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Meet the new deacons for 2018

On Sunday 1 July, nine new deacons are to be ordained at Coventry Cathedral. The new deacons have undertaken a course of study and training, and following their ordination they will serve as curates (assistant ministers) while their training continues. As deacons they will lead worship and carry out pastoral and teaching work.

In the words of the ordination service:

"Deacons are called to work with the Bishop and the priests with whom they serve as heralds of Christ's kingdom. They are to proclaim the gospel in word and deed, as agents of God's purposes of love. They are to serve the community in which they are set, bringing to the Church the needs and hopes of all the people. They are to work with their fellow members in searching out the poor and weak, the sick and lonely and those who are oppressed and powerless, reaching into the forgotten corners of the world, that the love of God may be made visible.

Deacons share in the pastoral ministry of the Church and in leading God's people in worship. They preach the word and bring the needs of the world before the Church in intercession. They accompany those searching for faith and bring them to baptism. They assist in administering the sacraments; they distribute communion and minister to the sick and housebound.

Deacons are to seek nourishment from the Scriptures; they are to study them with God's people, that the whole Church may be equipped to live out the gospel in the world. They are to be faithful in prayer, expectant and watchful for the signs of God's presence, as he reveals his kingdom among us."

Barry Coleman

Barry is to be deacon at St Peter’s, Wellesbourne and St James, Walton. Barry grew up in a small village in Northamptonshire, and his secondary education was in the local grammar school. He later moved to Wellesbourne for work reasons. He became a christian in 2001 following his attendance of an Alpha course in Leamington Spa. After a successful career in the transport and commercial tyre sectors Barry retired in 2015. Shortly after he began his theological education at the Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham. Barry is passionate about mission and evangelism, and has been heavily involved in many initiatives including Alpha, youth work and starting accessible worship services.

Barry has been with his wife Pat for over 30 years, and they both enjoy serving God through the church together. Barry has many hobbies, (too many if you ask Pat!), including photography, ornithology, building computers and playing several musical instruments. He is also a keen supporter of Northampton Saints rugby team, and regularly makes the journey to Franklin's gardens to cheer them on with a hearty rendition of “When the Saints go marching in”.

Sharon Crofts

Sharon is to be deacon at Hartshill and Galley Common in Nuneaton. Sharon grew up in seaside town in Devon. She moved to Coventry when she met and married her husband Allan thirty years ago and they have two adult children. Sharon works part time as a Community Project Worker with the Department of Spiritual Care at the University Hospital in Coventry and in Rugby and will continue this role alongside her curacy. Having worked and worshipped at Coventry Cathedral for almost eleven years, she found a passion for sharing the Gospel through co-ordinating and delivering Alpha and other discipleship groups and courses. Sharon is passionate about environmental and animal welfare issues and enjoys walking with her two dogs and holidaying with Allan and the dogs in Wales. During her training Sharon has found herself drawn to the beauty of liturgy and is looking forward to using Biblical stories and liturgy creatively to enthuse others’ passion for God during her curacy. Having completed a summer placement in Hartshill and Galley Common in 2016, she is looking forward to rekindling relationships made within those local communities.

Jo Joyce

Jo is to be deacon in the parish of St Paul’s Stockingford, Nuneaton. Jo grew up in Essex and was living and working in Kent before moving to train for ordination in Cambridge. She worked in horticulture for 20 years in different ways as a gardener and latterly as a Parks Manager for a local authority. Jo had sensed a call to ordination for a long time but recognised a prompting to consider it seriously about five years ago. Residential training and the community life that comes with it have been both challenging and a huge privilege over the last two years. Realising God may be calling her out of Kent for curacy has been both daunting and exciting as she recognised the chance to do something completely new and step out in faith and trust God for each step. She is really looking forward to joining St Paul’s and is eager to see what God has in store. Jo is single and enjoys walking and gardening.

Anita Morgan

Anita is to be deacon in the parish of St Nicholas, Warwick following part-time training at The Queen’s foundation in Birmingham. Anita grew up in Sussex and then she studied Medicine at Cardiff University. Anita graduated 27 years ago and she has worked as a consultant paediatrician in Coventry for nearly fifteen years. Anita feels privileged to work with amazing children and families with complex health needs who demonstrate daily courage and perseverance.

After completing A-levels, Anita spent a year in Israel with Project Kibbutz. It was during this year that she started to feel a call to ministry, which has grown whilst working as a doctor. Anita has a heart for social action, a church that reaches out in the name of Jesus Christ to be the compassionate hands of local communities. Anita will continue to work as a doctor after ordination.

Whilst in Cardiff she met her husband, Ciaran. They have been married 23 years and they have two children, Matthew (20) and Becky (16). Anita enjoys reading, music and just being outside. The joy of participation in sport has given way to being an enthusiastic spectator. When time and opportunity allows, Anita also enjoys ‘adrenaline junky’ activities such as quad biking.

