26 new members of the clergy ordained in Winchester as the Diocese
26 new members of the clergy ordained in Winchester as the Diocese welcomes record-breaking intake of new ministers
New deacons will serve parishes across Hampshire and East Dorset
In the largest intake of new clergy in over two decades, 26 men and women joined the Diocese of Winchester’s team of clergy on Sunday 4th July as they were ordained deacons at Winchester Cathedral.
13 men and 13 women have come to serve God in parishes across Hampshire and East Dorset. As well as being the largest intake of new clergy, it is also the most women to be ordained in a single year this century. The ordinands come from a variety of backgrounds, bringing with them a breadth of unique experiences. Between them, they have worked in a wide range of sectors, including journalism, the third sector and education. They have now responded to God’s call to serve their local communities as Christian leaders.
The new deacons were ordained following two or three years of training, and the large intake this year is a result of the Diocese’s increased focus on growing ministry over the last several years. As servant-leaders, deacons take on the responsibility of serving their communities and reaching out to those in need. Deacons will usually be ordained to the priesthood the following year. Seventeen deacons were ordained priests on Saturday 3rd July bringing the total of ordinations over the weekend to forty-three, demonstrating that Jesus Christ continues to call people to sacrificial ministry in the church despite the pressures of ordinary life.
The Right Reverend Debbie Sellin Bishop of Southampton said: “Despite the challenges of the past year, our ordinands have remained resilient and positive throughout. The fact that we have so many ordinands this year goes to show the importance of discipleship in our communities. I am honoured to ordain and welcome those whom God has called to serve the Church and our communities across the Winchester Diocese. I look forward to witnessing how each individual manifests their gifts and enriches their ministry.”
Some of those ordained at the weekend, include:
Lauren Cheshire, Bournemouth St John with St Michael
Lauren Cheshire (36) is the co-founder and trustee of Eastleigh based Christian charity, Fledge which provides homeless young people with accommodation and long-term support.
Before founding Fledge, Lauren had originally trained as a veterinary nurse and later went into youth ministry in Winchester while becoming a mum to her own growing family. Over this time Lauren also worked at a college as a Youth Worker alongside her husband Mark who was volunteering.
It was during a trip to Soul Survivor with around 60 kids, that Lauren and Mark realised many young people were falling through the gaps in the system, and risked homelessness. It was their faith in Jesus Christ, who choose to make his home with us, that inspired them to provide for the vulnerable and led them to set up their charity Fledge.
Since its establishment in 2014, Fledge has housed 77 young adults over 20,161 nights, and now leases five properties comprised of a variety of self-contained flats and houses that can home up to 26 residents. As well as accommodation, Fledge provides a holistic approach to support aimed at encouraging independence and guiding young people towards adulthood.
As Fledge developed, Lauren found the experience taught her to be a facilitator for change, a lesson that was later reinforced through her training for ordination. Although Lauren always felt a pull towards the Church, it wasn’t until she took her job with St Cross Winchester that she realised her previous experiences were preparing her for ordained ministry.
Lauren said: “Everything in life is transient and Fledge taught me not to build empires. I am here now as a weaver, watcher and interpreter, and an equipper of the Church. I am looking forward to participating in Jesus's priesthood, and helping every single other person find their vocation and see how God is moving among us.”
Lauren will go on to serve Bournemouth St John with St Michael and looks forward to being pioneering in the parish.
Jemima Lewis, Kings Worthy & Headbourne Worthy
Jemima Lewis (37) is going on to serve the Kings Worthy and Headbourne Worthy parishes. Before being ordained Jemima manifested her passion for communication and storytelling through her writing and worked as a freelance journalist for the likes of The Daily Telegraph, Church Times and women’s magazine, Elle. Throughout her writing career Jemima focused mainly on women’s issues and the crossover between religion and ethics, finding a love for engaging with people and listening to their stories.
After having her three children Jemima recognised a gap within the City Centre Chaplaincy where there was an opportunity to support young mothers. Jemima built a small team and set up an additional service to the City Centre Chaplaincy in a side room at the baby weigh-in at United Church. The chaplaincy aimed at creating a non-threatening environment where mums could be themselves and be honest about the struggles of parenthood. Jemima and the team would chat to the mums and listen to their concerns and found that many of the same more vulnerable women, who perhaps felt they didn't fit in at the mainstream church toddler groups, would often come back for encouragement and reassurance that they were doing a good job.
Jemima said “Listening to people and being present with them helps us to discern what God is doing, not just within their lives, but the community, and throughout our generation. Being ordained means hearing those calls and being an influencer for change. Throughout training I learned a real lesson. Don’t ever be impatient and just trust God’s timing, because if it’s meant to be, you will find a way.”
Jemima frequently felt a pull towards ordination, and it was the perspective gleaned by her inspiring experiences of Christianity in Uganda and South Sudan during trips with Christ Church Winchester that truly clarified her future in ministry. Support from the Diocese through the Winchester School of Mission then made it possible for her to fulfill both her calling to ministry as well as her vocation as a mum.
As Jemima goes on to serve Kings Worthy and Headbourne Worthy parishes, she intends to continue her role of attentive listening, and being a support and voice for women in the Church.
Liz Williams, St Luke’s Hedge End,
Throughout her career Liz Williams 62 has been inspired by her faith and has always wanted to serve people within the local community.
Initially Liz worked as a secretary for 17 years at a Southampton hospital, and after feeling a pull towards church she attempted ordination. However, it wasn’t the right time, and she went to study at Solent University to give herself a stronger educational foundation. After receiving her Master’s degree Liz decided to stay at the university to offer student support after she recognised a need for someone to bridge the communicative gap between students and the academics. During her time as a student support worker Liz enjoyed building relationships and being a mediator for those who struggled to communicate.
Liz later went to work in student support in two FE colleges, and now also volunteers as a police chaplain in a station in Southampton as part of a team offering multi-faith support to police officers. As a police chaplain Liz and the team provides the officers with an outlet, and a space for them to be open with their thoughts and feelings. Liz finds the work incredibly valuable and learnt the importance of nurturing well-being.
Lead chaplain to Hampshire Constabulary, Revd Dom Jones, says, “I wish we had more people like Liz. You don’t need to be ordained to be a police chaplain and support the amazing work our police officers do on our behalf to keep us safe and protected. The fact that Liz is now ordained is a bonus to the team and I look forward to her continuing to offer the confidential listening ear that we are known for.”
While training for ordination, Liz has held onto the principles of chaplaincy, and is hoping her experience will not only translate into her parish work but help evolve Church practise.
Liz said: “I have always felt a pull towards service, to meeting people, thinking of others and coming alongside them. I am looking forward to working in the church and helping to resource people within the community.”
Liz will go on to serve St Luke’s, Hedge End and intends to continue to offer her parish support as a listener and facilitator.