A new year is often time for reflection as we think about the year just passed and the 12 months to come.
To start the new year, Bishops Mark, Julie and Sam reflect together on the ways in which they have each responded to God's call in their own lives and how they encourage others to recognise it in theirs too.
For Bishop Sam, who was brought up in a non-Christian family, he sensed a call to ordained ministry as early as four-years-old. He says he had a really clear sense of what he describes as "God's hand on my right shoulder" and "felt held by God and also directed by him."
For Bishop Julie her calling to the preisthood came later in life after taking up other professional roles, something she says she had little choice over due to the fact that, as a woman, she could not pursue ordained ministry at that time.
In the conversation, recorded for the diocesan Chester Box Podcast, the three bishops explore the different ways God continues to call them and how they have at times "got it completely wrong". Bishop Sam, who, as well as being the Bishop of Stockport, advises the Church of England on matters relating to vocation, says it's at these times that "you can learn the most about yourself, about God as well, and about other people."
As well as reflecting on God's call in their own lives, they also recall the people they have recognised God calling to particular ministries and how they have helped and encouraged them to heed his invitation.
Bishop Mark says that he often notices in himself and in others that there is a "lining up" of God's call towards something, other people's encouragment to act, and a sense in oneself that "maybe this is me". He says when this happens "there's something you should explore."
Bishop Mark summed up the conversation by saying: "If God calls, the Bible's very clear: he will also equip you. So take the risk, explore. You're not gonna end up being made to look a complete wally, but I think all three of us would say that the greatest adventure of our life is following Christ to all the places that he calls us. So God bless you as you explore vocation."
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. 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.
Foundations for Ministry
This diocesan course is for those who are looking to further their knowledge and understanding in support of a calling outside of the Church as well as individuals considering an ordained or licensed ministry in the Church. The course begins in September. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Recorded in 2021, meet two people who followed God's call: Jo Rodman and the Revd Jonny Frost.