Pictured above in the Cathedral Court at Blackburn Cathedral are the 2021 cohort of 24 ordinands serving The Church of England in Lancashire with (front left to right) Rt Rev Philip North, Bishop of Burnley; Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn and Rt Rev. Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster. (Picture: Sara Cuff for Blackburn Diocese).
A primary school teacher; physiotherapist, civil servant, solicitor, marketing manager, Royal Military Police Corporal, vet, librarian, youth worker, farmhand and a Brigadier in the Army.
These are just some of the former/current jobs of the latest cohort of new Priests and Deacons – known as ‘ordinands’ – who will be ordained this weekend at Blackburn Cathedral to serve in The Church of England in Lancashire.
The Cathedral is making livestreams of the services available on their YouTube channel for family and friends and people from parishes who can't attend due to pandemic restrictions.
The group of 24 – the largest for some years - are currently on retreat at the Diocesan Centre for Christian Discipleship and Prayer at Whalley Abbey in the picturesque Ribble Valley, where they are preparing for their ordination services.
There are 12 Deacons and 12 Priests, 15 of whom are aged 40 or under. Nine of the ordinands are women and 15 are men.
Cities, towns and villages in Lancashire where they will serve (Deacons-to-be) or are currently serving (Priests-to-be) are as follows: Haslingden, Musbury, Blackpool, Lancaster, Morecambe, Dolphinholme, Quernmore, Over Wyresdale, Preston, Barrowford, Nelson, Little Marsden, Euxton, Preston, Bamber Bridge, Houghton, Higher Walton, Ellel, Accrington, Leyland, Torrisholme, Cockerham, Winmarleigh and Longridge.
Candidates hail originally from many places across Lancashire; the wider UK and beyond including Darwen, Preston, Blackburn, Blackpool, Morecambe, Lancaster, Rugby, Ilkley, South Lakes, Basingstoke, Cambridge, The Wirrall, Brighton and Manchester as well as Germany, Italy and Finland.
On Saturday, July 3, at Blackburn Cathedral, Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn; Rt Rev. Philip North, Bishop of Burnley and Rt Rev. Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster, will each ordain four of the Priests in three services at 10.30am, 1.30pm and 4.30pm.
The three Bishops will also ordain four of the Deacons each in services taking place across Sunday July 4 at the Cathedral also at 10.30am, 1.30pm and 4.30pm.
The youngest ordinand is a Deacon and the oldest is a Priest. Amy Bland, 24, will serve at Euxton Parish Church, while David Hargreaves, 63, a former Brigadier, serves St Thomas’ Church in Barrowford and St Mary’s Church Newchurch-in-Pendle.
All the ordinands are ready to get to work in their parishes as we collectively press forward with our recently refreshed Vision 2026, Healthy Churches Transforming Communities, which has seen a renewed emphasis being placed on inspiring children and young people.
Their ordinations also come at a time when the entire Diocese is looking immediately ahead to a period of ‘unlocking’ following an immensely challenging year in our County, the country and the wider world.
Reflecting on that past year, Amy said today: “People have really missed human contact, singing together and receiving the Eucharist. However, churches have also been great at supporting people in their communities in new and continuing ways.
“Churches have also been impressive at adapting to changes in regulations and the creativity they have shown has encouraged me. We have also learnt new ways to make services accessible through technology.”
Meanwhile, David reflected on what has brought him to this point saying: “My faith has always been an important part of my life, right from my school days, and it undoubtedly sustained me throughout my military service. But when I retired seven years ago, I never dreamt that God would start calling me towards ordination. He did, and over time the call became absolutely irresistible.”
The Chaplain for the Retreat at Whalley Abbey is the Director of Vocations for Blackburn Diocese, Revd Nick McKee. He said today: “Each year in our Diocese we see a fresh group of men and women of all ages responding to God’s call to become a Priest or Deacon in His church. It is a joy to see them pursuing their vocations and to be part of their journey – particularly during what has been a difficult year for everyone.”
The official ordination video available now on YouTube features six of the 24 ordinands plus our three bishops and the Director of Vocations. Watch the video below ...
Bishop Julian said today: “We pray for all those to be ordained deacon and priest. The last 14 months have been traumatic for our world, our nation and our church. But even at times like these God is always asking, whom shall I send?
“Although we are now presented with huge challenges as we begin to unlock, there are equally huge opportunities as we look to the future of Christian life in our nation.
“So, it is a humbling moment for Bishop Philip, Bishop Jill and I to be able to ordain men and women who have responded to His call and will be able to inspire and encourage our congregations, especially now.”
Bishop Philip added: “This is an exciting time … for all our Priest and Deacons of course, but also for their friends and families who will be supporting them and for their parishes across every part of the wonderful County of Lancashire.
“When they arrive in their parishes, they are being sent by God to be part of His work already underway there and to tell people about our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
“In that sense the work of Priests and Deacons never changes. But we live in an ever-changing world, particularly now as the pandemic continues. Amidst that change there seems to be an awakening of faith in our nation, with new fringes and stronger relationships.
“We pray our ordinands will be able to tap into that new openness to the gospel message and bring a fresh perspective; especially to people who may be considering following Jesus for the first time ever.”
Bishop Jill commented: “Amidst the darkness of the pandemic these past 18 months our amazing parishes have been beacons of hope for our communities, supporting the people they serve in so many creative ways. It is into these parishes that we will send our latest cohort of 24 Priests and Deacons to bring great glory to God as they share the good news of Jesus Christ with those they live amongst and minister to.
“As we emerge and unlock from this crisis we will have a new commitment to the mission of God in His world and our ordinands will be at the vanguard of His work. I look forward to hearing about the many blessings He has been able to bring through them.”
Across the various services over the weekend the Bishops will be joined by The Dean of Blackburn, The Very Rev. Peter Howell-Jones; the Archdeacon of Blackburn, The Venerable Mark Ireland and the Archdeacon of Lancaster, The Venerable David Picken.
Ordinations are taking place across the country and The Church of England will be tweeting throughout this current period on its national Twitter account @churchofengland while our local diocesan Twitter feed (@cofelancs) will also be active, both using #newrevs