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Ruth’s article in the June Diary May 28, 2021

Posted by nicholastufton in The Diary Monthly letter.
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I was sitting in the bank, waiting for a call to go through to confirm my identity. The bank assistant was a charming young woman well trained in keeping her customers calm and engaged as the phone rang incessantly. “We are sorry to keep you waiting, your call is important to us!”

“Why did you become a vicar”- she asked! I told her it was a sense of answering God’s call, that it was about being the person I was meant to be, about doing a job where I felt most myself. I told her how I had needed to wait from the initial sense of calling aged 15 for another twenty-two years until women could be ordained as priests. “We are sorry to keep you waiting!”

In 1994 the first women were ordained as priests in the Church of England and from then on, both men and women have answered that call from God to ministry in the church as priests and deacons. This month we will celebrate our curate Sarah’s call to ministry and her ordination as a priest. This year we will welcome Bishop Michael to ordain Sarah Richardson (our curate) here in Barkway.

In the bank the telephone ring tone went on and on – I found myself apologising that the church had not always got things right – we have made mistakes in safeguarding, in racism, in inclusion of those who are of different sexual orientation. We have made great strides forward in some areas and there is still work to do in others.  We need to be honest about our failures as a church.

 “Priests are called to be servants and shepherds among the people to whom they are sent.“* *from the Common worship service of ordination of priests.

This ministry of leadership in the church is to serve others, to care pastorally for the people who live in these villages, and further afield. It is to delight in each person God has made, to open up the scriptures and to pronounce forgiveness, healing and hope. Priests are to bless in God’s name and to pray for all in need.

It is a joy and privilege to live this life, and to minister here amongst you all, to serve you and to care for you. I was conscious of all of this as I sat in the bank. As I listened over and over again to the phone message, “We are sorry to keep you waiting, your call is important to us,” I prayed that the Church of England would not keep us waiting too long to see a more inclusive, welcoming church and that we would say to Sarah as she is ordained, “Your call is important to us.” 

Ruth

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