God in the life of Martin Gorick

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The Ven Martin Gorick is delighted to have returned to the Diocese to become Archdeacon of Oxford. He talks to Jo Duckles.Martin MW5A1400

The Venerable Martin Gorick is delighted to have returned to the Diocese to become Archdeacon of Oxford.

He moved here in May and I caught up with him as he was settling into his new home within the grounds of Christ Church College in the centre of the city. Readers may remember Martin from his first stint here, as Chaplain to the then Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, who is now known as Lord Harries of Pentregarth.

Martin was born in Liverpool in 1962 at the height of Beatlemania. Depsite moving to Nottingham, where he grew up, he has always had an affinity with his home town and been a lifelong supporter of Liverpool Football Club, though he supports Notts County too.

He grew up in a church-going Christian family with an older sister and younger brother. “Faith was something real and talked about and there was plenty of discussion and freedom for you to go your own way,” says Martin, who first felt a call to the priesthood when he was 11. He describes his teenage years as troubled. “I had some really difficult experiences and although God felt real in my life, I felt like I was cut off from him really.” All thoughts of ordination disappeared until a number of years later when Martin had a profound experience during an evening communion service. “To my amazement I felt completely forgiven and that feeling of forgiveness was still there again the next morning and the next morning, and my life began again. It was a real experience of being born again in a very traditional church. Once I got over that wonderful experience I felt there was nothing I could do except to give my life to Christ, whatever that would mean.”

Martin’s parents were teachers and his father became a lay reader while he was at school. Both were later ordained. His wife Katharine’s father was a bishop, which meant that when Martin himself was ordained, there was already a priest, a deacon and a bishop in the family!

Before reading Theology and Religious Studies at Selwyn College, Cambridge, Martin spent a year exploring Christian community in Bermondsey in London while working as a porter at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. In the summer he worked at Scargill House, a Christian retreat centre in the Yorkshire Dales, where he met Katharine.

After Cambridge another year out saw Martin working in a black forest gateaux factory while living in a converted hay loft over some medieval stables, before moving to Ripon College, Cuddesdon in 1985 where he trained to be a priest while Katharine trained to be a teacher of the deaf at the former Lady Spencer Churchill College in Wheatley, which is now part of Brookes University. She is also a qualified Teacher of the Visually Impaired and will be heading up the VI team in Oxfordshire from September.

After a curacy in Tyne and Wear, Martin became Chaplain to the Bishop of Oxford. “I came to meet him and ended up coming here from 1991 to 1994. I remember working in Diocesan Church House before it had its extension and it was before emails. There was a mountain of paper correspondence to deal with every morning.

“It was a fascinating job once you got on top of the paperwork though. I enjoyed working with Bishop Richard, a person I grew to value very much. There was always variety. In my first week in the job we had the Newsnight cameras in for a full debate about the Gulf War, with Bishop Richard pitched against Rowan Williams, one of my old tutors from Cambridge.”

From here Martin moved to Smethwick, in 1994, an urban priority area in the West Midlands – an ethnically mixed place with significant deprivation, where Martin was Vicar and later Area Dean. He moved on to Stratford-upon-Avon in 2001, during a period when the population grew from 13,000 to 17,000. The parish church is internationally famous for being the burial place of William Shakespeare, his wife and one of his daughters, and attracts over a quarter of a million visitors every year.

“I’ve been fortunate to have had first-hand experience of inner urban ministry, as well as civic church ministry and rural ministry. Fostering vocations has always been something I have enjoyed. We had a number of ordinands from Stratford go forward for ordination and also had a pioneer lay minister with whom I was able to launch a community church in an area of new housing,” says Martin.

After 12 years, Martin felt it was time for a new challenge and that God was calling him to move on if the right opportunity arose. “When I saw this job advertised I felt called to apply and was delighted to be appointed. It has three sides to it: being Canon of Christ Church and an active part of the worshipping life of the cathedral and the governing body of the college; being Archdeacon, sharing in the leadership of the diocese, but primarily working in the Oxford and Cowley deaneries; and thirdly I have responsibility across the diocese for three areas, interfaith relations, sector chaplains (hospital, prison, school and university chaplains) and for new communities.”

Martin and Katharine married in 1985 and have three children, Sam, 21, Lydia, 19 and Anna, 16.

July/August 2013

This is an older post. Please note that the information may not be accurate anymore.