Stories of Ministry from the Sung Eucharist to Mark the 25th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood in the Diocese of London
At a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood in the Diocese of London, female priests serving in the Diocese reflected on where God might be at work in their ministries.
The Reverend Fung Lau, Assistant Curate, St James the Less, Pimlico
As curate at St James the Less, it’s the first time I’ve served in an English community outside my comfort zone. I am a self-supporting minister and I contribute, in balance, a lot but not too much while running my family home and a full-time job co-ordinating the Chinese Community Centre at St Martin-in-the Fields.
My incumbent Lis has welcomed me as one of the leadership team which provides a good powerful balance to the context in which we work and endeavour to demonstrate an excellent Godly model in an inclusive church. I partake in my ministry in a Chinese way which enriches and expands the church at St James.
Two examples to highlight from my ministry: Lis and I led a funeral service in English and Mandarin for a Chinese lady of our congregation. I was able to share the gospel with her parents because they couldn’t understand English. The support I was able to offer them made this difficult time more peaceful and comfortable. I pastored a lady who came from another part of the Commonwealth and was struggling with homesickness because I also had this experience when I left Hong Kong.
To conclude with Galatians 3. 26, 28:
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The Reverend Dr Margaret Joachim, Assistant Curate, St Peter, Ealing
I was ordained in 1995, and since 1997 I’ve been a curate at St Peter’s, Ealing. I’ve covered seven interregna (two at St Peter’s and five elsewhere), as well as taking more than eighty services for absent clergy in other parishes. We self-supporting ministers are sometimes described as ‘ecclesiastical Polyfilla’ – we fill in the gaps.
But I’ve always had an ordinary full-time job – organising computer geeks in big IT outsourcing companies. Some people knew I was a priest; others didn’t. It didn’t matter – I had to do my day job just as well as anyone else. Gradually I found that people trusted me – and then expected me – to speak up for them. I helped to set up a European Works Council. Then we established some local discussion forums – and then I was sacked! Perhaps I had stuck my head too far above the parapet?
In my next job I was elected onto a team which wrote the rules for a staff consultation forum – and then I was elected co-chair. ‘Why me?’ I asked. ‘Because you’re not in anyone’s pocket’, said one staunch trade-unionist. One year, we persuaded all the managers to forego a pay rise so the money could go to lower-paid staff. Then we got the company to pay the Living Wage, years before it became compulsory. When I retired, one person stapled a screen-wipe to my leaving card. Underneath she wrote: ‘Keep shining’. This is my ministry: God in the Mass on Sunday; God in the mess on Monday.
The Reverend Sandra McCalla, Vicar, St Leonard, Heston
I am the 62nd Vicar of Heston and the first female. In the Kensington Area, we are working to better reflect diversity in leadership and worship which aligns with the communities we serve.
St Leonard’s, Heston contains beautiful stained glass windows depicting the Saints and notable figures from the Bible all in the most wonderful array of colour, yet none of these windows depict any person of colour. To ensure that our church better reflects the community, we have for the past three years marked Black History Month by celebrating the diversity of Christianity around the world. We have introduced icons of African Theological giants such as St Augustine of Hippo and his mother Monica. We celebrate Christianity in India, Pakistan, China, Africa, the Caribbean and the diaspora remembering and honouring their contribution to Christianity. I feel very privileged to have been called to ministry in this context.