First ordinations by female diocesan bishop

Published: June 14, 2016

Jo PestellAn ultra-marathon runner; mathematician; and ecologist, are just some of the people who will be ordained this weekend in a special service at Gloucester Cathedral.

There are 21 people in this year’s cohort: eleven will be ordained priest and ten will be ordained deacon.

Ordination is the Church of England’s official recognition of a person’s sense of calling to ministry. As a priest or deacon, he or she is granted the authority to conduct activities in the name of God and the Church.

The Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek says: “The services on Saturday and Sunday will mark a significant and special point on the faith journey of twenty-one women and men. Some have been discerning and preparing for this day for a very long time.

“For me it is a wonderful occasion and an opportunity to meet again with the ordinands and share in their joy and the joy of their families. It’s a privilege to be a part of such an occasion.”

Bishop Rachel will lead the ordinations at Gloucester Cathedral.

Before training for ordination, Jo Pestell had a varied and interesting career as a mathematician in the defence industry and working at a charity with profoundly deaf people. She said: “My mother is deaf. This had a big impact on me over my life, particularly in thinking about how people with disabilities are included or excluded from communities.

“Having parents as computer programmers meant I was taught to programme from an early age. This lead on to me studying mathematics and then working in the defence industry.”

It was whilst studying and working as a mathematician in the defence industry that Jo became a Christian.

“I had a colleague who talked to me about Jesus and I argued with him and tried to convince him that Jesus wasn’t real. In the end he convinced me that Jesus was real – well actually God convinced me!

“God is constantly surprising; the way that he leads and guides us and takes us on a route that seems so windy, to change us and the people around us. He’s certainly surprised me a lot of the last 15 years of being a Christian and I’m really looking forward to being ordained and seeing what he has in store for me next.”  

Nina Summerfield is a former ecologist who left her job to follow God’s calling into ministry, she said: “I worked for 13 years as an ecologist, ending that phase of my life as the Ecologist for Exmoor National Park, which was a wonderful job that I left only because of an extremely powerful call from God.”

Ilse Ferwerda lives in Stroud and has recently completed two marathons and an ultra-marathon. She will be ordained deacon on Sunday. She said her call came to her as a “surprise” having not been raised in any faith. She said the turning point was “Evensong in King’s College, Cambridge.” As well as a marathon runner, Ilse is a musician and plays the flute and piano. 

Priest ordinations

On Saturday 25 June, at 3pm, eleven people will be ordained priest in the Church of England.

The new priests have already been working in churches throughout the Diocese as ordained deacons, learning the work of a priest and assisting their parish priest in the running of the church. The ordination service in Gloucester Cathedral is the final step for the new priests after their training.

Deacon ordinations

On Sunday 26 June, at 11am, ten people will take their first step into ordained ministry when they are ordained deacon in the Church of England. From here many will go on to continue their training into priesthood.

List of candidates and parishes

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