Esther Peers

Esther is to be the deacon in the parish of Holy Trinity, Leamington Spa. She spent the last three years training at St.Mellitus in London, spending time on placement in different churches in Leamington, Warwick and Coventry. She is passionate about exploring new ways of being church in the community and is excited about being asked to start a new gathering at Holy Trinity as part of her curacy. 

Before starting ordination training Esther worked in business for BT, spent some time in PR, and most recently was an RE Teacher in Coventry. In 2012, she sensed God was calling her in a new direction, so after spending time in prayer discerning what God was calling her to next, she realised it was ordination!

In her spare time, Esther loves to travel, and enjoys anything that involves spending time being outside. She loves cycling, hiking and walking, and spending time on her new stand up paddleboard! You might see Esther paddling down the River Leam! If she has to be inside, she enjoys going to the gym, having coffee with friends or a takeaway while watching a good series on Netflix! Her family enjoys some of these activities more than others!

Anne Richardson

Anne is to be deacon at St James, Styvechale. Anne grew up in Petersfield, Hampshire, before moving to Coventry in 2002 to study Politics at Warwick University where she set up a group building relationships between the Christian Union and Islamic Society exec. Following university she did a Form discipleship year (a transformational discipleship gap year for young adults) and a year with the charity Friends International helping churches engage with international students before working full time for Coventry Council as a Housing Benefits Officer. She went on to lead Form with her husband Phil at St John's Westwood for several years before they moved to St Andrews Eastern Green for his ordination training where Phil is now curate. Following her passion for social justice, Anne then worked for Warwickshire Welfare Rights before sensing God was calling her to ordination too. She has been training at St Mellitus College, which has involved being the Development Officer for the Church Together in Tile Hill where she set up social action projects across the churches before moving to St James in September in preparation for curacy. She is due to have her first child in August and is looking forward to getting to know the community better and seeing God's exciting plans for St James unfold. 

Jonathan Smith

Jonathan is to be deacon at St. Mark’s in Bilton, Rugby. Born to missionary parents in Nigeria in the late 1970s he came back with his family to England to begin his schooling in Derbyshire at the age of 4 (with English as his second language). He has had a relatively varied career, which he believes will equip him well for the variety of life as a curate. Having gained a degree in bio-medical science and a graduate job in that industry, more recently he has been using his more practical and relational gifting’s as a plumbing and heating engineer. Looking back, underlying it all has been a fundamental faith and a quiet but insistent call to ministry which grew louder leading him to this point. He began his ministerial training at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford in 2016 and a real highlight of the time back in education included the chance to take his family back to his birth continent with a long summer placement in Uganda. Jonathan is married to Vicky and they have 3 children, Thomas (10), William (8), and Lydia (3). In his spare time Jonathan loves all sports, does the odd sub 20 parkrun and always looks forward to climbing a mountain (even if he has a child on his back!).

Bill Walton

Bill is to be deacon at Holy Trinity, Coventry. Bill grew up in Coventry, where he trained as a Civil Engineer, but moved away from the area after he married, living in various parts of the UK, as well as spending a few years in France and West Africa. His time spent in Cote d’Ivoire was focused on training lay church leaders and supporting local churches in their ministry. On returning to the UK Bill, who is also a professional Environmentalist, joined Seven Trent Water, where he has worked for the past twenty plus years. In church, Bill has been a member of the ministry team, involved in regular preaching as well as leading home groups, something which he believes is central to the life of a church community.

Bill has spent the past two years studying at Queens Foundation Birmingham, alongside his management role, and will continue working full time during the first part of his curacy. Bill is married to Jayne, who has shared in his adventures over the years, and they live in north Coventry. They have three grown up children, a daughter and two sons, as well as five wonderful grandchildren. Bill enjoys eating out and watching old movies.

Julie Watkins-Wolner

Julie is to be deacon at St Catherine’s Church Stoke Aldermoor, Coventry. For her ordination training Julie has studied part-time at Queens Foundation, Birmingham. Julie has been a licensed Reader, serving many years at Holy Cross Church Wyken, and in the most recent years at St Catherine’s.

Julie gained her Analytical Chemistry degree at Nottingham and spent her initial graduate years as a Medical Laboratory Scientific Officer in her local hospital’s Biochemistry department. After the birth of her two children Rachel and Johnathan, she returned to work part-time as an Analytical Chemist and later-on, as a Senior School technician. It was at this time that God’s call on her life to become a Reader started. Her licensed Reader ministry began over ten years ago.

As a Reader, she believed that she had fulfilled God’s plans for her- but God just smiled.

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans for hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Julie’s call to ordained ministry has been strong and steady, along with infinite patience from God.

Julie enjoys being creative in her approach which feeds into her passion for All-Age ministry and her insights into pastoral care. Currently Julie is a Holistic Therapist who also spends time volunteering at the Arden Centre Oncology unit at University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire. She is married to Paul who is a retired teacher. 

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