Meet Our New Revs 2021 - Part 2

First published on: 15th July 2021

Read the final group of interviews with our new deacons below. If you missed part one last week, catch up here

Rev Jenny Hardy  - St James in the City

I've been 'born n' bred' in Liverpool. Growing up had a lot of challenges for me, I had my first child, my daughter when I was just 17 but continued to struggle with my mental health and misuse of drugs and alcohol.  When I was 19 God met me in my brokenness and spoke to me and my life began to change. I had my son in 2008 and a year later confirmed my faith and was transformed by God's love, grace and mercy which was when I first felt a particular call to ministry.  I've worked as a barmaid, waitress, hotel receptionist and cleaner, more recently before training for ordination I was a resource manager in a recruitment agency and a community Pastor in Kensington, Liverpool.

As soon as I became a Christian I felt like I'd finally found what I'd been looking for, a purpose and all I wanted to do was to serve God with all of my time. I never thought in a million years I'd ever get a dog collar. After some discernment with my Vicar, CPAS and Church Army, I thought perhaps I could be a prison chaplain if I got a theology degree! So I did an access course and degree at Liverpool Hope University.  For someone who had been expelled from one secondary school and did not apply myself in the next one, it turned out I was okay at academics. Since I became a Christian people would regularly question whether I would become a 'vicar' and I'd be like, "no way!"  Fast forward to another degree and a new job in a church, I continued to be asked if I would become a 'vicar', I'd mellowed slightly by this point and would just be like, "no".  A friend then had one of those clear 'God' dreams of me in vicar robes and one of my vicars annoyingly brought it up regularly too.  I managed to hold out another couple of years and then God got me all to Himself on retreat in Foxhill, I was literally the only one in the whole building! God spoke clearly to me while I was there from the moment I arrived and sighed into a comfy chair. As I listened to bird squawk un-endlessly, I suddenly had a thought, imagine God calling and calling and calling like that and not getting an answer, then the words of a worship song, "I surrender, Lord have your way in me" came to mind...that was just the beginning of my retreat, by the end I told God, boldly, I'd lay a 'fleece' before Him and that if three more people suggested I should be a vicar by the 30th of March, I'd push the door....and here I am! 

Isaiah 61:1-3 was 'my verse' from the beginning.  I always felt a strong calling to serve people on the margins, particularly people struggling with addictions, poor mental health and sex workers. 'To proclaim freedom to captives and release from darkness for prisoners'.  I love to go to dark corners and proclaim freedom to God's people and am always amazed and blessed as God meets with people and transforms lives.

I will be serving my curacy in St James in the City.  I'm looking forward to building on some of the work I've done there on my training placement with homeless people and our Love Your Neighbour hub we set up during the pandemic and building on those.  I'm also looking forward to being part of some families' ministry which we hope to grow over the next few years.  I haven't had much experience of funeral or wedding ministry yet so I'm also looking forward to doing some of this too.

My main hope for the future is that I can, 'run with perseverance the race marked out for [me], focussing [my] eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of [my] faith.'

God had a plan and purpose for my life.  I remember as a small child really trying to read the tiny text of the Bible.  I was drawn to God then and although my life was hard and messy, God had His way, eventually.  I'd just like to encourage anyone reading who may feel like God has this kind of particular plan for them, to push the door.

 

Rev Alison Carson – St Mark Haydock

I am a mum to three boys, now 36, 34 and 31, and Nana to 5 grandchildren.

Primary teacher (20 years) – I have worked with children with SEN for most of my career and was Inclusion Leader within a school.  I led a unit for children with moderate learning difficulties within a mainstream school for 10 years.

I began my journey towards ordination about 10 years ago with a desire to grow in spiritual gifts, especially prophecy and healing.  I became involved in Healing Rooms and Prophetic ministry and my relationship with the Lord deepened.  I felt called to step out and try new roles and responsibilities.  As I did this, I felt God’s pleasure.  I had a few years of saying yes to everything He asked me to do and this included preaching and leading services.  The challenge for me was about confidence in myself and in Him. 

He called me out of my teaching career and into training for ordained ministry.  An early experience was in a church in Portugal where the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said ‘my people are like sheep without a shepherd, will you pastor them?’

I am passionate about healing ministry and prayer ministry.  I believe that God still heals today and that he still works miracles, signs and wonders through His church.  I hope to help people to understand the work of the Holy Spirit better, and to enable them to hear God’s voice for themselves. 

I also passionate about pastoral care for those within the church and in the wider community.  I’m excited by the prospect of God using me to speak to people (especially women) in the community and use me in prayer ministry and pastoral situations to help people. 

I’ll be serving at St. Mark’s Haydock as an SSM, which has been my home church for the past 31+ years.  I’m looking forward to being part of the future plans to reach out to the community through TANGO+ which is about serving in practical ways such as Food Pantry, Debt Advice and Prayer support.  I’m looking forward to new experiences and learning such as leading baptisms and funerals. 

