It was a long journey but I made it…at last!
Rupert shares the days leading up to his ordination on 4th July this year
I had been warned that the months leading up to my ordination would be hectic. They were not wrong!
Firstly there were the numerous forms to be completed, the Criminal Record Check and the certificates to be sent off to prove my qualifications, baptism and confirmation. Then there were the robes to be ordered and the measurements to be sent off to the makers in Newcastle plus an article to write about myself for the Wey. Then there were meetings! – an appraisal with my course Principal and interviews with the Bishop and the Archdeacon – just to check I was safe to ordain! All this was happening at the same time as writing two essays for my ministry course, my full time job which is highly pressurised at this time of year as it deals with the summer’s GCSE and A Level marking, and my broken collar bone, for which I had an operation just five days before my ordination!
One of the high points leading up to my ordination was an invitation to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s garden party on 18 June. This was for all those being ordained that year. It was an ideal opportunity to look around Lambeth Palace and visit the library which had a number of ancient bibles and other historical books. The grounds were amazing and this was matched by a delicious tea served in a large marquee in the gardens. We met Rowan and his wife, both of who were very friendly and unassuming
Ordination week started with the operation to repair my broken collar bone, and on the Thursday my wife Jane and I with the other ordinands and their partners, were invited for lunch at the Bishop of Guildford’s House (Willow Grange). After lunch, we ordinands said good-bye to our partners and went off to Guildford cathedral for a rehearsal of the ordination service. We all changed into our cassocks and were all rather anxious we would trip over them as they were very long. My sore shoulder and sling made getting changed quite difficult but I was surrounded by willing helpers who were a tremendous support throughout the whole process which was particularly exhausting so soon after my operation. We were then led around the Cathedral and shown where we needed to stand and what we needed to do. It was all very complicated; even one of the Cathedral stewards got confused! We just hoped we would remember everything and not make total fools of ourselves
We then went to St Columbas, a retreat house in Woking, where we would stay until the Sunday morning.. Each day we had an address from a speaker and then had most of the day to ourselves – to read, pray and sleep! It was a very special time spiritually but also provided an opportunity to rest from all the pressures of the last few months. During this time we slowly began to realise the enormity of our call and that we would be leaving the relative safety of being a layperson to become a member of those strange looking people with dog collars – the clergy. This became more of a reality when on the morning of our ordination, we came down to breakfast wearing our clerical shirts and dog collars. This felt very strange but exciting at the same time. We had to be at the Cathedral an hour before the service to get robed and take our oaths of allegiance to the Crown and the Bishop! The service was a very special and moving experience and wonderful to have family and friends supporting. My call for the ordained ministry which had probably began when I was teaching in the mid-1970s, had at last come to fruition…35 years later
I’m now strictly speaking a Curate, and will work alongside Frank and Patrick, but as I am a locally ordained minister I am only licensed to serve at Emmanuel Church so I cannot preach or take services at other churches without permission from the Bishop. At present I am a deacon but next July I will be made a priest in another service at Guildford Cathedral. This will mean that I will be authorised to take communion services and conduct marriages
I would like to say a very big thank you for everyone’s prayers, good wishes and support over these last few years