Go back to normal view
Pastoral Assistants are trained and authorised by the local diocese. They undertake all kinds of caring roles including visiting the sick, baptism visiting, home communions, leading small groups and so on.
I used to be a member of All Saints Church New Eltham in the Diocese of Southwark. I worshipped there after moving to the area after my marriage when I was 21. My three daughters all came to church with me every Sunday. When my youngest was about 18 months old, I discovered that I had a vocation to work for the church but I had no idea how I could fulfil it. One Sunday a Sister from the Society of the Reparation was visiting our Parish, I managed to have a long conversation with her about my feelings of having a vocation and her helpful words were instrumental in my trying to find out how I could move forward.
I was accepted for training as a Southwark Pastoral Auxiliary. The training was in it’s infancy and quite different from today’s. We each had a Personal Tutor whom we visited each week and took study material home. We also each had a Spiritual Director and I was fortunate to have the Head Deaconess Rev Cecelia Goodenough as mine. I used to visit her at her home from time to time (and have lunch!)
I enjoyed my work once qualified and used to do most of the Baptism Visiting, supervise the Sunday School, assist with Confirmation preparation and run Junior and Senior Youth Clubs after Evensong each Sunday. I had a particular responsibility to visit young mothers who had lost young babies.
I worked for a time at St Giles Camberwell. The staff team were Chaplains to St Giles Hospital where the Vicar, Canon Douglas Rhymes and I were responsible for the Psychiatric Wards.
Changes took place in my family life and I moved away from New Eltham.
I then trained and qualified as a Psychiatric Nurse and worked in the Health Service before moving to Social Services in Bexley providing Residential Rehabilitation for people leaving hospital with mental health problems. I later became a Disability Manager managing a Computer Training Project for people with Physical Disabilities partly funded by the European Social Fund.
I had been member of Christ Church for 10 years or more, and was delighted when having a conversation with Sue one Sunday, she suggested that I return to Pastoral work as a Pastoral Assistant at Christ Church. All the necessary preparations took place and I was thrilled to be Authorised at St Albans Dartford in November 2008.
With the exception of approximately 18 months living in Bexleyheath following marriage to Linda in 1973, I have lived my entire life in Gravesend. Born in 1949 I spent the first sixteen years living in Whitehill Lane with mum and dad, an older sister and younger brother. In 1966 the family moved to Parrock Road. Linda and I currently live in Ferndale Road.
We had attended St George’s Church in Gravesend for very nearly thirty years during which time we were blessed with three children, Daniel, Ian and Hannah when in 2006 we found ourselves called to Christ Church, something of a home coming for me as I had previously sung in the choir as a boy in the late fifties and early sixties, together with my brother Alan. Having arrived at Christ Church we very soon found ourselves involved in various aspects of church life
In March 2008 I took early retirement from the Metropolitan Police Service, where I had spent twenty two years as a member of the civilian staff, and later that year was asked if I might consider training to become a Pastoral Assistant. In 2009 I was accepted for training as a PA to which ministry I was authorised, in October 2011 , following two years of training and study and having achieved The Certificate of Higher Education in Ministerial Theology
In my ministry as a PA I support the older members of the congregation both in church and in their own homes.
I have been coming to Christ Church for 34 years. I was happily married there in June 1978. In my youth I spent time as part of the choirs at Holy Trinity Church, St James’s Church and then St Georges Church, which are all located within Gravesend. I also went to the Methodist Church, Gravesend on Church Parade Sundays.
I wanted to marry in Christ Church as my parents had married there in August 1944.
Nowadays, I am very happily married to Stephen, who is the church treasurer. We have two adult sons who have both flown the nest and live in London and Gravesend respectively. Just as importantly we have a lovely west highland terrier called Rosie - she is the apple of my eye.
After leaving school I went to work into foreign banking, where I hit the jackpot when I met Stephen.
After the children started school I studied Nursery Nursing at college and went on to work in a school nursery opposite Christ Church for 15 years. I now work at Ifield School, Gravesend, a special needs cluster school.
Part of my ministry as a Pastoral Assistant will be supporting the bereaved in our community.