A FORMER professional scuba diver along with teachers, lawyers, and youth workers are among the 22 people ordained deacons in special services on Saturday (June 30).
For the first time the ordination services were live-streamed on Facebook. This meant that people all over the world, who couldn’t be at Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral, could watch. The stream had thousands of views and hundreds of people posted positive comments.
“If the Church of God in our generation can take up the towel and do what Jesus did, then perhaps there will still be a Church in 100 years’ time,” said the Rt Revd Alan Wilson, preaching at the morning service, when the deacons who will serve in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire were ordained. Bishop Alan encouraged the ordinands using the story of Jesus serving his disciples by washing their feet.
The Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, the Bishop of Dorchester, talked of the challenges the impact of austerity presents to the Church. “With the challenges come fresh opportunities and I think it’s an important and exciting time to be ordained,” said Bishop Colin, preaching at the afternoon service, when deacons who will serve in Oxford and Dorchester were ordained.
The sun was shining all day and after each service, the ordinands processed out of the cathedral, behind the bishops and other senior clergy into the historic and beautiful Tom Quad for photographs. There they could be re-united with family and friends after three days on a pre-ordination retreat.
The Revd Phil Price, who will serve at St Peter’s, Earley, said: “After moving to a new house, to have three days to be quiet and think about what was about to happen was just amazing. The ordination was emotional. It is hard to describe how it felt but it was of those moments you will remember for the rest of your life.”
The Revd Andy Gosler, who will serve in Marston and Elsfield, said: “There is so much going on. I am non-stipendiary [an ordained minister who isn’t paid a stipend] so won’t be giving up my day job as an academic. The most important thing for me is to work out how to be a minister in my workplace and in the Church. I’d ask for prayer for 27 hours in the day.”
The Revd Sarah Nesbitt, who will serve in Shiplake, said leaving the retreat and entering the cathedral took her breath away. “I thought to myself I’m here and I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be. My hopes are that I will get to meet as many people as possible, that I’d get to know people and serve them in the name of Christ.”
The Revd Gemma Beesley, who will serve in Cowley, Oxford, said: “I felt God was calling me to Cowley. It’s diverse. I grew up in Milton Keynes and it’s a bit like that so I feel like I’m going back to my routes, even though it’s a different place. I’m really looking forward to being with people. There are 29,000 people where I am moving to compared to 1,500 where I have come from.”
Listen to some of our newly ordained deacons share their hopes and prayers for the year ahead. Readers can also view the full photo gallery from both services on our Facebook page.
Below are details of the candidates, where they are to serve and a brief biography of each one.
Hannah Akibo Betts – Bletchley
Paul Pavlou – Bletchley
Nigel Spoor – Prestwood
Michael Wilcockson – Eton College
Natalie Worsfold – High Wycombe
Kevin Colyer – Furze Platt
Kvetoslav Krejci – Reading St Giles
Leonard Onugh – Thatcham
Philip Price – St Peter’s, Earley
Gemma Wilkinson – Finchampstead and California
Susan Templeton – St James’, Southlake
Benjamin Baker – St Mary’s, Headington
Gemma Beesley – St James’, Cowley
James Dwyer – St Andrew’s, Oxford
Susan Gillingham – St Barnabas with Sat Paul with St Thomas the Martyr, Oxford
Andrew Gosler – Marston with Elsfield
Christopher Ashton – Burford with Fulbrook, Taynton, Asthall, Swinbrook and Widford
Toby Artis – Chipping Norton Benefice
Sarah Nesbitt – Shiplake with Dunsden and Harpsden
Oliver Strange – Burford with Fulbrook, Taynton, Swinbrook and Widford
Paul Walker – Great Faringdon with Little Coxwell
Experiencing God in the centre of his call on my life and allowing him to direct, lead and educate has been and will continue to be an amazing journey. In pursuing his answers to my prayers for my own will, I learnt and am learning to do his will.
My family and I were originally living in North London. Since then we have moved to Cambridge for theological college and have now ventured into Milton Keynes. We are incredibly excited to see what God has in store for us during my curacy.
“But I’m too old,” was my response when my vicar asked me if I’d ever considered ordination. I was surprised and delighted to find that I wasn’t, and after 40 years in the legal profession I now look forward to new joys and challenges in serving Christ and the Church.
Michael Wilcockson has been a teacher since 1982 and a licensed lay minister since 1992. He was appointed Head of Divinity at Eton College in 1996 and in 2012 became the college’s first Head of Philosophy. He is a senior A Level religious studies examiner and has written over 25 text books.
