Rachel Beere is one of the six women and men who will be ordained deacon in a special service at Gloucester Cathedral on Sunday 27 June at 10.15am. This is her first step into ordained ministry in the Church of England, although she’s been active in her ministry for many years.
Rachel has had a lifetime of feeling close to God and a strong and undeniable sense of calling to be ordained into the Anglican Church. She tells us her story.
“I gave my life to Jesus when I was six years old. I was part of a Welsh baptist church and my mum and her whole family were faithful Christians. Mum and my maternal grandmother have been a huge influence in my life.
“Since I was very small I felt called to minister in the church. When I was probably 10 years old, my friends would come over and I would lead a little Bible study for them all. When I was 12, I had a full immersion baptism and around the same time, at a revival meeting on the West coast of Wales, I was prayed for and I felt the Holy Spirit come down on me in a powerful way.”
Rachel chose to study Theology and Religion at University, filled with a desire to learn more about faith. But her parents’ divorce, when she was 20 years old was a big challenge to her relationship with God.
“My parents divorced and my faith became very rocky. I felt uprooted. I’m the eldest of four siblings, with a strong, independent streak and I looked after my younger siblings emotionally. At that age, you’re not really emotionally mature enough to process a divorce and I stopped going to church for about a year. During that time, my life was happy and fulfilled, I had lots of good mates, but something was drawing me back to God. First thing in the morning or last thing at night, I was aware that there was something deep inside me that wasn’t satisfied in a life without God.
“I tried going to church a couple of times, but would stop at the door and walk home. I tried an alternative service with poetry and art, but nothing moved in me. I went home to my student house and I remember praying, “God, I felt nothing at that service, but I have a history of knowing you. If you’re real, you have to prove yourself – you’ve got two weeks.”
Rachel suddenly met a new group of friends – “I met a bunch of lovely, normal people. There was something in them that was really bright in terms of their faith. One of them prayed for me and I powerfully felt the presence of Jesus. From that moment on, I have walked as faithfully as I can.
“The call has been bubbling away in me for many years. About eight years ago, I wasn’t an Anglican – I’d been involved with the Woodlands Christian Centre for many years, but my daughter Lilah was a chorister at Bristol Cathedral. When I was at school, we would always go to Llandaff Cathedral, but as a non-Anglican, I wasn’t allowed to take communion. I didn’t want Lilah to have that experience, so we both went to confirmation classes.
“At the classes, the Bishop’s Chaplain told me I had been pretty much doing a curacy at my church. I was also going to London once a week to refresh my degree knowledge as I was feeling a call to more senior ministry in my church. I was sitting as an unaccredited student for a few years to refresh my theology memory at St Mellitus, London.
“Sitting on the bus on the way back home, I wrote in my journal
“Are you calling me to the Anglican Church? Are you calling me to ordained ministry?”
“I then picked up my phone and had an email from the Bishop’s Chaplain, asking me to explore ordination. I was very integrated in my church, so it had to be a really clear call before I would consider leaving it for something new. As I was praying, I had a picture of a root being pulled up, shaken off and replanted. It felt really peaceful.”
Rachel is married to Adrian, who is an Assistant Curate at St Mary’s Charlton Kings in Cheltenham. She has six children: Lilah, 18; Sofia, 16; Joaben, 14; Amelia, 13; and twins Jude and Theo, 11. They have a dog, Marmaduke, who has been keeping them active over lockdown.
She said, “The family’s at a point now where I feel its managable for me to step into public ministry. The children will all be at secondary school from September, and the larger the family, the more independent the children! They are very supportive, but then it’s quite normal for them as I’ve always been involved in the church.”
Rachel’s top tip if you think you might have a call to ordained ministry is to find a spiritual director. “Journey a bit with a spiritual director, pray and talk it through with the people who know you best. If you’re not called, its a stressful job! One of my favourite quotes is by Thomas A Kempis; “They travel lightly whom God’s grace carries.” It’s a quote I hope to live by.”