New Deacons’ tales
David Sheppard went to church as a child. As a teenager he attended a youth group led by the poet and singer/songwriter Revd Malcolm Guite, now a friend of thirty years, who came to his ordination. Malcolm’s recollection of him was that he was the one who asked a lot of questions. Skip a few decades, and David is ordained at St Albans Cathedral, the story of those intervening decades is most interesting.
David says that as a teenager and an adult he was “definitely an atheist,” although he adds, “but I took my son to church at Christmas and Easter.” His son joined the church choir and David faithfully went to services where his son sang.
He found himself drawn to aspects of the services, especially the prayers of penitence. He had no antipathy towards the church but would only go when his son was singing, which was fine until he found himself wanting to go to other services. David eventually found and confessed his faith in God, but worried that regular worshippers would ask him what he was doing in church when his son wasn’t singing. This fear proved unfounded but took some time to overcome. David, who had a career as a teacher, believes God intended him to be an atheist for those years. “God was behind the hedge,” he says, with feeling.
David is serving his title at St Mary’s Church, Ware.
Kate McFarlane (on left of picture) always said to herself that she wouldn’t leave the Roman Catholic church just to be ordained. She had felt a strong sense of God’s call in her life since the age of 11, though this was at that time not necessarily a call to ordained ministry.
At that young age, she lost her grandmother, with whom she lived. She describes her powerful sense at that time of sitting in church and felling held and loved by God. She describes this as her call.
Many years later, the call had matured into a vocation as a lay chaplain and mentor at a secondary school in Cambridge, St Bede’s, an interchurch school as well as a spell in Justice and Peace work, “trying to make good news for the poor a reality,” she says.
A house move to Ampthill, Beds, brought a search for a new church and the nearest church to where they lived which they found nourishing and nurturing turned out to be Anglican.
By now, in a career break with very young family, the sense of vocation to ordination began to grow. It was, by God’s grace, now entirely natural to seek ordination in the Anglican church. Kate says her ordination for her is about making that sense of being held and loved by God real for others.
Kate is serving her title in Marston Morteyne, Beds.