Five women will be ordained as deacons – the first step to becoming a priest in the Church in Wales – in a special service at St Asaph Cathedral on 24 June.
They will be joined by four further women who will be made priests in the same service by the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron.
The new deacons will be:
- Rocky Bateman, who will be based in Holywell as part of the Estuary & Mountain Mission Area,
- Ann Chidgey, who will be based in Kerry near Newtown as part of the Cedewain Mission Area,
- Alexis Smith, who has come from the USA to work around the Welshpool area
- Rebecca Sparey-Taylor, who will be based in Wrexham
- Jeanette Wilkes, who will be based in Welshpool as part of the Pool Mission Area
The four new priests who were all ordained deacons last June are:
- Dorothi Evans, who is based in Corwen in the Valle Crucis Mission Area
- Juliet Fraser, who works in Rhyl as part of the Aber-Morfa Mission Area
- Anne Hooper, based in Halkyn which is part of the Estuary & Mountain Mission Area
- Yvonne Pryce, who works in Gwersyllt near Wrexham which is part of the Alyn Mission Area
The Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron said: “Ordinations are always special times for the Church as we celebrate God’s call to particular persons, but this year, we have an amazing crop of candidates – all women, and from very diverse backgrounds. They’re an impressive and talented group, and I feel very privileged to be the ordaining bishop for this event.”
Amongst those being ordained deacon is Alexis Smith from North Carolina in America. She first came to Wales in 2006 to study a PhD at the University of Wales in Lampeter and had hoped to return to Wales in 2014. The process of transfer took almost two years but she arrived in Wales last September and has been completing further studies at the Church in Wales’ training centre, St Padarns. Alexis said: “Last June, the Bishop of North Carolina, Anne Hodges-Copple, sent a letter to Bishop Gregory releasing me as I followed God’s call to the Church in Wales. I moved here last September and it’s wonderful.”
Also being ordained as deacon is Rebecca Sparey-Taylor who works as a Senior Student Information Analyst at Wrexham’s Glyndwr University. She’s married and has three sons and has represented Wales in field archery, competing in the World Championships in Australia. In 2008, Rebecca and her husband built a car powered only by the sun which they drove across Australia as part of the Panasonic World Solar Challenge. She said: “I have spent the past five years studying part time for a theology degree, fitting it in around family life and a full-time job at Glyndwr University. At first glance my work, making data accessible through online services, maybe not very related to a priestly vocation, but it involved managing projects, liaising with many different people to ensure that their software requirements were met, and sometimes just chatting to people who wanted to know more about my Christian faith.”
Ann Chidgey from Powys will work as a Deacon close to home in Kerry. She said: I am a teacher and taught for many years in London and Powys. In 2004, I retrained as an Educational Psychologist and have served local authorities in both England and Wales in that capacity. Following a retreat in 2013 I resigned from my local authority job to become free to respond to whatever God would ask of me. To sustain myself I began trading as an independent psychologist. After my ordination, I plan to divide my time between this work and ministry for the time being. I believe that both forms of service complement one another and that God blesses them both.”
Jeanette Wilks said: “I felt the call to Ministry around six years ago while I was worshipping in the Hawarden area of North East Wales. I gave up my business working as a Kleeneze distributor, in order to move to Cardiff for two years to study firstly at St Michael’s college and recently at St Padarn’s Institute. I have loved my time of training, but I feel that I am moving into what God has called me to be, and I am so looking forward to my time in Welshpool, both living here and getting to know people, and seeing what God has planned for Welshpool.”
Among those being made a priest is the Revd Juliet Fraser, a former welfare rights officer with Conwy Council who now lives in Rhuddlan and works in Rhyl. She said: “It’s an enormous privilege to be working in Rhyl and supporting people across the town. In my previous role as a welfare rights officer I worked with many people in desperate situations. Then I could only offer practical help but now, as a priest, I can offer them spiritual support too, praying with them to help them find the comfort that a faith in Jesus Christ can bring. I’m pleased to be launching a new bereavement support group in Rhyl which will provide a space for people to talk and to discuss the tough questions that death often brings. Being ordained to the priesthood will enable me to take a more active and leadership role in the churches across Rhyl.”
The Revd Yvonne Pryce from Acrefair near Wrexham is currently working in Gwersyllt. She said: “I’m delighted to be based in Gwersyllt and be working in the local community to ensure the message of God is relevant to everyone. God shouldn’t be locked in a church all week; I’d rather be out and about talking and meeting people. In Gwersyllt, we hold a weekly Eucharist service in a sheltered housing complex, I work in the local schools bringing the Open the Book project to children and we organise a regular litter pick to help keep Gwersyllt tidy.”
Dorothi Evans, a first language Welsh speaker from Bala is now Assistant Curate in the Corwen Group of churches. She said: “I believe that God works in mysterious ways, hence why as a senior individual I was called to ministry. After being licensed as a Reader, and retiring from full time employment I could no longer ignore the calling. Being ordained into the priesthood will, I believe, enable me to serve and be an effective member of the ministry team in the newly formed Valle Crucis Mission Area.”.
The St Johnstide Ordination service takes place at St Asaph Cathedral on Saturday 24 June at 10am. The service is open to everyone and all are invited to attend.