I’m Calum, and I’m married to Carolyn, who works with refugees and asylum seekers. We have two children – Niamh, aged five and Rory, aged one. I’m so excited to be beginning my ordained ministry in Dudley, the jewel of the Black Country! I’m really looking forward to sampling the local delicacies and learning the “new language”!
I was brought up on a housing estate in West London by my Jewish mother. My dyslexia, which I now see as a blessing, meant that I had to attend a school that could meet my needs. By God’s grace, this ended up being a Church of England school. During my time at this school, I joined the Christian union, mainly to cause trouble! However, I ended up finding myself accepted and loved by the group. Over several years this led to me becoming a follower of Jesus.
When I came to faith in Jesus, I knew that he was calling me to work with and live among people of other faiths. This has led to me working in various diverse contexts, including: Sri Lanka, Southall and most recently the Gulf, an area I hope to continue my connection with. I have always found inter-faith engagement, especially Christian-Muslim relations, very enriching. In my final year at Ridley, I decided to write my dissertation on the doctrine of the Trinity in Christian-Muslim relations. An area of theology I hope to continue reflecting on during my curacy. I believe that God has called me to ordained ministry to further the Church’s ministry with people of other faiths.
I am looking forward to meeting and engaging with the many faith communities represented in Dudley and the Black Country. After a challenging year of not celebrating major festivals with Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Jews, I look forward to a year of good food and conversation with my neighbours and friends of other faiths.
Fraser Oates (All Saints Church, Worcester)
I grew up and came to faith in a Pentecostal church in West Yorkshire. I spent 25 years as part of that church family where, like most people, I journeyed through many ups and downs. I was invested in and encouraged and became heavily involved in the life and leadership of the church.
In 2014, my wife Jo and I relocated to Malvern. Jo was working as a graphic designer for an international mission charity and I continued my career in architecture at a practice in Worcester. During this time I also undertook a part-time degree in theology, an outworking of the long-term calling I felt to some expression of church ministry. Following our move, Jo and I began to attend All Saints’ Church in Worcester where we encountered the familiarity of our Pentecostal roots and the unfamiliar yet captivating traditions of Anglicanism. At All Saints we were welcomed by authenticity, kindness, and a Spirit-led community of believers, and so we committed ourselves to attending and serving there. A few years later after discernment and prayer I was accepted for ordained ministry in the Church of England. I have just completed three years at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, which has stretched me, shaped me, and fuelled me for the future.
I am excited to be continuing serving the All Saints family as a curate, in partnership with Jo and our two beautiful girls. I am particularly looking forward to a broader depth of engagement and experience in the life of the parish and endeavouring to serve the wider church as part of All Saints’ resourcing church projects. I also look forward to the concept of planting and pioneering fresh expressions of Christian ministry and mission in the future. I am deeply humbled at the thought of ordination. I do not feel qualified or deserving, and as has become the rhythm of my journey so far, I continue to seek God's direction and provision as I am ordained this summer.
Richard Sandland (Bromsgrove Team)
God has been rather vague with me, which is sort of how I like it; and, given the number of times He seems to have been happy with this approach too, it seems evident that He is a caring God who gently suggests things to people and then sees what happens!
In my previous job, at the RSC in Stratford, we did a play called Written on the Heart. It was about the writing of the King James Version (KJV) of the bible, starring Lancelot Andrewes and William Tyndale. In one scene, these two men - Tyndale in spirit form, of course - debated translations of The Beatitudes. I sat, and watched, and listened as these words came alive for me. Gradually, I realised that I’d been wrong all of my life about God. What to do about that?
I nipped to Stratford Waterstones and bought a furtive copy of the KJV.
Some time later, a question popped into my mind: ‘What is it like to be a Priest?’
I wondered where that came from, and just why I wanted to know. Another thing to ‘do something’ about? Hmm…
Since then, lots of praying, thinking, and talking. I had circled St Mary’s Church, in the wonderful Kidderminster Ismere Team, and saw some relatively ‘normal’ looking people going in; no-one had three heads, anyway…These people turned out, actually, to be extraordinary, in their generosity, friendship, prayerfulness and affirmation. What to do about that?
Well, they were like that because they followed Jesus. So that’s what I did. I was confirmed, joyfully, in 2015.
