I am delighted that all being well, I will be serving my title (doing my curacy) at St. Mary’s Church in Old Basing and Lychpit with Fr. Alec Battey as my training incumbent.
The family and I have spent a few Sundays before Christmas, hopefully incognito, with the good folk of St. Mary’s, including on the occasion of their Christmas Tree festival when most of these photographs were taken.
The church and community will no doubt hold many surprises for me, but there are several delights and challenges which I am already looking forward to:
- the worship is more sacramental than I’ve experienced regularly (excepting my lovely placements over the years first at All Saint’s, Basingstoke and much more recently at Mill End and Heronsgate with West Hyde, Rickmansworth) and my prayer is that this will help me grow into the priest God is calling me to be;
- there is a strong choral tradition – after 20+ years of helping lead worship in various styles in charismatic evangelical churches, cantoring at Sung Eucharist will be a whole new set of skills to grow into, so I hope their choir director is feeling brave having me dropped into their midst;
- there is a strong sense of the detail of the liturgical year that I’ve really appreciated at college and look forward to becoming much more familiar with at St. Mary’s;
- there is a strong creative streak in the community. I’m anticipating that this will be a fertile ground for exploring the relationship that can grow between creative skills and the development and celebration of our faith;
- there is a churchyard conservation group that has stimulated a huge range of wildlife around the church, as well as Old Basing seeming to be laced with open spaces, footpaths and waterways that mean I’ll have ample opportunity to constantly praise God for the wonders of his creation – and that’s before starting to delve deeply into the amazing history of the place;
- there are schools and other opportunities to work with the younger generations, plus a huge range of local clubs and societies to engage with, something that I’m enthusiastic to do where possible, despite living nearly half an hour away;
- and there’s a great Bakehouse, a butcher specialising in local meat, we’ve already tried, alongside other local stores and hostelries we’re yet to try including The Crown already recommended to us by the Churchwardens!
It’s now just a little less than 6 months till my curacy commences with my ordination as Deacon, which I’ve been advised will be at 10am on Sunday 29th June at Winchester Cathedral. Whilst not a little worried about what lies between now and then, namely much reading, many essays and an interview with the Bishop, I am also excited to actually know the fertile ground in which, God willing, the next four years of my ministry will take place.
As I continue to with my studies, and prepare for ordination, I appreciate the support and prayers of my friends and loved ones, those I already know, and those I am yet to meet.