My hopes for the future are that I can serve God and the community of Haydock by bringing the gifts and skills that I have to offer.  I hope that I can work as part of a team to develop my leadership skills and abilities but also to grow others in their discipleship and encourage them to step out into God’s call on their lives.  I also want to get better at sharing my faith with non-Christians.  This is something I have grown more confident in through being part of a prophetic team that visit the Mind Body Spirit Fayres in the North West and share Jesus through prophetic ministry.  I hope that being visible in the community will give me opportunities to talk about Jesus.

I want to develop my own style of leadership and ministry; shaped by my experiences as a woman, a mother and a teacher.  I’m not sure that will differ from the male leaders I will be working with.

 

Rev Bec Hill – Christ Church Southport

Most of my previous experience has been in youth and community work. My first job was in the YMCA in Lincoln and I’ve worked for local authorities, charities and churches on helping young people to live up to their potential. I stopped work for a few years when my children were little to be at home with them and that was one of the richest learning experiences of my life. I went back into working for church when they started school and nursery and that is where I started to think seriously about ordination.

I have wanted to work in ministry for as long as I can remember, I was about six when I first started talking about being a vicar, I love working with people and how varied and interesting the work is but most of all I love seeing people change and grow as they get to know Jesus. 

I still love working with children and young people but I am particularly interested in planting new congregations and communities and equipping them to reach out. I love seeing the church get out there and do things in the community. It’s great when people get to see how fun the church is.

I will be serving in Christ Church Southport. I am looking forward to being near the sea, but I’m also really excited about how central the church is and being able to put things on right in the centre of town. I can’t wait to get to know people and see what God is doing in Southport.

 My hopes right now are to get stuck into life in Southport, meeting people and getting to know the place. Further on than that I hope to be involved in planting new congregations and seeing churches renewed. One of the things I’ve loved in training is how different traditions can be done really well and the richness that brings to worship. I’d love to see that worked out in the local church so that everyone can find a place to belong and connect with God.

 

Rev Neil Brunskill – Holy Trinity Southport 

It is difficult to separate my life and my calling. In many ways, my calling has always been a part of who I am. But I began exploring a vocation to the ordained life at a young age, first feeling a call to ordination at my Confirmation, aged 10. I began to test this calling from around the age of 16, and it has been a long process. Before training for ordination, I worked for Lloyds Banking Group, and completed a degree with Liverpool Hope University.  

For me, it is not what called me into ministry, but rather who. It is God who has called me into ministry to serve the Church of God, and his people. Similarly, the things that challenge me, also excite me and vice versa. For example, I am excited by the prospect of walking alongside those in need, assisting the dying and comforting the bereaved, but all of this comes with many challenges.

At the heart of my faith is sacramental worship. Meeting God in his Body and Blood refreshes us and calls Creation back to the loving arms of its Creator. The ability to lead in the sacramental ministry of a community is an immense gift from God. When life is providing so many challenges and we live through uncertain times – Christ present among us in the gift of the Eucharist is a steady, and constant assurance of his love.

I will be serving in the parishes of Holy Trinity, Southport and St Luke’s Southport. They are both amazing churches, with wonderful people and I am excited to be joining their communities. There are so many experiences and opportunities in both parishes, and I am looking forward to being a part of them. Ultimately, I am excited for the opportunity to share the Good News with the people of Southport.

My hope is to be a gift to those whom I serve and to be a good deacon and priest in God’s Church. A servant who, like the Virgin Mary, says “here I am, a servant of the Lord”.  It is my prayer, that I as I begin my ministry, I may be filled with the grace of God, now and throughout my ministry.  

 

Rev Rachel Bray – St Philip & St Paul with Wesley, Southport

I'm a Vicar’s kid, brought up in Toxteth where my dad was a vicar for over 20 years. I studied linguistics at York Uni. I've not had a career as such though I was an accountant in Birmingham for a few years. I did several years on church leadership teams in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I was a student rep for Wycliffe Bible translators after spending 3 months in Ghana wondering if God was calling me to overseas work. I had three children close together. One has Cystic fibrosis and CF related diabetes, and he and his twin are on the autistic spectrum. Early years were very tough and put paid to any possible jobs or career. I gradually started to be more involved in the church in Southport. One thing led to another...to being CofE church leader as LML alongside Methodist Minister for 4 years and now to being SSM curate.

Someone suggested that they thought God was calling me to ordination. I nearly fell off my sofa with shock as I was preparing to start as a Local Missional Leader (LML) which felt like my dream role! My experience of being called to ordination was the reverse of my call to being an LML. With LML I knew in an instant that God was calling me to the role, and then spent time testing it out with people. With ordination it was the opposite. Others could see it and I was the last person to see it. God was very patient with me with all my excuses. As a vicar’s kid, one thing I knew I never wanted to be was a vicar! However,  I now know he has called me and it is wonderful.

