Sunday, August 15, 2010

Reflections on the First 6 weeks of Priestly Ministry

After spending a year serving as a Deacon in the Dorchester Team Ministry at the end of June came the time for me to be ordained as a priest. For the four days prior to the ordination itself I went on a retreat, along with 34 others to be ordained priests in the diocese, to Cuddesdon. This time allowed for some reflection and prayer before the momentous day itself and was a welcome time to step back from the business of ministry, enabling me to reflect on the year past and the years to come.

The ordination itself took place on a splendidly sunny Sunday on the 27th June 2010. I was fortunate that the ordination to the priesthood took place in Dorchester Abbey where I have a spent a lot of time over the previous year alongside five other candidates for the priesthood (including my wife Hannah). The service itself was lovely and ably conducted by Bishop Colin Fletcher, who is my area Bishop (Bishop of Dorchester). The archdeacon of Oxford Julian Hubbard preached a good sermon, reflecting on the similarities and differences between a wedding service and an ordination which gave us food for thought.

After the service a different sort of food was provided in a hog roast in the cloister garden which many people from the team attended on a sweltering afternoon. Most managed to find some shade from the trees to sit down and eat together. As usual the hospitality and cooking skills of the team were on display, with a good array of salads and desserts provided alongside the roasted pork.

From that day on there have been a series of firsts for me. My first celebration of communion came the following Sunday when I took the eight o’clock BCP service at the Abbey. This quiet and prayerful service seemed to me to be a low pressure way of celebrating for the first time and it was a great privilege to do so. After this service we had breakfast together with pastries hastily fetched from the local Co-Op and freshly made coffee, which all went down well.

The following Saturday saw the first wedding service I conducted, which was a nerve racking experience. So may things that I had to remember! Fortunately I was assisted by a good team of churchwardens who looked after lots of the practical issues. All I had to do was get the words right and avoid the ‘Holy Goats and Holy Spigits’ from Four Weddings and a Funeral. All passed off very well and a good time was had by all.

Looking back over my first six weeks there, in some ways, has been very little change in going about my daily business of ministry, but in some ways things have changed enormously especially on Sunday mornings. No longer am I assisting with communion services I am now taking them myself and sometimes even doing them solo. I look forward to many more years of offering my priestly ministry to the Church and hope to continue to grow in the knowledge and love of God and help others to do the same.

(Blogged by David Cleugh, newly ordained priest of the Dorchester Team Ministry)

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