When Andrew Bradley-Gibbons felt God calling him to ordained ministry he responded enthusiastically. However, it wasn't meant to be - at least not yet. This is his story of a personal journey responding to God's call.
If you want to explore where God could be calling you in 2023, help is on hand. The next diocesan vocation day, Called to Serve, is taking place on Saturday 04 February at Foxhill. The event is an invitation to explore God’s call on your life. Support, guidance, and prayer are all part of the process and will be readily available to you, and asking questions, no matter how small, is encouraged. Register here.
By Andrew Bradley-Gibbons, Reader
The actor and writer, Angel Moreira, was once quoted as saying, “In life, when God calls you, all you have to do is answer.” I am writing this piece to explain to you that I would add a follow-up to this quote and say, “if only it were that easy."
My personal journey of a calling from God began ten years ago with first attending church and then being encouraged by my incumbent, the Revd Beth Glover, and the congregation to attend the midweek “Alpha” course that had begun only a few weeks prior. From this point on, having tried to absorb as much of this course as I could, I then found myself on the way to attending the diocesan Foundations for Ministry course which opened my thinking and understanding of the wider Christian faith including styles of worship, types of services and the many ways in which God was active in different parishes.
"Then I was hit with the devastating outcome"
Andrew is an NHS Charge Nurse and has recently felt God call him to ordained minstry
Following my completion of this course, and after conversations with my incumbent, I then began speaking with the Diocesan Director of Vocations about this feeling I had to serve God in a ministerial capacity, exactly how yet wasn’t particularly clear but I knew I had to continue exploring. During the following twelve-month period after discerning that ordination may be my calling, I got to the point of attending the local selection panel, all with the certainty that I would be successful because it was my calling to serve. Then I was hit with the devastating outcome of the panel’s decision, the feedback was “not yet” when it came to moving me forward in training.
"Over the past ten years, I have laughed, cried, learnt, developed"
Then I remember that two days after the panel I got a call from my Incumbent asking if I could attend an interview for Lay Reader training in two days’ time!!! Well, I thought ok then, but if God wants me, he’s getting the real me and if it's not meant to be then I was never called to be in a ministry role at all. Then, to my delight, I received a call that my selection interview had gone really well, and I was to start training in the next intake.
Since that first day of training, I have never looked back, I have gained my license, two further degrees under the stewardship of the Revd Liz Shercliff, diocesan Director of Readers, and her amazing colleagues, as well as gaining experience in so many different situations. My incumbent and church are shaping my pathway moving forward, my day job as a nurse manager has also led to me joining the hospital chaplaincy team, all giving me the growth and knowledge that God requires for holding a ministerial role. However, the most important lesson I have gained is that any call to serve is not just about holding the right qualification, undertaking a certain number of services, or gaining enough experience, it's also about living your life truly and authentically in service to God. One of our greatest privileges [as a Reader] is bridging the gap at Communion between the altar and the congregation through the gift of service God has bestowed upon us. We need to allow others in our community to not only hear our commitment to God through words but, more importantly, see our commitment through our actions. God is active in all of us, his light shines through love, and it is up to us as his called people to flood the darkness!
So, if I were to sum up my journey of calling so far, I would use the following words: exciting, hard work, stressful, demanding, a commitment, and God-authorised. Over the past ten years, I have laughed, cried, learnt, developed, and grown and I would absolutely recommend to anyone that if God is calling, then answer!
I am still unsure what God has in store next for me, I hope to still be ordained but only time (his time not mine) will reveal. I have a loving church family around me, a spiritual director, and a handful of trusted friends who will guide me through. My feeling of a calling has always been strong, and never gone away, even though at times I may have wished it had! I believe God calls us to serve because of who we are, not who we may think he wants us to be. God knows the real authentic us and uses the skills we possess for the good of his people. Don’t be afraid to shine.
Supporting you to follow God's call
If you want to explore where God could be calling you in 2023, help is on hand. The Director of Vocations in the Diocese of Chester is the Revd Canon Sarah Fenby, and she would love to talk to you if you are sensing God's call into lay or ordained ministries. You can email her DDV@chester.anglican.org.
Called to Serve
The next diocesan vocation day, Called to Serve, is taking place on Saturday 04 February at Foxhill. The event is an invitation to explore God’s call on your life. This is now fully booked, but you can still join the waiting list in case a space becomes available. Join the waiting list.
Foundations for Ministry
If you are want to go deeper in your exploration and understanding of the Christian faith in support of a calling inside or out of the Church, you might want to consider the Foundations for Ministry course from the Diocese of Chester. Click to find out more.
Where is God calling you in 2023?
In this episode of the Chester Box Podcast, Bishops Mark, Julie, and Sam reflect on how they recognise God's call in their own lives and how they encourage others to recognise it in theirs. Listen to the bishops.