Having been drawn to faith in my teens the journey to ordination has built slowly. I spent many years in leadership roles within large retail IT departments before starting training. My prayer is that I will be able to serve the community of Micklefield and Marsh with the love and hope that Christ brings.
Kevin Colyer is married to Nicki with four children. He worked with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in the UK and Belgium before the call to Pioneer Anglican Ministry. He started missional communities and has planted one or two fresh expressions. He loves Belgian beer, computers, running, and weird electronic music.
After two decades as a city firm solicitor, Dr Kvetoslav Tomas Krejci read theology at Oxford and trained for ministry at St Stephen’s House. Born in Prague and at home within the catholic tradition of the Church of England, he will serve his post as a self-supporting curate at St-Giles-in-Reading.
I look forward to new adventures with Jesus. Born into a wonderful family but raised under tyrants in a ‘fairy-tale’ neighbourhood, I have gone on to be arrested for holding a prayer meeting in one country, before spending years preaching the Gospel undercover whilst moonlighting as a business executive in another. Whatever next Lord?
Phil will be taking up the role of Curate at St Peter’s Earley. He is married to Esther and they have two children, Amelia, seven, and Magdalena, four. Before training for ordination, he was a professional fundraiser for various charities including Age UK, the MS Society and the MND Association.
Originally from the Midlands, Gemma trained for ministry at Ripon College Cuddesdon. Previously Gemma was a youth and children’s worker in Newbury. She remains interested in the benefits of All-Age worship and developing intergenerational relationships. In her spare time Gemma likes to make things.
Susie is joining Oxford Diocese from Portsmouth as a pioneer minister and previously worked with Royal Navy Chaplaincy. She has professional experience in video production, cake decoration and SCUBA diving. Having travelled widely, she loves Indonesia – particularly the food, but is now looking forward to a new adventure in Reading.
Chris is married to Jessie and the couple have two children, Frazer, seven, Bethany, three and are expecting a third. Chris has been on a unique route through training, combining the rigours of boarding school and chaplaincy life with mixed mode training at Wycliffe Hall. They will continue their role in school and chaplaincy, alongside taking up a part-time curacy role at Burford.
Before training, Ben worked as a children’s and youth worker in Birmingham, having come to faith in his teenage years. This passion for working with young people will continue into his future ministry. He is married to Johanna, a doctor, and the couple enjoy travelling, the outdoors, and film.
God called me to ordination from my baptism in the river Cherwell in 2009. I am looking forward to getting my feet wet again as I step out of the boat, and pray that God will use me to bring light, hope and joy to the people of Cowley.
James Dwyer I’m delighted and humbled to be serving my curacy at St Andrew’s, North Oxford. Before training for ministry, I worked in journalism and communications, and have a heart to see people grow as lifelong disciples of Jesus. I’m married to Cheryl and we have two boys, Toby and Joel.
Susan Gillingham I am at present a licensed LLM and I shall be ordained to the Permanent Diaconate to serve at Worcester College Chapel, Oxford University, and at St Barnabas Church, Jericho, Oxford. Initially my ministry will focus on preaching, teaching, and leading non-eucharistic services. There will be some pastoral ministry when required.
Teaching ornithology, ecology, evolution, ethnobiology and biological conservation through a joint appointment between the School of Anthropology and Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford, Andy Gosler is Associate Professor in Applied Ethnobiology and Conservation. He is Research Director of EWA, the Ethno-Ornithology World Archive, and Co-convenor of OxPeace.
Toby Artis I have just finished training at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield. I’m very much looking forward to getting involved in the community, in and around Chipping Norton, to serve as assistant curate with my wife Emma. I love drumming, skiing and windsurfing, and before I began training I appeared on an episode of Bargain Hunt, and won.
Sarah Nesbitt Andrew and I have been married for 31 years and have two grown-up sons. As a Street Pastor and churchwarden, I finally engaged fully with my calling and am delighted to be moving into the next stage of this amazing journey with Robert and his team.
Oliver Strange I am very much a philologist – a lover of words. I love languages and word origins, and I speak Welsh, Russian and a smattering of a few others, like Greek and Hebrew, which have seriously helped me as a lover not just of words, but also of The Word.
Paul Walker Paul was brought up in West London and became a Christian as he was preparing to get married. He previously taught in a secondary school and his interests include history, music, current and foreign affairs. Paul enjoys cycling, walking, reading and playing the piano.