The Zimbabwean Mothers’ Union choir raise the roof

ELEVEN new Lay Ministers were licensed to serve in churches across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire on Saturday (November 4).

There was dancing in the aisles as a Zimbabwean Mother’s Union choir provided lively, rousing worship during the annual service at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.

Below are brief biographies of each of our new LLMs.

Hannah Akibo-Betts – to serve at St Mary’s, Bletchley

Born into a practicing Christian Family, I experienced God aged 12. The experience left me two things: a sense of calling though not knowing what it meant for me; and a love for praying and worshipping. Answering the call has been long and educative culminating in becoming an LLM.

Anne Curtis – to serve at St John the Baptist, Kingston Bagpuize with Fyfield and Tubney

I read Natural Sciences at Queens’ College, Cambridge. Married with two daughters, I now work as a Maths and Physics teacher at Greenes’ Tutorial College, Oxford. I worship at St John the Baptist, Kingston Bagpuize with Southmoor. I am honoured to become a Licensed Lay Minister within my welcoming, supportive and active community.

Joel Denno – to serve at St Nicholas’s Marston and St Thomas Canterbury, Elsfield

I’ve been thinking about lay ministry since my wife, Skye, was ordained in 2008. I’m a stay-at-home dad and now that our youngest is at school I have more time to spend on church activities. As my involvement has increased, I’ve been able to give more thought to what God is calling me to do. Currently, Skye and I are serving in Old Marston and Elsfield, having moved here in May of this year. I’m excited about my licensing, which feels like the next big step in my journey.

Marian Dickinson

I returned to Christ some 20 years ago while working in the City and became more involved in my parish of Little Missenden when I gave up work.  The vicar suggested I thought about lay ministry and though I initially had no interest I eventually received my call from God to take this path.  I have been married to Peter for 26 years and he has been very supportive during my training.  I have two wonderful stepchildren and five grandchildren.

Meghann Hewett to serve at St Mary’s, Kidlington

I worship in the Parish of Kidlington with Hampton Poyle. I am married to David and have two boys, Joshua, eight, and Isaac, six. I am also a teacher at the Henry Box School in Witney where I teach RE and Psychology. I am particularly looking forward to my ministry with baptism families after I am licensed.

Alexandra Hewett

I worship at St Mary the Virgin, Wheatley where I’ve been the Director of Music for 13 years. My main job is in maths education, supporting A-level teachers and students. I met my husband Ed doing a production of ‘Godspell’ and we enjoy making music together, both sacred and secular.

Graham King, to serve at St John the Evangelist, Lacey Green

I was blessed in being born into a Christian family and so attending Church has been part of my life since childhood. University provided an opportunity to re-examine my faith but, in fact, strengthened it. Since then, I have attended my current church for 30 years being involved in various roles but during recent years, I have experienced a stronger calling to ministry. With retirement looming, I will have more time to develop my ministry and I pray that I will be an additional resource for mission and service in our parish and local community.

Alison Lockhart, to serve at St James, Cowley

I was created decades ago; born again by the spirit and blood of Jesus; rebellion; restored by the loving kindness of the Father; ‘life doesn’t get any easier, but it does get sweeter’; as Colossians 3:11 says ‘there is only Christ’ (Jerusalem Bible). I work as a psychiatric nurse and love skiing.

Rainah Madzorera – to serve at St Mary the Virgin, Aylesbury

Rainah was born in Zimbabwe to Christian parents.  She was brought up under faithful preaching and catechising. She was educated at an Anglican Primary School and Roman Catholic Secondary School. She is married to Herbert and the couple are blessed with two daughters, Lesley and Lily.  Trained as a teacher then as a nurse, Rainah holds a B. Ed and M.Ed in Education and B.Sc in Mental Health. It was at secondary school, that Rainah started battling with the call to serve God. Following her marriage she served as a sub-deacon in Zimbabwe before relocating to the United Kingdom. Here she was delighted to re-establish her ministry at St Mary the Virgin in Aylesbury where she now serves as a Licensed Lay Minister. Her greatest enjoyment is serving God, being with family, friends, working, attending leisure activities and she loves reading.

Richard Simmonds to serve at St John the Baptist, Cookham

It is an enormous privilege to be licensed as an LLM at my advanced age (73) in the parish where my grandfather was vicar. I have farmed here all my life and practised my faith in a long political career. My only regret is that I did not respond to a call 25 years ago, and I urge others not to make the same error.

Elaine Watts – to serve at St Peter’s, Earley

Born and brought up in north Wales, I gained a degree in Biological Sciences from London University – and a husband. Following my doctorate I became a researcher at Imperial College until our children were born.  Believing that I could only do one job successfully I became a full-time mother. I soon got drawn in to the life of the church and have served in many roles, most recently as parish administrator. I became aware that God was calling me and after many years of searching and journeying I am looking forward to “reaching out and telling the story” to all the people in our parish.