The missional opportunity we have with occasional offices to meet people where they are in their joys and sorrows and to share God’s love with them. Having contact with families with children and young people with additional needs as a result of my own experience. Working ecumenically having been in an Anglican/Methodist LEP for over 20 years.

St Philip and St Paul with Wesley, Southport (an Anglican/Methodist LEP). I’ve been the LML here for four and a half years so these next months with be a time of transition into the role of curate. I’m most looking forward to baptisms and to the new opportunities that being ordained will bring.

I hope that God will use me, my life experience and this unexpected calling to ordained ministry to help bring hope and healing to individuals, to the church and to our local community. 

 

Rev Heather Haddow – Christ Church Padgate

I grew up in Gloucestershire and I trained to be a primary teacher in my early twenties. For most of my teaching career I taught the younger age groups. I love the ability to live in the moment that children have!

When I first became a Christian I was drawn to ministry focussed around being out and about in the community. I will value forever being part of ‘Street Teams’ seeking to get to know those homeless or sofa surfing in the town centre. In ordained ministry, I hope to play my part in allowing the gospel to be visible and to bring hope into the world. 

In different aspects of ministry, I find myself drawn to those who are missing, perhaps feeling disqualified or disinterested.

My post is a pioneering curacy and we hope to join with others as they serve in and around the town centre. I am looking forward to learning from those more experienced at serving teenagers.

I hope that I will live by the psalm that reminds us that ‘unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted’.

 

Rev Claire Aldridge – St Bartholomew Roby

Prior to training for ordination, I was an Occupational Therapist working for the NHS I worked predominantly in elderly care and palliative care and laterally in the Community Falls team. I grew up in Hull in East Yorkshire and came to Liverpool in 1995 to study for my Occupational Therapy degree and loved the city so much I never went back. I'm married and have 3 children. 

The call to ministry took many years, many nudges, prompts and challenges from both God and friends. Growing from the quiet whispers of the Spirit in my ear as a teenager into overt suggestions from good friends as I turned 40! The call to ministry evolved from a growing sense that many of the people I met needed the wholeness and healing found in Christ. I felt God's call to begin to find ways to connect those of the edges of faith or society with the love of Christ that is central.

I'm most passionate about seeing the healing and wholeness that knowing Jesus brings. Recognising how that looks different for everyone and different from wellness too. I'm drawn to those who are on the edges of church who feel unwelcome or unable to attend regular worship, especially those who are older or unwell. I have experienced the healing in my own life that knowing Jesus makes and long to find ways to connect others with the transforming love of Jesus.

It will be my joy and privilege to serve in the parish of St Bartholomew, Roby and I can't wait to see where God will lead me and how he will challenge me in that place.

I'm challenged and excited to find ways to put a call to share Jesus into practice and use all the skills I have from my previous roles to find ways to invite people to be fed by him and experience the wholeness that his love offers.

 

Rev Debs Davies – St Helens Town Centre Team


Before training for ordination I served as worship pastor for a student church in Liverpool city centre. My passion for the local Church and my love for music have always gone hand-in-hand and I have a feeling they will continue to do so!

A friend once asked me when I was at a juncture in worship ministry, "So, you're going to carry on working for the church??" I knew there and then with absolute clarity that, of course I was! I couldn't think of anything I'd rather do. Needless to say, ordained ministry suddenly seemed a far less daunting prospect. I have found it challenging over recent years to juggle my personal life with ordination training and doctoral work. But God has taught me so much through this season. I've been blessed with wonderful family & friends and a church community who have held me up in prayer. I would not be here without them - and God's grace!

I'm most passionate about seeing people encounter the presence of God in worship - because encounter with Christ changes everything! I sometimes hear people say that they have never met with Christ in a tangible way, or they did once but it was a long time ago and now they're not sure if they really did. I think the Holy Spirit helps us take new steps of faith in worship and my favourite part of ministry is seeing people step out in faith, their lives and faces reflecting His glory.

I will be serving St Helens Parish Church in the town centre team. This is my home town, so I know it quite well! But I have been living away for ten years and have never served in a parish setting like this. I am really looking forward to meeting the local community and learning how Parish Church can be a hopeful presence in the town centre with hearts (and doors) wide open..!

I don't tend to make big plans or think too far ahead, but there are some things I can say I'm hoping for. On a personal level, I pray that I will never become lukewarm in my love for Jesus but grow in love, joy and faithfulness. I hope that I can encourage others to do the same. And in ministry, I love to hear the Word preached prophetically to each generation, so I hope the Church will increasingly do this and demonstrate the depths of God's grace in living, practical ways.

 


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