Later again, I told my wife that I thought I was called to be a Priest. This happened in the Lion Inn, Leintwardine, where I was fortified by the Holy Spirit and triple-cooked chips. She now refers to it as the ’Bombshell Boozer’.
God has been generous to me; His call has been to draw me onwards, step by step, talking to me equally generously in doubt and in certainty, leading me to the divine alpine pasture, to a sunny upland where I know that the call is right. God allows humans to have moments of despair and ecstasy in the following of his call; He looks on, kindly, wisely, and with inexpressible love, and holds us close to His heart, in both our worries and our certainties.
I’m so proud (a sin, I know, I know) that He has called me to Bromsgrove to serve as best I can in His name and by His grace. At last, I know what I should be doing!
Claire Billington (Peopleton and White Ladies Aston w Churchill & Spetchley & Upton Snodsbury & Broughton Hackett)
This year has certainly been a rollercoaster for the world, but understanding that, has put so much into perspective.
It has been disappointing not being able to do what I thought I would have done as a new curate, but I have realised the importance of being able to look for the glimpses of light and to do the best in every situation. Funeral ministry, for instance, has obviously continued and even though fewer people could attend, I have found them to be meaningful and more poignant. Thank goodness for telephoning, texting and emails to keep in touch with people, plus socially distanced walks.
I have been over-ambitious in signing up to so many online courses but that has been easier than having to travel around the county. Being someone who likes to know what she will be doing well in advance, I’ve had a steep learning curve coping with plans having to change at the last minute. I have been pleasantly surprised at how liberating that can be!
I have been welcomed into our local C of E first school and have also found encouragement in all our parishes. I am looking forward to being ordained as priest and especially being able to broaden my ministry through sharing of Holy Communion. It is good to have our beautiful church buildings open again, but as lockdown eases more fully, I hope to find ways of making more links with people who wouldn’t even think of coming to church.
Lindsey Coulthard (St Stephen Barbourne, Worcester)
My first year serving as a deacon has been entirely shaped by the pandemic we find ourselves in. This has meant that both the ability to adapt and the ability to live with uncertainty have become key features of my ministry whilst at the same time keeping an intuitive heart and mind on what has been occurring contextually.
It has been a tremendous privilege to serve the community of St. Stephen’s and despite all the upheaval and readjustment I truly believe I have been called to priestly ministry for just such a time as this. Though it has not been without challenge – my journey so far has been incredibly humbling and a real joy. It has been an honour to walk beside and to pray for people; to share in the pain of loss and despair and to rejoice in small triumphs and successes.
Together we have been creative in enabling as many folk as possible to maintain a sense of connectedness, nurturing new skills and encouraging a variety of individual ministries whilst living through long periods of physical isolation. By the grace of God I feel that ministering as a deacon has prepared the way for that most precious gift of priestly ministry, laying firm foundations on which I can continue to build for the rest of my life in God’s service and the people to whom he sends me. Thank you to Reverend Andy Todd and all at St. Stephen’s for your warmth, your welcome and your support.
Foluso Enwerem (Top Church, Dudley)
Starting curacy in the midst of a global pandemic has certainly been a journey into the unexpected. I don’t think I can reflect on this past year – or think about the year ahead – without acknowledging the impact that Covid-19 has had on our lives. Over this past year, the pandemic has wrenched us all out of our comfort zones in such a stark and painful way; we have all had to face loss in so many ways, at so many levels… it’s not something that many of us saw coming and, even as we now begin to see a way through with the breakthrough of the vaccines, one year on, having experienced various states of lockdown and restrictions, these are still very sobering times.
In the midst of all the challenges, there have also been experiences of real fellowship and perhaps, for us all, a much deeper appreciation of how much simply being with other people actually means to us in our day-to-day life. As I consider what it means to me to be ordained a priest and what this next year of curacy might be like, I am looking forward to discovering more of what it is to discern and foster the gifts of all God’s people – I have a sense of anticipation about what God will do in us and through us, to enable us to join him in what He is doing in making the love of Jesus known in thought and word and deed – here in Dudley and beyond!
Jon Evans (Christ Church, Lye)
“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34.18). After an unprecedented year which has been a difficult time for many people, these words cannot be any more comforting.
As deacons, we declared that we will strive to make the love of Christ known through word and example, and as priests, we will declare that we will lead Christ’s people in proclaiming his glorious gospel, so that the good news of salvation may be heard in every place. These words are at the heart of what we do as part of the body of Christ, God’s love and the gospel cannot be separated, as in the act of Jesus dying on the cross to take the penalty of sin, we ultimately see God saving those who are crushed in spirit.
