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undefinedThis is the annual event for those who want to explore the various licensed ministries of Pastoral Worker, Reader and ordained ministry. It will take place on Saturday 24 January 2015, 10am to 2pm at Foxhill retreat and conference centre in Frodsham. Are you ready to take the first step to find your best way of deepening your service to God?

If so, then Called to Serve could be for you. It also has input from the Church Army and a Franciscan brother, and we are offering a free lunch. There will be plenty of opportunities for asking questions about the various forms of ministry.

If you would like to come email ddo@chester.anglican.org  or phone Anne Cody  01928 718834 ext 237 and you’ll be sent information and directions.  Booking is essential.  Closing date for bookings is Friday 19 December.

Here are three case studies from people who have benefitted from Called to Serve in the past.

Tracy Ward (pictured above), of Bramhall parish, tells how useful she found it ...  

"Hindsight is a wonderful thing! A day spent in Chester Cathedral at the 'Called to Serve' day was to be an important piece of the jigsaw in the big picture of God calling me to ministry.

It was a journey shaped and nurtured by parents, friends, the Church, life experiences and my faith. Looking back was a team effort! God worked in and through the whole of it to get me to the point where I could no longer ignore a call to seriously explore a role in ministry. What form that would take? I was initially unsure of that.

'Called to Serve' was an excellent way of informally meeting up and chatting with people experienced in various areas of ministry. People shared their insights and were willing to try to answer questions. They were supportive, encouraging and understanding about all my fears and doubts.

I came away from the day feeling energised and – while under no pressure to make definite decisions – encouraged to keep praying, asking questions and exploring.

My decision to explore the route to ordination was made months later. Called to Serve was an important part in affirming in me where I felt God was leading me.

I’m now in my second year of training with All Saints Centre for Mission and Ministry (diocesan regional training programme). I’m alongside other ordinands and Readers who are also grateful for all those who shared their own ministry experiences with us

The training is challenging and stimulating. There's lots of laughter and a few tears but I wouldn't change a thing."

* * *

Jo Rodman from Christ Church, Woodford, is one of ten new Readers to be admitted and licensed this year. She writes …

"I first had a sense of God calling me to a specific ministry back in my student days but it has taken 15 years for that to be realised.  When my three little boys arrived in quick succession a few years ago, I became involved in children’s ministry at my local parish church in Woodford.

After a while I had some opportunities to do bits and bobs ‘from the front’ in our services – children’s slots and so on – and to help plan and design all-age worship. Encouraged by my incumbent, I enjoyed this responsibility very much and it felt comfortable, as if the coat I was trying on fitted well. But in my mind I still didn’t connect this work with Reader ministry.

I embarked on Foundations for Ministry in order to explore further my possible calling and found this course immensely stimulating and helpful. By the end of the first term I felt very drawn to Reader ministry, but also – despite generally being a confident person – very inadequate and a bit silly for thinking that I may be suitable for an official licensed ministry in the Church of England.

In the January I went along to Called to Serve at the cathedral. After an initial session where different ministries were described and people currently involved in them were interviewed, there was a chance to attend two of a choice of workshops, each focusing in a small group environment on a different ministry.

The people there were extremely friendly and helpful and the day served only to confirm what by now was fixed firmly in my mind – that training as a Reader would not take me away from my involvement with children and young people, but rather it would deepen my skills and experience and enhance my involvement in this (and other) areas of church life.”

* * *

Pauline Hayward, our former Lay Training Course Administrator, writes ...

"I’d been receiving ‘whisperings’ that I should consider training as a licensed lay Reader.  Whenever it was mentioned I felt ‘queasy’ but would then think of Jonah when he was called – I should be confident that if the Lord was calling me to such a ministry He would give me the confidence I seemed to lack.

I met Veronica Johnson at a reception.  We chatted through my apparent call to Reader training.  She gently talked me through an option: Pastoral Worker training – Veronica was the Pastoral Worker Warden at that time.

The annual Called to Serve event was near so I went.  I’m so glad I did!  I chose to join the Reader and Pastoral Worker workshops – and guess what?  The Pastoral Worker experience filled me with excitement, joy and confidence so this was my calling.  I have completed the three-year training and as I write this I’m preparing to be licensed as a Pastoral Worker."

Above - Jo Rodman

Below - Pauline Hayward