This weekend the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, will ordain eight women and four men at a joyful service in York Minster and will be witnessed by many family and friends.
This will be only the second time that more women than men have been made Deacon in the Diocese of York. They join the 950 people being ordained in the Church of England over the course of this year, a sign of hope within the Church.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said:
“It is wonderful to be ordaining these 12 disciples of Jesus Christ as Deacon on the day that the Church celebrates the witness of Thomas the Apostle. Although he is always known as ‘doubting Thomas’, when Thomas encountered the risen Jesus he exclaimed ‘My Lord and my God’. These 12 people have had an encounter with Jesus Christ and that means that they are willing to take the extraordinary leap of faith of letting go of what has given them security in the past, and follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit to dedicate themselves to the service of God and of others. What a fantastic encouragement to all of us to do the same!”
Those being ordained come from a real variety of backgrounds including Carol Backhouse, who had previously trained as a nurse and worked in York’s A&E department for several years. She said, “I grew up in Ilford (East London) and started going to church aged seven, as the parish had a close link with my Brownie and Guide groups. I was baptised and confirmed as a teenager; and when I started as a student in York I became involved in the university chaplaincy. Later, I helped out with Christian Aid; and also with Transcendence, a creative worship service hosted in the Minster’s crypt. This was where I found some of my calling to ministry.
During my time at college in Cambridge, I’ve really enjoyed my placements with the RAF chaplains; and also with Jesus College Chapel and the Westway Open Arms Centre in Scarborough. I’ve just come back from a month in the Holy Land - it was a powerful experience of the tensions and inequalities there, yet wonderful to join Christians from around the world to celebrate Easter.”
Also being ordained is Eve Ridgeway, who first felt called to ordination in the summer after leaving university. She is from the first cohort to train at the St Barnabas Theological Centre which provides contextual training. Eve said “Training alongside Anglicans, independent students and Baptists, and as part of a local church community has increased my passion for the local church and has been such a blessing, and I trust it will serve me well in curacy. I can't wait to get to know a new city, Hull, and its people, especially as we enter the year of the city of culture in 2017. “
Graeme Holdsworth , and his wife Carol who is a licensed Reader, came to faith in their 30s. He commented that, “We find that often the biggest leaps in our faith have come from accepting the most challenging nudges of the Holy Spirit. For me, leaving a successful career to train for stipendiary ministry meant giving up not just a good income, but autonomy and self-sufficiency as well. I feel that this step of putting my trust in God has been blessed and I've enjoyed growing in the knowledge and love of God at Cranmer Hall in Durham. We are hoping that in serving the church we will be a blessing on the world around us, and draw others to Jesus.”