Richard Sandland was ordained Deacon in Worcester Cathedral on 4 July to serve in the parish of Bromsgrove. Here he tells the story of how he came to faith.
Before training for ordination, Richard worked as Music Operations Manager with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, and it was watching a play in 2011 which completely changed the course of his life. He said:
“In my previous job at the RSC, we did a play called Written on the Heart (written by David Edgar). 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. I nipped to Stratford Waterstones and bought a furtive copy of the KJV.”
Richard ‘circled’ St Mary’s Church in Kidderminster and realised that the people going in looked quite normal! He began to attend and found that: “the people turned out, actually, to be extraordinary, in their generosity, friendship, prayerfulness and affirmation.”
Richard was confirmed in 2015 and it didn’t take long before he began wondering what it might be like to be a priest, although he wondered where the question came from and why he wanted to know! After lots of praying, thinking and talking, he broke the news to his wife that he felt called to be a priest in a local pub. “I was fortified by the Holy Spirit and triple-cooked chips. She now refers to it as the ’Bombshell Boozer’!”
Richard trained for ordination at the Queen’s Foundation in Birmingham from 2018 and said of the experience: “My training has taught me that questions and debates are often more important than answers, and that doubts don’t deny one’s faith. The cohort I have trained alongside – from the Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, and Wesleyan Holiness churches - have affirmed my Anglican faith within our differences and discussions, so that I feel equipped to be sent out into the diversity of people I will meet in my curacy.”
When looking back on his journey to ordination, Richard commented:
“God has been rather vague with me, which is sort of how I like it and it seems evident that He is a caring God who gently suggests things to people and then sees what happens! He has drawn me on, step by step until I reached a place where I knew the call was right. I feel very proud to have been called to Bromsgrove to serve my curacy and feel that at last I know what I should be doing!”