Sent out in twos…….
June 2, 2016Three Cliffs Parish on Gower has been honoured and humbled this year to assist in the preparation for ordination of two people. Nigel King has served us as a Lay Reader for many years and Anthony Porter came to us before Christmas 2015 as a student. Last Sunday at St John Penmaen we said farewell to Anthony and thanks to Nigel for his hard work with us and within the Gower Ministry Area. I asked them both to write something about their journey so far Rev Canon Peter Brooks, Gower Ministry Area Leader. Nigel King has served the Church in Wales diligently and has had a ministry for 18 years as a Licensed Lay Reader in the Parish of Three Cliffs. Peter has asked about my journey to ordination. But where and when do I start my story? Where and when did the journey begin? Let's talk about last bit of the journey first. I have actually come quite a long way in only a few months - travelling to realise just how important this ordination thing is going to be to me; and coming to wonder whether I will be quite up to the job at the end of it. Oh, it hasn’t been a traumatic or difficult time. Many people have been supportive - all sorts of people - the most important of these being the people in the Parish of Three Cliffs because without their support no one else would have taken me seriously at all. Nevertheless this journey is taking me into unfamiliar lands. For my training, I have been following the new course: ‘Theology for Life’. It comes from the new Church in Wales’ training institute of St Padarn's so lots of things about it are new. Those on the course meet locally on a regular basis and every now and then we all go to Cardiff for lectures and talks. It is a good course but it is the other people involved that are the really important part of it. The current module is especially useful because it is on ‘Pastoral Theology’. What do you say when someone is in distress and needs support? Ordained people are supposed to know, aren't they? They are supposed to understand the affairs of the spirit. They are supposed to be wise. But you don't suddenly become wise because of an ordination afternoon in the Cathedral. Being wise means having experience that you have learnt from and it means something else too. It means having decided that the world has meaning and purpose. You can't learn all that from any book – no matter how cleverly written. But you can learn it from other human beings who care about you; and want to support you; and are willing to share their experience with you. Theology for Life is very worthwhile. All of which brings me, I suppose, to the longer journey: a life-time’s journey. It has four legs - this journey of mine. I spent a lot of time being rather selfish (first leg). I spent a span looking after my family (second leg). I have been heavily involved with the Church now for nearly a quarter of a century (third leg). On the third leg I have been doing things that make me feel important - like telling Governing Body what I think and being one of the people that elects bishops. But now I have reached the last leg – which is what I am really meant for. It took me a long journey to get here… but I made it in the end. What I am really meant for, so it seems to me, is to bear witness to what I believe. It isn’t about ‘self’. It isn’t about doing things to make me feel important. It is about sharing what I believe with others. And the way you do that isn’t by telling people things. It is by living your life as Jesus suggested. Will I be quite up to the job, do you think? Nigel King Anthony Porter works in the Health Service and will be ordained as an NSM in the Parish of Morriston this June. The first sense I recall that God was calling me to service was experienced in my teens. It was a strong sense that God had a purpose for my life, however I fought hard to resist this as I felt far too young and immature. I believed that surely this was my mind talking rather than God as why would he be calling me to serve others when I was normal teenager with little life experience. Although resisting, I found myself being led towards a vocation in nursing, not thinking that God was leading this at the time. Of course, reflecting back, God was offering me a hand on a journey with him: equipping me with life skills, skills of caring, skills of communication, and most importantly skills of loving others. I have truly loved being a nurse serving people and teams in delivering nursing care within our communities. I have had great experiences and opportunities within my nursing career including managing teams and developing and enhancing clinical practice. Throughout the last 6 years, I have been experiencing a much stronger sense that God is sending me on a journey serving his church in a different way. Reflecting, the Spirit has been working hard to mature me to be able to follow Gods call for my life, equipping me for what is Gods purpose. Although absolutely daunting at times, God is in control of the pathway ahead and through meditation, prayer and listening to His Word, I feel stronger emotionally and spiritually to continue spreading the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ wherever he sends me. I have been following a part-time training route towards ordination: a mixture of academic study, ministry skills modules and placement experience. This has been a challenge at times while working full-time and having a family but has taught me the importance of identifying important family time as well as personal time in prayer with God. I have encountered some amazing people thought this journey who have enabled me to explore so many different ways of expressing faith and worship, which at times have felt somewhat uncomfortable to me, however seeing the expression of praise and worship has really shown me how the Spirit can be active in so many different ways to enhance and feed the soul spiritually. My only hope for the future is that I remain true to the person I am, not changing the work God has been developing in me. I hope that I always shine the love and light of Jesus to everyone I encounter while humility and grace. Anthony Porter