Servants, Shepherds, Messengers,

Watchmen and Stewards


In June we look forward to Malcolm Wearing being ordained a priest or ‘priested’ as it is commonly known.  The service will be at Manchester Cathedral on Saturday 20th June and, as there is limited space in the cathedral, entry to the service is by ticket only.  Fortunately we will be having a special service of celebration of our own the day after – a Team Service on Sunday 21st June at 10 am at St John’s Church to which everybody can come!  As is tradition, Malcolm has invited a guest preacher to come that day.  We will therefore be very pleased to welcome the Revd Mark Brackley, Bolton Hospice Chaplain, to preach.


Some may be wondering what Malcolm’s priesting will actually mean for Malcolm and for our Team.  In practical terms it means that Malcolm can take parts of a service that as a deacon he currently isn’t allowed to take.  For example as a priest he will be able to ‘absolve sins’ (pronounce God’s forgiveness) following the confession.  As a priest he will be able to give God’s blessing to others at the end of a service rather than, as he does now, concluding with a general prayer for us all.  As a priest he will be able to lead the Eucharistic Prayer part of the service (preside at Holy Communion).  As a priest he will now be able to officiate at weddings.  There will be a change to his appearance too.  You may have noticed that Malcolm currently wears his stole (the coloured scarf) diagonally across his chest to indicate he is a deacon.  Once priested Malcolm will wear his stole so it hangs straight down, like Phillip, Karsten and I do.


At another deeper level Malcolm’s new role will change him and all of us.  At the ordination service something called the ‘ordinal’ will be read.  The ordinal is a bit like a job description which describes his role in much more detail using lots of different images.  It is quite a long description but here are some of the highlights.


The ordinal says that priests are called to be servants and shepherds.  That they are to proclaim the word of the Lord and to watch for the signs of God's new creation. They are to be messengers, watchmen and stewards.  They are to teach and to admonish, to search for God’s children in the wilderness of this world's temptations, and to guide them through its confusions!


It doesn’t sound easy does it?  I wonder which bits Malcolm will be looking forward to and which bits he feels especially daunted about?  How will he work out how to be a servant, a shepherd, a messenger, a watchman and a steward amongst us for our mutual benefit?  (Just to reassure Malcolm, we are not expecting him to do all this in the first week alongside his family and work commitments!)


Like all of us in ministry, Malcolm will need more than anything to trust that the God who calls him will also equip him and will walk with him every step of the way.  And yes, this is as true for you and me, as it is for Malcolm.  For all of us are called to some form of ministry.  Whatever God calls us to do and whatever God calls us to be, wherever he sends us God assures us of his presence and his peace. 


Yours in Christ,



Please remember to pray for Malcolm and all who will be ordained priest and deacon this month.  Thank you.