Archbishop ordains eleven new Deacons to serve in York Diocese


Six women and five men will be ordained Deacon by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, in a service at 10.00am in York Minster on Sunday 2nd July.

They include a former railwayman, sous chef, social worker, psychology lecturer, counsellor, banker and a teacher, and each has trained for ordination at college or on a part-time course.

On ordination as Deacons, nine will serve as a Curate – an assistant minister in training – in a parish within the Diocese of York (which is the Church of England from the Humber to the Tees) while two have been called to remain a ‘Vocational Deacon’.

Five of the new Deacons will be housed and supported full-time by the church, while the other six will continue to live in their own home and support themselves from their own employment or other resources.

Dr Sentamu said, “If you want to see who God calls to serve him and his world, just look at these people of all backgrounds and ages and experience!  Thank God for their faith and their decision to put their lives in his hands; we know he will use them to spread his love and his word and go out to make a difference in the world.”

The new deacons are listed below with the parishes in which they will serve.

Simon Biddlestone
Born in Birmingham but came to York to study politics where he met and married Kate. Has worked as a primary teacher and head teacher, now with five children from 3 to 16 and a dog.

Will serve as stipendiary curate in Tadcaster, Church Fenton, Kirkby Wharfe and Newton Kyme, with the Revd Canon Sue Sheriff.

Trained at Cranmer Hall, Durham but looking forward to living in Church Fenton and being able to see York City.

‘It has been an exciting journey for the whole family as we have discerned God’s call for me to move from being a Headteacher to being ordained.’

Tina Burgess
Been living in Middlesbrough and was a stay-at-home mum and primary school teacher. Married to Neil, has three children, two hamster, four fish and a surrogate house bunny.

Will serve as non-stipendiary (self-supporting) curate in St Cuthbert, Ormesby (Middlesbrough) with the Revd Jen Croft.

Found God while in America and has known for a long time that one day she would serve him in the church, even if it has taken twenty years to come to fruition.

Been training with St Hild College in Sheffield. Looking forward to seeing God breathe new life into his church

‘It’s never too late to respond to your call.’

Jenni Foreman
Trained as a social worker in York, where she met and married Jamie.

Will serve as stipendiary curate at St Nicholas, Hull with the Revd Paul Copley.

Moved to study at Cranmer Hall in Durham.

Passionate to see the church grow in numbers and depth of faith, and in the courage to step out into the things God calls us to.

‘Thrilled to be moving to Hull and joining the community at St Nic’s and sharing the love of Jesus with that community.’

Toby Gibbons
From Salisbury, Wiltshire and engaged to Ruthi Banbury, curate at St Oswald’s, Fulford, York. Studied History and Theology and has worked as a sous chef and librarian.

Will serve as stipendiary curate at St Chad’s, Campleshon Road, York, with the Revd John Day.

A Liberal Catholic committed to social justice and reaching out to people on the margins, including in a high security prison.  Also loves Liberation and Feminist theologies.

Looking forward to join community of St Chad’s and getting to know the local community.

‘Excited to explore possible outlets for mission and ways to grow the church.’

Linda Gillard
Born in Hessle, East Yorkshire and worked for Yorkshire bank and in NHS administration as well as a volunteer hospital and hospice chaplain.

Will be serving as non-stipendiary (self-supporting) curate in Marfleet, Hull, with the Revd David Rogers.

Previously a Roman Catholic but was received into the Church of England in 2014.

Studied Theology and Ministry and tried to ignore the call to serve for not feeling gifted enough but discernment has taught her to be happy with who she is and that she can have a role in ministry.

Hoping to become involved in pastoral ministry in a new parish, to set up Godly Play groups and taking part in a worshiping in a different tradition.

‘Everyone has different gifts to bring’

Carmel Gittens
Moved from West Lancashire four years ago to serve as a full-time Reader in the Diocese of York.  Married to Billy and has three children, four stepchildren and eight grandchildren.

Will serve as non-stipendiary (self-supporting) curate in Alne & Brafferton with Pilmoor, Myton on Swale and Thormanby, with the Revd Chris Park.

Has lectured in Psychology before working for a mental health charity but now feels called to lead the church in a rural setting.

Loves dancing, DIY and cake decorating.

Has been struck by the warm welcome from St Peter’s, Brafferton, and hopes to work closely with the local community, including schools to show people how they are loved by God and how lives can be changed when we accept Jesus into our hearts.

‘Pray for me, asking that God will give me wisdom, patience, kindness and courage.’

Ben Gunter
Married with two daughters. Inspired by a love of nature and a desire to make sense of it and enjoyed passing on that enthusiasm as a teacher.

Will serve as stipendiary curate in Norton on Derwent with the Revd Rachel Hirst.

After attending an Alpha course in York and rediscovering faith, started to help run other Alpha courses and working for his church.

After training for ordination in Durham, the family are looking forward to moving back to York. ‘Daughter is concerned with colour of new school uniform while dad is looking forward to seeing what God has in store for the future.’

David Hobman
Retired from Network Rail after 30 years and currently is clerk to a medieval guild in York, and travels to promote the city.

Will serve as non-stipendiary (self-supporting) Deacon based in the York City Centre churches of All Saints Pavement, St Denys, St Helen with St Martin, St Olave, Holy Trinity Micklegate and St Lawrence, with the Revd Jane Nattrass.

Based at Holy Trinity Micklegate and spends time with rough sleepers in the city and set up Sunday morning breakfast ministry at Spurriergate Centre which has grown to serve about 60 people a week.

Hopes after ordination to be able to continue to be a channel between the church and the streets and to bring those from the streets into the church.

‘Always happy to help!’

John McWilliams
An interesting and varied career from Hull to London; advertising to palliative nursing care. Faith journey has taken many twists and turns but God’s love kept drawing him back until he finally submitted to test a call to ordained ministry.

John will work across the South Holderness Deanery where he is called to remain a non-stipendiary (self-supporting) deacon, working much of his time outside of the church and the church family, rather than being ordained a priest in a year’s time. There are now a number of deacons working on this basis in the Diocese of York and he will be the first in South Holderness Deanery.

John aims to build bridges between the community and the church by bringing the needs of the community into the church and supporting and encouraging the local church to find ways to reach out to meet those needs with the love of God. ‘Exciting times!’

Fiona Robinson
Lived in Hull most of life, married to Graham with four children. Felt the call to something more in 2014 and was told to read The Christian Priest Today (by former Archbishop of York and Canterbury Michael Ramsey).

Will serve as non-stipendiary (self-supporting) curate in Sutton Park St Andrew and Wawne St Peter (Hull) with the Revd Christopher van Straaten.

Has worked as a lay prison Chaplain for 6 years and will be continuing this after ordination along with the new challenge and joys of adjusting to parish ministry.

Looking forward to working with new colleagues and being part of the plans God has for Hull.

‘I still can’t quite believe it (I’ve got a cassock so it must be true!)’

Claire Todd
Was a Senior Children and Families Counsellor working with the Education Psychology service of local government. Has two grown up children and a grandson.

Will serve as stipendiary curate in Marton in Cleveland with the Revd Andy Grant.

Lived was licensed in Redcar but moved to Cambridge to train at Ridley Hall after years of ignoring the call to ordination.

Hopes for ordained ministry are to be a positive ambassador and servant of Christ, to walk alongside people to bring people into relationship deeper relationship with Jesus. ‘The more I learn, I realise the less I know’.

For further information or to speak to candidates contact Diocesan Communications Manager Martin Sheppard on 07544 803160 or [email protected].