Sometimes it’s only in looking back that you see God’s hand has been on your life the whole time. From a very early age I loved church – I used to plead with my mum to take me to the evening service; listened to the inspired preaching of the Revd Stanley Voke, and enjoyed singing – my favourite being number 426 from the Green Baptist Book ‘And Can it be’. Fast forward a few years and my passions are inspired, applied bible teaching and worship with a dose of transforming mission thrown in for good measure.
I was just approaching my 18th birthday when I sensed that God had something particular lined up for me –
I was almost involved in a very serious accident on my bike and began to ask “Why has God kept me alive?”
I changed direction and decided to study theology at London School of Theology (then LBC); subsequent to that I worked for four years for UCCF developing skills in teaching, training, leadership and pastoral care among students. Towards the end of this period I felt a particular call to consider Baptist ministry. I began to follow the process with my church and the London Baptist Association culminating in training at Spurgeon’s and a MTh from Heythrop College, London.
The end of this period was one of the most painful times in terms of my gender. I was well into the process of being called to a London church when a bunch of people seriously questioned women in leadership. This torpedoed the process completely. The church leadership were brilliant in a very damaging time and only a few years later sent their first woman for training, but that was not to be my home!
After a tough few months I was called as Associate Minister to work with John Lewis in Skipton, N Yorkshire. It was two great years learning and growing. John treated me as an equal and was always encouraging and affirming with a clear view of God’s future for me. After he left I had a year on my own and then another senior colleague, Rob Harris, for the next 16 years. Time to move on maybe?? It seemed that God had other ideas and after due process the church called me to be the Lead Minister in 2013.
This last five years have been a really fruitful time for the church, building on what has gone before – our team has grown and been a huge encouragement, we are increasingly engaged in our community and have seen people coming to Christ.
I have appreciated being able to serve the church beyond Skipton on the leadership of Spring Harvest, speaking at church weekends and regional events.
The key lessons I guess have been to be secure in your own identity in Christ – to be the best version of you that is possible, not defined by others’ expectations. Timing of how things work out for women is often a little different (slower) than for men for a number of reasons (I had two children and of course that impacts!)
The other thing would be to deal with disappointments or prejudice before God and with grace. Try not to carry baggage with you as it will impact the effectiveness of the ministry God has called you to.
: Spring Harvest