In ministry, we strive to declare to the broken-hearted and crushed in spirit to repent and believe, or as the Psalm earlier says: taste and see that the Lord is good. Over this last year as a deacon, it has been obvious that these words are as relevant as when they are written and what grace it is that God has entrusted me to proclaim these words and to equip his church to join this proclamation.
As we get ordained as priests, may we continue to proclaim the gospel boldly, leading God’s children to be set free from the bondage of sin, and when we proclaim Christ’s death and coming again at the Lord’s table, may we seek to remind people that our loving and merciful God is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Jess Fellows (All Saints, Worcester)
My first year of curacy seems to have flown by. It’s been a bit of rollercoaster, with lots of different challenges but throughout it all Jesus has been so faithful.
Moving to a new city and starting a new role during a pandemic was tricky but I was met with open arms by the people of All Saints. I have loved serving the church over this year and it’s been a privilege to get to know people, albeit much slower than I would have liked! The pockets of community I have found myself in have felt even more special. I have come to realise once again, what a precious calling this is as I see Jesus in those around me.
Becoming a priest feels particularly exciting in this moment as we re-imagine what church is going to look like in the future. As we rebuild, I believe churches’ resilience and creativity is going to be key. I’m blown away that God has called me at this time! I’m often struck at the privileged role we play in many people’s lives and I’m looking forward to continuing that as a priest.
I have been so grateful for the support on this journey and can’t wait to celebrate with the others being priested!
Christopher Henson (St John, Kidderminster)
Saying farewell to Theological College and embarking on curacy during a national pandemic has been one of mixed emotions to put it lightly, simply because there has been no prior script or similar episode in modern history to rely upon. The usual routine of parish ministry has been turned on its head, with some interesting and positive outcomes as well as many frustrations and lessons learnt.
In the New Testament Our Lord emphasises the One Body and underlines the importance of unity across all church communities, thus the saving grace during these unexpected times comes from the model set before me, exemplified in the life of the clergy, people, parishes and deanery in my area. Their openness and willingness to unite and bond as brothers and sisters under Christ during these times has given me much inspiration and admiration in what it means to be Kingdom People, and indeed what it means to be a faithful Deacon and Priest.
My ordination to the Priesthood comes at a time when the world is slowly easing its social restrictions, and I await that day with joy, hope and a touch of Godly fear.
Rosie Moss (St Nicholas, Warndon, Worcester)
My first year as a Curate has been full of firsts: leading worship online, conducting services outdoors (even on Christmas morning), and also taking funerals and baptisms. It is a huge privilege and is also deeply humbling to be able to minister and walk alongside others, often when they are at their most vulnerable.
As restrictions have lifted a little, it has been a joy to meet people from the parish in person. I have received so much friendship, fellowship and support from them which is a true blessing.
I have developed many skills, not least in the use of technology for worship and study groups, and also my ability to consume tea and cake!
To be ordained Priest will be so special. To be able to preside at the Eucharist will be such an honour. I know there are many challenges ahead, but have the full support of my church family, my Training Incumbent and the Diocesan Director of Ordinands.
I hope that my ordination will show others who are thinking about it that it is never too late to pursue God’s call. I never thought I would get to this point, but I am so glad to be here. I hope I will be able to encourage others to take a similar leap of faith.
Kim Topham (Clent and Hagley)
This past year has been a strange and challenging one and we’ve had to find creative ways to serve as deacons. But it has also grounded me in humility and service. It will be an experience I shall not forget and will probably return to many times in the coming years.
To now be ordained a priest will be both a privilege and a humbling experience. I look forward to serving God and His people more deeply and feel blessed to be able to preside at communion and be able to catch up on all the postponed weddings due to the restrictions. This is such an exciting time, even without all the pomp and ceremony which usually accompanies ordinations. Although there will be fewer people present, my colleagues and I will be ordained before God and that is what is important. Our lives will be forever changed, forever united, forever blessed.
Carol Weston (Brierley Hill)
The past year has gone incredibly quickly and has been a wonderful experience.
My ordination to the priesthood feels like completeness. Clergy are often with people at their most intimate moments, and it will be a privilege to be able to offer them the sacraments and show them to Jesus.