New deacons ready for new challenges and next steps ahead
Three curates from within the Black Country have been ordained as deacons to serve parishes within the Diocese of Worcester.
Rachel Homer, Val Houghton and Norman Jevons have joined seven other candidates in taking on the roles as part of a new training pathway aimed at those who see their vocation as being non-stipendiary (voluntary) ministers to churches in their local area.
Rachel Homer will serve in the Halas Team, covering churches in Halesowen, Val Houghton will serve in the benefice of Brierley Hill and Norman Jevons will be part of two areas, serving in the benefice of Darby End and Netherton and the benefice of Dudley Wood and Cradley Heath.
All those being ordained have already been involved in some kind of lay ministry within their parish and were nominated by their incumbents to be part of the two-year training scheme and are currently at the start of their second year of this.
They will continue training while also working in their parishes as a curate, with all three talking about their pride at taking on their new roles.
Rachel Homer said: "I was born and have been raised in the West Midlands attending a Pentecostal Church with my parents from the age of two.
"I made my own personal commitment to God aged eight and was baptised at age 18.
"Over the years I have had many roles in church from youth leader to worship leader, a role I took from age 12 until I was into my 30s.
"Each of these roles, including working as a teacher and Deputy Head in a local Church of England Primary has helped me reach the point of ordination.
"Following a brain injury which left me unable to work, the pandemic during which my father and my mother-in-law passed away, I realised I was returning into a world which was totally unlike anything I had thought I would be living, despite a constant, unexpected inner peace.
"Then in 2022, Rev. Hazel told me of a new ‘auxiliary’ pathway, which she believed was something I should be a part of.
"In that moment, a nagging calling to ministry which I had some 10 years ago resurfaced and suddenly I knew what God wanted me to do.
"Although the discernment and training has not been easy, I have had tremendous support from family and friends, and I have been blessed beyond measure as God has revealed his plan for my life."
Val Houghton said: "I have lived and worked all of my life in the Black Country.
"Since retiring I have served in the Brierley Hill Team as a Licensed Lay Minister (Reader) for the past eight years.
"Through the grace of God, I now find myself being ordained to continue to serve God in my home community.
"This great gift has come through the Auxiliary Pathway to ordination. It has been a life changing and life transforming year of training and discernment.
"I am looking to serving in the Team Ministry as a deacon and to continuing the Auxiliary Pathway training.
Norman Jevons said: "I'm really pleased to be ordained Deacon and serving within the Forge Group of Churches.
"Over the years, I have experienced a deep and abiding love for God and sought to serve him and the church using those gifts I possess; Chorister, Churchwarden, Licensed Lay Minister for 17 years - leading worship and working with some truly gifted priests and other LLMs over that time.
"However, in more recent times words spoken to me by others opened up a different path for me, that of the Auxiliary Pathway and, through discernment, training and a Bishop’s Advisory Panel I have been accepted for Ordination, which is for me both a delight and a new way of living out God's call for me.
"I hope and pray that this different ministry will be as rewarding as all those I have previously exercised."
The ordination services on Sunday, September 24 were led by the Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge and candidates were ordained by the Bishop of Dudley, Martin Gorick, while the Archdeacon of Worcester, Robert Jones, preached having led a quiet day for the candidates ahead of their ordination.
Bishop Inge said: “This is a very exciting time in the life of the diocese of Worcester when we ordain more people as deacon on one occasion than has happened for a long time, possibly ever.
"Those to be ordained, who have worked very hard in preparation, will be a great blessing to the church and to the world and I pray for God’s rich blessing on their future ministry.”